Order a catamaran from DCB Performance Boats in an average year and it will take four to six months before the build begins. That’s an understandable byproduct of the El Cajon, Calif.-based brand’s popularity with discerning buyers of means, combined with DCB’s time-consuming level of attention to detail and limited production capacity.
Demand for DCB catamarans has never been higher. Photos courtesy/copyright DCB Performance Boats.
But if you order one right now, you’ll be waiting eight months before lamination gets started.
“We are booked out through March 2022,” said Jeff Johnston, DCB’s president, who co-owns the company with Rob Blair, Tony Chiaramonte, Paul Miller. “At present, this is the furthest we have ever been out.”
Between now and the end of June, DCB will deliver a M31 Widebody catamaran with Mercury Racing 700 SCi engines, an M33R with Mercury Racing 450R outboard engines, an M37R (hull No. 5 debuting at the Desert Storm Poker Run next month), an open-bow M35 Widebody with Mercury Racing 1100s, an M37R with 450Rs (hull No. 6 going to New York’s Ken Lalonde, a 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run organizing committee member) and another M37R with 450Rs.
As a custom high-performance boat builder, DCB is far from alone in its booming business. But while much-appreciated by all go-fast boat builders, being completely booked out with production for an extended period presents challenges, Johnston explained.
“Of course, we are incredibly grateful and appreciative for the business we have, but it’s a double-edged sword,” he said. “In 12 months, an M37R, for example, likely will cost us 3 to 5 percent more to build than it will right now. We have to balance locking in a price and keeping the sale with incurring most cost on the bottom line. But it’s also nice to have the guaranteed contract and eat the inflation—if we need to—rather than bumping prices now.”
Ever-escalating costs for materials and more inform Johnston’s perspective. And he doesn’t see those costs declining this year, or ever for that matter.
Spread across DCB’s conference room table, the lineup of current and future build sheets.
“Composite materials such as carbon fiber, Kevlar, fiberglass, resin and so on have gone up 5 percent to 45 percent—I’m not kidding,” he said. “Steel and aluminum for trailers and such has gone up 10 percent to 30 percent. Electronics from LED lighting, GPS monitors, switch panels, stereo equipment and more have gone up 5 to 15 percent. At the start of every Mercury Marine and Mercury Racing Program Year, which always begins on July 1, there’s a steady to 2- to -5-percent price increase. Add all those building components up, plus all the State and Federal increases, and that’s where I get the roughly 5-percent increase, as an average, on a total build cost.
“Again, I’m not complaining,” Johnston continued “We’re incredibly grateful and blessed for our loyal customers and we absolutely love what we do. But things aren’t always as simple and profitable as they appear. It is a continuous struggle—and juggle—with purchasing and supply-chain management, and Paul Miller does an excellent job keeping the constant flow of material inventory and productivity within the shop.”
Captured here for the first time at the 2020 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout and Super Cat Fest in Missouri, the first M37R true-tunnel catamaran from DCB went 120-mph on the three-quarter-mile course with DCB’s Tony Chiaramonte on the throttles. Since debuting at the event, DCB has taken more than 10 orders for the 37-footer.