Viking Yacht Company Celebrates over five decades: a Hull of a Story
Just Getting Started 1964-1980
The Viking Yacht Company has celebrated over five decades in business building luxury performance sportfishing and cruising yachts. Started by brothers Bob and Bill Healey in 1964 when they bought Peterson-Viking Builders, a small, struggling New Jersey builder of 37-foot, wooden sportfishing boats, Viking Yachts has grown to become a world leader in semi-custom fiberglass yacht production with over 4,000 Vikings delivered.
Viking Yacht Company formed when brothers Bill and Bob Healey purchased Peterson-Viking Builders, a well-regarded NJ manufacturer of wooden sportfishing and cruising boats.
Viking builds it's first all-fiberglass model, the Viking 33' Convertible.
Viking 40' Convertible makes its debut. It is a huge marketing success
(over 600 40/41' models sold over the next 16 years). Every Viking built since
has shared this basic hull design, with evolutionary refinements being made to
accommodate steadily increasing available horsepower and speed.
Patrick J Healey was hired and it was the first time having two generations of Healey's at Viking.
Further Refined 1980-1990
Viking further refined its reputation.
Viking further refined its reputation for engineering excellence and
Viking moved into the large motor yacht market with the purchase of Gulfstar
Yachts, an innovative West Florida-based builder whose designs at the time
were considered among the most modern in the industry.
Return on Investment 1990-2000
Not too long ago, though, the picture at Viking was anything but rosy. When the double-whammy of a nationwide recession hit in 1990, followed by the introduction of a federal luxury tax in 1991, the company went from 1,500 employees in two plants to just 80 employees in one plant. In general, the marine industry went into a tailspin that resulted in massive plant shutdowns and a significant rippling effect of related closures as ancillary businesses, such engine manufacturers, equipment producers and other vendors saw their markets dry up.
The Healeys borrowed working capital and invested their own money to keep the company afloat. Bob Healey also was instrumental in organizing a national, grass-roots campaign to fight the tax based on a loss of jobs issue. In taking the industry lead, Bob organized busloads of out-of-work boat builders that converged on Capitol Hill. Other demonstrations took place on a regular basis around the country to plead for support in repealing the tax. In Rhode Island, a boat was set on fire aboard a barge in Narragansett Bay as a symbol of protest. It took better than two years, but by 1993 the luxury tax was history and Viking was poised to flex its muscles as boat buyers returned to the market. It is interesting to note that Viking's decision to remain open, despite dismal sales attributable to the luxury tax allowed the company to tool up for new models. Thus, when the tax was lifted, Viking roared to the front line leapfrogging over its competition firmly establishing Viking as the dominant builder in its class.
By 1990 Viking was offering a full line of convertibles and motor yachts,
however the economic recession of that period-together with the ill-timed 10%
luxury tax - crippled Vikings production for a time.
The introduction of a federal luxury tax caused the company to go from 1500
employees in two plants to just 80 employees in one plant. In general, the marine
industry went into a tail-spin that resulted in massive plant shutdowns and a
significant rippling effect of related closures as ancillary businesses, such as
engine manufacturers, equipment producers and other vendors saw their markets
The Healeys borrowed working capital and invested their own money to keep
the company afloat. Bob Healey also was instrumental in organizing a national,
grassroots campaign to fight the tax based on a loss of jobs issue. In taking the industry lead, Bob organized busloads of out-of-work boat builders that converged on Capitol Hill. Other demonstrations took place on a regular basis around the country to plead for support in repealing the tax. In Rhode Island, a
boat was set on fire aboard a barge in Narragansett Bay as a symbol of protest.
It took better than two years, but by 1993 the luxury tax was history and Viking was poised to flex its muscles as boat buyers returned to the market. It is interesting to note that Viking's decision to remain open, despite dismal sales
attributable to the luxury tax allowed the company to tool up new models. Thus,
when the tax was lifted, Viking roared to the front line leapfrogging over its competition, firmly establishing Viking as the builder in its class.
