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Donzi On the Rebound? Fingers Crossed

Admitting when you’re wrong is the mark of a stand-up guy, at least when the guy in question is, well—if you must ask—me. In my recent Boats.comcolumn on the rise of regional high-performance boat builders, I described Donzi Marine as having “gone dark.”

I was wrong. Or at the very least, guilty of overstatement.

“Hey Matt, the lights have been on here the whole time,” a good-natured Craig Barrie, Donzi’s vice president of sales and marketing, said in a voicemail he left me yesterday. “Give me a call.”

I called Barrie, an industry veteran who for years was the general manager of Cigarette Racing Team and later founded Dragon Powerboats immediately.

Turns out that Donzi has nine boats currently in production, according to Barrie. And the Sarasota, Fla.-based builder did well at the recent Miami International Boat Show.

“Going into the show, I have to admit I really didn’t expect to sell anything,” said Barrie. “But we came out with five orders, and all big stuff—one 38 after the next—too. It’s encouraging.

Without question, the last nine months have provided a wild ride for Donzi. American Marine Holdings sold the company at beginning of summer in 2009. New owners, the majority shareholder being Liberty Associates, which also owns Fountain Powerboats, took over shortly thereafter.

Fountain was another one of those companies I said had “gone dark,” and Washington, N.C., company has, according founder Reggie Fountain, has resumed production.