By Gary A. White, President, P’Chelle International
Willkommen to the Jet Boat Capital of the World
Saturday, October 23rd, 2010 will go down in the colorful history of the Lewis-Clark Valley Jet Boat Industry as the day Europe knocked on the door and was greeted with a hearty “Willkommen”. Klaus Emil Schneiders, Chief Editor, Skipper Boote und Yachting (Germany) and boat buyers Hilmar Hoenes from On Water Sports (Germany), Martin Porath from Silverboote (Germany), and Tomai Gomersbach from Pontonboot (Holland) spent three amazing days testing welded aluminum jet boats on the Snake and Clearwater Rivers and visiting the factories of companies participating in the Snake River Boat Builders Export Program.
It is safe to say our guests were blown away by their experience, figuratively and literally. The weather was cold, blustery and wet. But, that is not necessarily a bad thing when one is testing boats that are designed to challenge all that Mother Nature has to give, including cold, blustery and wet. The buyers were impressed with the stability and maneuverability of these boats, representing various sizes and models, in choppy waters that are best enjoyed from the other side of a picture glass window, next to a roaring fire, sipping a warm cup of Starbucks’ best brew. It is a testament to our program participants that they took a Sunday (October 24th), normally a day of rest, family and football, to gather staff, round up several boat models and participate in the river tours. Their dedication, as well as the community’s, is what makes this program so successful.[caption id="attachment_284" align="alignleft" width="300"] KLAUS EMIL SCHNEIDERS, MARTIN PORATH[/caption]
Monday, October 25th and Tuesday, October 26th were devoted to factory tours. Because of the river tours, the boat buyers were aware of the incredible quality of these boats. The factory tours provided the “inside look” piece by piece, weld by weld as to why these boats are so incredible. Although eight boat manufacturers are participating in the program, each manufactures models that are unique in their own way; design, construction, price, application, providing a wide variety of opportunities for the European market.
Did I mention what an incredible community Lewiston/Clarkston is? They proved it again, hosting the buyers for several meals and producing the European Boat Buyers Reception on Tuesday evening (October 26th). This highly successful event was sponsored by the Lewiston-Clarkston Chamber of Commerce and Valley Vision. They probably had to break into their piggy banks to fund it. What was originally budgeted for 50 attendees, became 136! Lots of food, beer, wine and conversation! Ten suppliers exhibited, showing their support for the industry and adding to the significance of this amazing cluster. I would be remiss not to acknowledge them: American Turbine, Heater Craft, Hydraulic Warehouse, Inc., Idaho Impressions, Inc., Ende Machine and Foundry, KEM Equipment, Fastenal, Inland Empire Distribution Systems and Marine Power.[caption id="attachment_285" align="alignright" width="300"] MARTIN PORATH, TOMAI GOMERSBACH, RYAN ROGERS (HELLS CANYON MARINE), HILMAR HOENES[/caption]
Both Idaho and Washington expressed their passion for the program. Hank Ebert, Idaho Department of Commerce, spoke about its significance and welcomed the buyers. Steven H. Becker, Office of the Governor, presented a letter from Governor Christine O. Gregoire, Washington State, where she confirmed the area as the Jet Boat Capital of the World. (Please see a copy of the letter below.)
Auf Wiedersehen today, Hallo tomorrow
Our visitors departed early Wednesday morning (October 27th) for a long flight back home, impressed with the products they saw and the people they met, and dreaming about the business opportunities just begun. Although saying goodbye to new friends is never pleasant, seeing those friends again is always joyful. We are looking forward to seeing Klaus, Hilmar, Martin and Tomai again in January 2011 at boot Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany, which is “the world’s leading international show for boating and water sports,” where the program participants will continue to make history by exhibiting in the first ever Snake River Boat Builders Pavilion. I am looking forward to continuing this fabulous journey and reporting on boot Düsseldorf 2011 in the next Snake River Boat Builders Export Program E-Newsletter.
LETTER FROM THE GOVERNOR
By Christine O. Gregoire, Governor, State of Washington
Greetings From The Governor
I am pleased to extend warm greetings to all of those attending this evening’s reception in honor of our visiting boat buyers and distributors from Germany. It is a special privilege to welcome you to the beautiful Evergreen State.[caption id="attachment_286" align="alignright" width="238"] CLICK HERE TO READ THE PDF OF THE ACTUAL LETTER SENT BY WASHINGTON STATE GOVERNOR CHRISTINE GREGOIRE.[/caption]
As part of the Snake River Boat Builders Export Program, this trade mission is an important opportunity for our German friends to learn more about the high-quality, welded-aluminum jet boats built in Washington, as well as for the boat manufacturing cluster in the Lewiston/Clarkston area to develop relationships and negotiate business deals within the European market. This collaborative endeavor will result in increased sales, allowing participating companies to hire more employees and expand their businesses, while significantly boosting the local economy.
Washington is the most trade dependent state in the nation, and we recognize that trade will play a key role in our economic recovery. Four percent of our companies export, which is four times the national average, and one in three jobs here is either directly or indirectly tied to trade. The Snake River Boat Builders Export Program is a testament to the importance of developing new trade opportunities and nicely aligns with the Washington Export Initiative, which aims to increase the number of Washington companies exporting by 30 percent in the next five years.
Washington has strong ties with Germany, and I am delighted that this export program will further strengthen our relationship. Germany was our 10th largest export market in 2009, and a number of Washington companies have a significant presence in Germany, such as Microsoft, Starbucks, and Amazon. Likewise, many German companies are located here in Washington. We recently celebrated BMW’s decision to locate a manufacturing plant in Moses Lake, which will produce carbon fiber for BMW’s new Megacity Vehicle, an electric car that will be built in Leipzig. The BMW/SGL partnership was made possible through a strong collaborative partnership between the local government, port, and economic development community, and that’s exactly what we have here in the Lewiston/Clarkston area. I applaud all of the participating companies and their local and federal partners, as well as German-based Skipper Magazine, for making this program possible. I am confident that your efforts will yield a fruitful export market and will further position the Lewiston/Clarkston area as the Jet Boat Capital of the World.
Thank you all for coming, and please accept my best wishes for a rewarding and productive meeting.
Christine O. Gregoire
(Click Here to view the actual letter from the Governor in PDF form.)