Viking 60' Cockpit Sportsyacht was awarded "Boat of the Year" by Boating
Bill and Bob, who have been very successful in building tournament sportfishing
boats, feel a strong sense of obligation to the sea. They founded the Recreational
Fishing Alliance (RFA), a non-profit organization formed in 1996 to promote sustainable fisheries and a healthy marine environment. Viking has contributed over $1 million to the RFA and the membership is now at the 75,000 mark.
Viking Sport Cruisers is formed, a company that has been highly successful
distributing British-built, high end cruising yachts from 30 to 88 meters, built to
Viking's specifications, through its dealer network in North American.
Viking premiered the all-new 55' Convertible at the Fort Lauderdale
International Boat Show. Designed and built to be the ultimate mid range
luxury performance sportfisherman, the 55 has met with critical acclaim in
the boating press and has sold to date 115 of this model.
With 20 yachts sold before the first hull was delivered, the Viking 65 Convertible
is a legend in the making, delivering phenomenal speed, range and comfort.
Already a proven winner, in the prestigious 1999 Mid-Atlantic $500,000
tournament, a leading boating magazine reported that, with optional 1,800 hp
DDC-MTU 16V2000's, the 65 made 34.5 knots at 2000 rpm and hit 39.3 knots at
Robert T. Healey and William J. Healey, owners and founders of Viking Yacht
Company, and Bill's son Patrick, were awarded the Ernst & Young 1998 New
Jersey Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year Award. They went on to be
runner ups in the national competition.
Introduction of the 61' convertible at the fall boat shows. The Viking 61 demo
boats a 781 lb blue marlin in the White Marlin Open. Worth over $303,000 in
tournament winnings, Viking donated half the prize to the Recreational Fishing
Alliance. So far, 77 of this model sold.
Expanding the Future 2000-2010
In dealing with an owner base that is constantly seeking new and larger models, Viking produced the Custom 105, built in Viareggio, Italy, to Viking's specifications by Versilcraft. The new yacht made its premiere at the 42nd Annual Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show in October 2001 and was awarded the National Marine Manufacturers Association Innovation Award at the Miami International Boat Show in February 2002.
In February 2002, Viking opened a new service facility in Riviera Beach, Florida, near Palm Beach, to accommodate Viking owners who bring their boats south for the winter. The new facility features slips for in-water work, as well as land storage to handle larger projects and outfitting. A 125-foot by 150-foot shed with 50 feet of clearance will accommodate boats with tuna towers for indoor work.
In December 2002, the Bass River Marina, adjacent to the Viking Yacht plant was bought back by the Healeys and reflagged the Viking Yachting Center. It was at this marina where the Healey brothers started their maritime careers. The brothers sold the property in 1964 when they devoted all of their energies to boat manufacturing.
In early 2003, Viking formed two new companies, Atlantic Marine Electronics (AME) and Palm Beach Towers (PBT). Atlantic Marine Electronics is based at the Viking Yachting Center (with a satellite office in Riviera Beach) and is responsible for the sophisticated electronic navigation packages, which are installed aboard Viking Yachts and Viking Sport Cruisers. Based at the Riviera Beach, Florida, facility (with additional service bays at the Yachting Center), Palm Beach Towers designs and builds tuna towers and fabricates other aluminum and fiberglass components for Vikings and other yacht brands.
At a very special breakfast presentation on October 29, 2003 during the International Boatbuilders’ Exhibition & Conference in Miami Beach, Florida, Viking Yachts’ Bill and Bob Healey were recognized by their peers and inducted into the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) Hall of Fame for their selfless contributions to the recreational marine industry.
Plant expansion, Viking Yacht has invested more than $10 million to upgrade and
improve their manufacturing facility. Whether it is a new, ultra violet curing machine that helps achieve that
gleaming finish on our interior joinery, or advance computer - controlled point-
to-point machining centers that cut wood parts with surgical precision, Viking
is committed to building the best boats with state-of-the-art equipment in a safe
and attractive working environment.
