Street Talk

Street Talk: More fresh faces

Good, clean fun.

July 1, 2016
Text Size:
Grand-Craft implements elements of Chris-Craft’s iconic designs into the production of retro mahogany boats at its Holland plant. Courtesy Grand-Craft

Walker city officials may be voting on their political fate later this month when a ballot question regarding term limits is presented.

City Clerk Sarah Bydalek recently confirmed that petition signatures turned in by Walker Citizens for Municipal Term Limits exceeded the 859 required to place the proposal on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The initiative seeks to implement term limits for Walker city commissioners and the office of mayor, according to Bruce de Wit, a spokesperson for the group. The initiative would limit commissioners and the mayor to two four-year terms each. He said the measure will not stop someone from being elected two terms as a commissioner and then being elected an additional two terms as mayor.

A similar vote passed in Grand Rapids two years ago sent Mayor George Heartwell and two commissioners to the sidelines.

Walker commissioners will review the ballot language on July 25 and decide whether to place the amendment on the ballot.

“I had very positive responses from voters for term limits,” said de Wit. “I knocked on many doors and everywhere the support for term limits is overwhelming. Many people believed the city already had term limits.”

Mayor Mark Huizenga and Sandra Howland are the only members of the commission who would be eligible for re-election if voters pass the term limits.

Lending a hand

The beer world is currently one of the industries evolving the quickest in terms of consumer demands and trends, and brewing companies are trying to keep up.

Bigger breweries such as AB InBev are snatching up smaller breweries and creating a nationwide network of “crafty brewers.” Breweries such as California’s Lagunitas Brewing Co. — 50 percent owned by Heineken — just announced the acquisition of three small breweries across the country. Other brewers are partnering with private equity firms, such as the one that mates Perrin Brewing Co. with Colorado’s Oskar Blues Brewery and Florida’s Cigar City Brewing Co.

Then there are those like Founders Brewing Co., which used a little help from a Spanish brewery to fund its explosive growth.

So it’s refreshing to see still others simply improving the best they can by capitalizing on opportunities and growing naturally. The Mitten Brewing Co. is taking over Northport Brewing to help a business with a finite lifespan after its partners and brewer abandoned ship, and will open a taproom at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula sometime this month.

How long growth is sustained in the craft beer industry has yet to be seen, but for some entrepreneurs like the Mitten’s Max Trierweiler and Chris Andrus, it’s all about taking the opportunities as they come.

Smooth sailing

A Holland boat-maker hopes a blend of the industry’s storied past and today’s technology is the wave of the future.

Retro mahogany boat-builder Grand-Craft Boats has started production on its new 25-foot Super Sport powerboat in a building that once was part of the iconic Chris-Craft boat plant near Lake Macatawa in Holland.

Grand-Craft owner Jeff Cavanagh purchased the 10,000-square-foot former Chris-Craft facility at 60 Chris-Craft Way for production of the company's new 25-foot Super Sport and other custom runabouts.

The introduction of the Super Sport is the first all new boat model from Grand-Craft in four years. The company was started in Holland in 1979 as a builder of vintage-design mahogany powerboats based on past Chris-Craft boat designs. Cavanagh purchased Grand-Craft in 2010 and moved the business to its main plant and headquarters at 1821 Ottawa Beach Road on Lake Macatawa.

“We still use elements of the tried-and-true classic boat designs and implement these using current technology in order to meet today's performance demands,” Cavanagh said. “Today, every boat we build is drafted on CAD-CAM software and hand-built using the most advanced epoxies and varnishes to produce an easy to care for boat.”

While the boats may be easy to care for, they are not easy to build.

“All our boats are entirely hand-built and take from seven months to a year-and-a-half to build, depending on size,” Cavanagh said.

The custom boat-builder practices the slow process of cold molding planks of mahogany to create boats that are as durable as they are beautiful. New boats from Grand-Craft range in price from $120,000 to over $1.5 million for a custom designed, one-of-a-kind boat.

Each piece of wood that goes into the production of a Grand-Craft boat is cut by hand. Cavanagh said the mahogany exterior of each boat receives about 20 coats of varnish on the finish. Grand-Craft uses a special wood epoxy saturation process to bond the mahogany pieces together to make the hull watertight. Finally, the interior is finished with fine woods, chrome accessories and color-matched vinyl or leather seating.

The company also restores classic Chris-Craft, Grand-Craft and other mahogany boats for boat owners. Cavanagh said the restoration process requires removing all of the worn hardware, accessories and seating and sanding the boats down to the original wood before starting restoration.

The new 25-foot Super Sport, which can accommodate up to eight people, will be priced at $279,000. That price point is not for everybody, but Grand-Craft already has cultivated quite a client list.

The company counts among its buyers Hollywood movie stars Robert Redford, Jennifer Lopez and Tim Allen, as well as Michigan rock star Kid Rock.

Cavanagh said the Super Sport will be introduced this fall at the Geneva Lakes Antique and Classic Boat Show in Wisconsin, Sept. 24-25, with a world market introduction at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Nov. 3-7.

Going to the dogs

Sunday’s Whitecaps game will draw a few extra enthusiastic “fans.”

The “World’s Largest Dog Wash” is coming to Fifth Third Ballpark for the 14th time to benefit children’s cancer research and grief programming at Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids.

“Fundraisers like the Dog Wash allow Gilda’s Club to continue offering free cancer and grief programs to support children ages three to 18 who are grieving the death of a family member or friend for any reason, or impacted by cancer,” said Wendy Wigger, president of Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids.

The event, which will be held during the Whitecaps “Dog Days” game, will take place from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., July 10, and will feature dog washes, grooming and doggy bag giveaways. In addition to the dog wash, the event will include a pet contest with prizes for best dog trick, longest dog ears and dog/owner look-alike.

The cost to participate in the dog wash is $10 per dog, with proceeds going to Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids.

Admission to the Whitecaps game is not included with dog wash festivities, but attendees can park at the ballpark for free during the event.

Recent Articles by Business Journal Staff

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus