In a move that signifies the end of one era and the beginning of another, DCB Performance Boats has relocated to Phoenix from El Cajon, Calif., under new owner Craig Hargreaves, who lives in nearby Scottsdale. Fresh discussions on Hargreaves family acquisition of the custom high-performance catamaran builder began almost a year ago and the deal was finalized late last week, but the acquisition process actually began approximately five years ago.
In addition to his DCB M44 Widebody catamaran dubbed Spooled Up, Craig Hargreaves now owns the custom high-performance powerboat company. Photo by Todd Taylor copyright Jokers Wild Productions.
“We had a conversation about this possibility back then, but the timing really wasn’t right for my family or (then-current majority owner) Rob Blair’s family,” Hargreaves explained. “Sometime last spring (DCB president) Jeff Johnston called me and said, ‘I think the timing is better for Rob. Is there a chance we can pick up this conversation again?’
“The timing was a lot better for my family as well,” he continued. “So I went to Kim, my wife, and said ‘Jeff is bringing this up again. What do you think?’ To my surprise she said, ‘Yeah, let’s take a look at that.’”
Key to the discussion was the DCB team being willing not just to relocate the business to Phoenix, but move their families to the business friendly Arizona city. To Hargreaves’ delight, the DCB crew was more than willing to make the move.
Having owned two DCB Widebody catamarans, an M41 and an M44, played a major role in the Hargreaves family-made decision. When they bought the 41-footer, they were completely new to the high-performance boating world. Not only did they experience the meticulous quality and stress-free drivability of the product, they were treated to the company’s renowned customer service.
“No one knew this sale was coming so they didn’t treat us any differently than any of their other customers—that’s my takeaway,” Hargreaves said. “They build great boats and have great customer service, and that’s the kind of company our family wants to be involved with.”
The new 27,000-square-foot, single-structure DCB production facility is located two miles from Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. At its 30-plus-year-old Southern California facility, the company had a combined 21,000 square feet of production in three separate structures.
Though Canadian Rob Blair is no longer the company’s majority owner, minority partners Tony Chiaramonte, Johnston and Paul Miller are retaining their ownership/management roles and already have relocated to the Phoenix area.
“This new facility is spectacular, everything is state of the art, no expense spared,” Johnston said. “But more importantly, with everything under one roof, we have been able to strategically align the production processes, which will drastically improve our efficiencies—which improves production lead times, which improves bottom line, which will allow us to deliver more boats, as well as reinvest capital into new models. And Craig has dedicated incredible resources to make sure that our team has everything it needs to work and succeed in a big, safe environment.”
The new DCB facility in Arizona is state of the art.
“Manufacturing in California is, for lack of better words, a dying breed,” he continued. “It makes far more financial and business sense to make this move.”
The majority of key DCB craftspeople also have relocated to Arizona. New to the crew is marine industry veteran John Teague, formerly with Teague Custom Marine in Valencia, Calif., who will be joining the elite DCB rigging team.
Like his fellow DCB minority owners Chiaramonte and Miller, Johnston is grateful both to former company owner Blair and company owner Hargreaves.
With a new owner and location, DCB is well-positioned for the future. Photo by Tom Leigh copyright Tommy Gun Images
“We cannot begin to thank Rob Blair enough—we wouldn’t even know where to start,” Johnston said. “Rob has supported our efforts for years and he has pulled us through tough times. He’s also been amazing to work with. We simply wouldn’t be here without him.
“As for Craig, his dedication to getting the deal done and positioning DCB for present and future success is simply incredible,” he continued. “As a DCB M44 Widebody catamaran owner, he doesn’t just understand the DCB brand, he understands the culture that we have created within the brand.”
Johnston paused for a moment.
“And now that we have this amazing new facility, you can expect even bigger things from DCB, starting with our largest full-tunnel catamaran to date,” Johnston said, then chuckled. “Think M37R, only larger.”
Within the next weeks, all of the assets—from hull molds to rolls of Alcantara—will be moved from DCB’s former home in Southern California to the new Phoenix facility. The four boats that the company currently has under construction will be completed in Phoenix, and all future builds will happen there.
As for the big-picture future of the DCB brand, Hargreaves and company have plenty of plans from new models to creating more boater friendly features. They’ll start with an unflinching evaluation of the models they currently offer.
“I think the landscape has really changed with Mercury Racing introducing bigger and bigger horsepower outboards,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, there are places for both sterndrive and outboard boats. I own both. But we’re going to be doing a lot of thinking about our outboard-related platforms.
“We also are going to place a really hard emphasis on improving amenities and usability,” he continued. “That’s not to say the product isn’t already wonderful and unbelievable, but there are some creature comforts we are going to introduce that will make life easier for real boaters, like us. We are always on the water. We have a few things in mind already that will move the product forward. We are going to out-think—and out-feature—the competition.”
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