At the Miami International Boat Show, Bill and Bob Healey received the prestigious Chapman Award on behalf of Motor Boating magazine and the National Marine Manufacturers Association in recognition of their contributions to the boating community for the benefit of the industry and public. The Viking 52 Convertible is launched at the Annual Dealer Meeting in Atlantic City in June. Viking adds the Custom 105, built in Viareggio, Italy, to Viking's specifications by Versilcraft. The new yacht made its premiere at the 42nd Annual Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show in October 2001.
Viking opened a new service facility in Riviera Beach, Florida, near Palm Beach,
to accommodate Viking owners who bring their boats south for the winter. The
new facility features slips for in-water work, as well as land storage to handle
larger projects and outfitting. The Viking 48' Convertible was introduced at the
Miami International Boat Show. The Custom 105 was
awarded the NMMA's 2002 Innovation award by Boating Writers International
at the Miami International Boat Show. The Viking 45 Convertible premieres as a 2003 model at Viking's dealer meeting in Atlantic City.
Viking creates American Marine Electronics and Palm Beach Towers. Also introduced are the 45' Open and the 56' Convertible. Bill and Bob Healey are
inducted into the National Marine Manufacturers Association Hall of Fame. Viking also purchases Bass River Marina and re-flags it the Viking Yachting Center.
To assist in manufacturing plugs for new molds and provide a constant stream of upcoming new model, Viking purchases a $1 million computer operated and controlled five-axis profiler milling machine. Capable of cutting parts 60' by 20' by 10' this machine is the largest of its type in the marine industry. Viking introduces the 74 Convertible, the largest in the company's 40 year history. The Viking Yacht Company is honored as a semi-finalist in the New Jersey Family Business of the Year Award, sponsored by the Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies, Fairleigh Dickinson University, PNC Bank and New Jersey Monthly magazine. The Press of Atlantic City gives Viking the Bailey Award "In recognition of selfless and generous efforts to improve the quality of life in our region."
At the 2005 Miami International Boat Show, Viking receives the inaugural President's Cup from the World Billfish Series in recognition of the numerous tournaments held worldwide where Viking owners take top standings. The Tuckerton Seaport honors Bill Healey and Viking Yachts for the continued support of the Seaport's Antique & Classic Boat Show and the Parent & Child Boatbuilding Workshop. The 68 Convertible is introduced along with the Enclosed Bridge 74 Convertible at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show. Viking announces the upcoming launches of the 52 Open and 64 Convertible. Viking Custom enters a new venture with Italian builder Sanlorenzo.
The 68 Enclosed Bridge Convertible premieres at the VIP Miami Boat Show Preview in at the Service Center in Riviera Beach, Florida. Two weeks later at the Miami International Boat Show, Viking receives the World Billfish Series President's Cup for the second year in a row amidst a gathering crowd awed by the new 64 Convertible, a candidate for the National Marine Manufacturer Association's Innovation Award. The Riviera Beach Maritime School is founded. Expansion plans at the New Gretna facility are announced and include a waste treatment plant and a wind turbine. Mid year, the 52 Open is launched. In Ft. Lauderdale, the 64 Enclosed Bridge, 56 Enclosed Bridge and 52 Sport Yacht premiere. The year ends with Viking being honored as the 2006 Family Business of the Year by Fairleigh Dickinson University's Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies.
The Viking International Yacht Center opens in Riviera Beach, Florida, a few docks north of the Viking Service Service Center. Growth spurts enjoyed by Palm Beach Towers and Atlantic Marine Electronics creates the need for them to move to the new facility to better serve their clients. In Miami, Viking captures the World Billfish Series President's Cup a third time. The 54 Convertible is showcased at the Miami Boat Show. A wind turbine test tower is installed in New Gretna to collect and measure data.
Viking shifts its presence to Collins Avenue and makes its initial appearance at the 2008 Miami Yacht and Brokerage Show. A magnificent display includes the first Viking 60 Enclosed Bridge Convertible, along with a brand new series of West Coast sportfishing models called Bad Company editions. Designed with innovative flying bridge arrangements, tuna towers, outriggers and fore and aft bait stations, Viking raised the bar by producing a turnkey ready tournament machine built strictly to West Coast standards for Southern California, Baja and Mexican waters. The Viking 50 Convertible also appears. At the plant, other milestones in manufacturing are reached with advancements in our resin infusion process in the creation of tankage, propeller boxes, engineroom vents and dozens of other components. In March, the hull mold of the 82 Convertible was lifted from its plug in preparation for the building of our new flagship. The Viking 50 Convertible debuts at the 2008 Lauderdale Boat Show. Meanwhile, throughout the summer and into the fall the 82 Convertible takes shape. Upon meeting engineering's construction and sea trial parameters in early fall, the new boat heads to Florida after Thanksgiving in preparation of the 2009 Viking VIP Preview.
At the 13th Annual VIP, Viking introduces the 82 Convertible, the 57 Convertible and the 46 Convertible. Less than two weeks later, the new 46 Open joins the fleet at the 2009 Miami Yacht and Brokerage Show. The Viking 76 Convertible is announced and premieres at the 2009 Lauderdale Boat Show along with a Viking 82 Enclosed Bridge Convertible. Plans to introduce a Viking 70 Convertible are announced.
Building a Better Boat Everyday 2010-Present
At a time when the brothers could take a well-earned rest, Bob and Bill are busier than ever. When not promoting the Recreational Fishing Alliance or industry issues in Washington, D.C., Bob can often be found at Viking. Bill is at the plant daily overseeing new expansion plans and to ensure Viking is “building a better boat everyday.” And of course, Bill still makes it a point to say goodnight to his employees each evening, a habit he started way back on April 1, 1964.
The Viking 76 Enclosed Bridge is unveiled at the 14th Annual VIP Preview, along with drawings for the new Viking 42 Convertible with its innovative pod drive system. At the Miami Yacht and Brokerage Show, Viking presents the world premiere of the new MTU V16 Series 2000 M94 engines rated at 2,600 mhp in a Viking 82 Convertible. At the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show in October, the new Viking 70 Convertible premieres along with the new Viking 42 Convertible.
At the 15th Annual VIP Preview the 70 Enclosed Bridge Convertible is introduced at our private event for Viking owners. But it is the new 42 Open that attracts an enthusiastic crowd, which keeps the new model busy for two days of constant sea trials and customer inspections. A few weeks later in Miami at the Yacht and Brokerage Show, both new models are major attractions in our 14 boat display on Collins Avenue. During the summer months in keeping with Viking's commitment to upgrade and improve its 810,000 square foot facility, a major renovation takes place in the form of solar power utilizing the roof of Building 5A. Covering approximately 17,000 square-feet and weighing some 50,000 lbs, 798 solar panels each one capable of generating 250 KWH per year are installed on the building's roof. This is enough power to supply the needs of Building 5 and 5A for a year!
Viking consumes 4.5 million KWH per year. By installing these solar panels, Viking is able to reduce its CO2 emissions by 3,000 tons. It would take 14,000 trees to achieve the same reduction. In October at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show, Viking introduces another new model, the Viking 66 Convertible.
In another effort in our continuing crusade to reduce our electrical dependency on fossil fuels, Viking begins building a tri-generation plant to produce our own electricity utilizing six turbines. By reducing our electrical costs, we estimate that this major project, which will be operational by early fall will be paid off in three to four years. At our 16th Annual VIP Preview, a record number off more than 800 guests attend to see the launch of the new 66 Enclosed Bridge Convertible. Over the two day event, 79 sea trials are conducted out of our Viking Yacht Service Center in Riviera Beach, Florida. The news about the 55 Convertible set to launch in May is met with praise, excitement and great anticipation. Following the VIP, Viking is the talk of the Miami Yacht and Brokerage Show with its 16 boat display, and long lines waiting to board the 66 EB. In time for summer, the new 55 Convertible is launched and the development of a 72 Motor Yacht and a 92 Convertible is announced at the June dealer meeting. At the October Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, the Viking 55 earns rave reviews from a number of marine journalists for its style and performance and in so doing is a hint about what is to follow. In December, Viking turns the switch and its tri-generation plant comes online. The new power source is expected to reduce the factory's overall heating, cooling and electrical utility expenses by 25 percent, which will cut the present electricity bills by 40 percent or more. The six micro-turbines, each developing 65 kilowatts for a total of 390 kilowatts can generate up to 50 percent of our current usage, which helps to insulate us from the volatile electricity market, a huge plus in managing our overhead. Fueled with natural gas, the micro-turbines also help us reduce greenhouse emissions.
