City on the Move
by Gail West
Alaska Airlines Magazine – April 2013
© 2013 by Alaska Airlines. All Rights Reserved.
One relatively new business is reaping the benefits of the fishing expansion. Reynolds Marine manafacturers as many as 10 new gillnetters a year for the Prince William Sound fishery.
Charlie Reynolds, the company's founder, parlayed his experience working with other boatbuilders into his own Anchorage business. Reynolds relied on himself for start-up costs.
"I was totally out-of-pocket for my first boat," he says with a chuckle. "I had a contract to build one boat. When I finished it, I had three more contracts, and it's gone up from there. It just hasn't slowed down since I started."
Every boat Reynolds Marine builds is customized to the fishery and its owner. Reynolds says that boats shipped to Alaska from the Lower 48 are basically shells, and then explains how his locally built boats are different: "I build a base boat here, then add engines, plumbing, electrical, carpet, upholstery, stove, sinks and so on. Fishermen live on their boats while they're fishing. They need bunks, heads, and often, showers and televisions."
There are occasional variations to Reynolds' basic business of building gillnetters. He also builds oil-containment barges, landing craft and other commercial vessels. There's a real niche for his business in Anchorage, he adds, and in 2012 he had as many as 15 employees. "I have an unusual business in that I'm busier in the winter than in the summer—not because of the amount of work I have to do but because of deadlines." He says that the deadline for most boats is the opening of the Copper River salmon season, which happens around May 15.
"I turned down 32 boats last year," Reynolds says with a laugh. "I just couldn't build them in the time frame they gave me. If they're willing to wait, I can build later. There are always more boats to be built than I can get to in one season."
Customers find Reynolds by word-of-mouth. "I've built a lot of boats," he says. "They all know who I am. I like being known for the quality of my work—I think it's the best product for the Prince William Sound fishery."
Reynolds also likes the fact that customers can stop by to check the progress on their boats under construction. He says this definitely makes him different from the boatbuilders based outside Alaska.