Sea Ray closing operations in Brevard, Flagler, dooming 825 jobs

llinois-based Brunswick Corp. says brand to be 'restructured'

By Wayne T. Price of Florida Today

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. - Sea Ray Boats, as part of a massive restructuring, is closing its two operations on Merritt Island, which will leave 380 people jobless.

News of the closing came Monday when SeaRoay's parent company, the Brunswick Corp., announced it was no longer trying to sell its high-end Sea Ray brand but instead would "retrain and revitalize" it, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

Headquartered in Mettawa, Illinois, Brunswick's brands also include Mercury and Mariner outboard engines and Bayliner, Boston Whaler and Meridian boats.

A Brunswick spokesman said the company will wind down operations on Merritt Island in the third quarter, which runs from July through September.

Tim Micko has been making boat cabinets at the Sykes Creek location for three years.

"All good things come to an end, I guess," Micko said.

He said he has been paid well and enjoyed building boats.

"You're aware that it could happen," Micko said. "But a lot of times they don't shut the plant down. They diffuse the situation, cut staff, do what they have to do to keep the doors open. But it just wasn't there."

Sea Ray's Palm Coast facility in Flagler County will close shortly, eliminating about 475 jobs.

All told, about 825 jobs will be lost at the plants.

"In connection with the orderly wind down of activity in Sykes Creek and Palm Coast, the Merritt Island Sea Ray engineering facility will be consolidated with Boston Whaler engineering to form an industry-leading Brunswick Fiberglass Boat Technology Center, based in Edgewater," said Daniel Kubera, a Brunswick spokesman. "The blending (of) the talents of these organizations will strengthen the Brunswick Boat Group’s overall capabilities and serve the needs of our fiberglass brands. Our goal (is) to make the Brunswick Fiberglass Boat Technology Center the most formidable of its kind in the industry."

Some Merritt Island Sea Ray employees may have job opportunities within Brunswick's boat division.

"Those with the right experience and willingness to potentially relocate or change job locations will be considered for the jobs," Kubera said. "We deeply appreciate the dedication and commitment of our employees, and we will help them through this transition."

Sea Ray has a long history with Brevard County, often testing its watercraft on Sykes Creek.

The local level of employment at Sea Ray tended to fluctuate with the boating industry and the economy as Sea Ray's impressive boats were seen as a luxury in many circles.

News 6 reporter James Sparvero contributed to this report.

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