The year starts with a bang as the new Viking 62 Convertible premieres at the VIP Boat Show Preview in February at the Viking Yacht Service Center in Riviera Beach, Florida. One hundred sea trials take place over the two-day show and 812 people take in the event. Twelve days later, the Viking 62 Enclosed Bridge makes its inaugural appearance at the Miami Yacht and Brokerage Show. During the show updates on the new Viking 92 Convertible and the Viking 75 Motor Yacht awes the dealer network with our progress and more than 5,000 people visit the 18 boat display. Sales begin piling up across our current product line from 42 to 82 feet and in a two-and-a-half month period 32 new Vikings are ordered and sold.
Viking celebrates its 50th anniversary on April 1 during a momentous year in which its biggest-ever convertible yacht, the 92 C, is introduced. The boat receives high acclaim as the largest resin-infused sportfishing convertible yacht in the world.
In celebration of 50 years of building a better boat every day, Viking holds its first-ever Key West Challenge fishing tournament, with 40 yachts and almost 400 people participating.
The year also marks Viking's official return to its former glory days as a motor yacht with the debut of the 75 MY. The new 52 Convertible gets off to a great start and is followed by the 52 Sport Coupe and 52 Sport Tower. A major extension of Building 2N joins the Mill and Viglass under one roof for a climate-controlled building environment. At the 2014 Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, the 92 Enclosed Bridge is recognized by the Active Interest Media magazine group with a best-in-class Editor's Award.
Viking continues to show its unrelenting commitment to bring new models to the market. The introduction of the Viking 80 Convertible, which makes its world premiere at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, caps off another big year for the New Jersey builder.
Viking introduces the 80 Enclosed Bridge Convertible and the 48 Convertible at the VIP Boat Show Preview in February.
Viking acquires the former Ocean Yachts facility on the Mullica River along with Ocean's 37 Billfish mold. With two manufacturing lines for the production of Viking's smaller boats, Viking Mullica begins operation. Viking's version of the 37 Billfish is the first new model built at Mullica. The building of Viking's largest-ever yacht, the 93 Motor Yacht, begins in the summer of 2016. The boat will have seven staterooms and the interior volume of a 110-footer.
The company adds a building for enhancing R&D efforts for developing the motor yacht line. Viking announces that the Riviera Beach, Florida, facility will expand its footprint with the addition of a parcel for large yacht service, repairs and additional dockage. The nearby Viking International Yacht Yard receives new docks, paved access roads and indoor storage.
In the late spring, Viking delivers its first 82 Cockpit Motor Yacht, an innovative hybrid that fuses the fishability of its sportfishing boats with the interior space and accommodations of a luxury cruising yacht. Viking's 93 Motor Yacht takes center stage at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show for its world premiere. The seven-stateroom, three-deck enclosed bridge yacht cements Viking's commitment to its modern motor yacht line.
Viking's new 44 Open shares the spotlight with the 93 MY at Viking's 15-boat display that draws a record 7,000-plus visitors. The Viking Yacht Service Center in Riviera Beach, Florida, completes a major expansion, that includes a 340-foot catwalk, a new electric service, two separate access gates and a full beautification project.
The year begins with the introduction of another legendary sportfishing convertible in the 60- to 70-foot range — the 68 C, a four-stateroom blue-water battlewagon debuts at the 2018 Miami Yacht Show.
The 44 Convertible also makes her world premiere, showcasing a two-stateroom layout and the interior volume of a 50-footer.
In the early summer, President and CEO Pat Healey announces the second generation of the Viking 58, a boat that helped build the company in the 1990s. Viking's "Gen II" 58 C promises to once again leave the competition in its wake and stake its claim as not only a tournament champion but as the best high-performing family cruising yacht in its class. Dealers eagerly await the unveiling and chance to push down the throttles at the 2018 Viking Dealer Meeting and Sea Trial Event in September.
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