The story of the Vancouver, WA-based, Christensen shipyard was one of trials and tribulations in 2015. Between the months of February and April the shipyard closed, went into receivership and was then acquired by Henry Luken, the now majority shareholder, and a business associate.
Since then, production of Christensen’s four superyacht projects has resumed and SuperyachtNews.com speaks with Jim Gilbert, the yard’s newly appointed interim president about its current position and what the future holds.
“Once the receiver handed over the business lock stock and barrel to the new company it was time to start ramping up operations again and hiring the best people back,” he starts. “There is now over 100 people on staff and we have four boats under construction, two of which are in the latter stages of completion and due within the next six months.”
Gilbert identifies this new era for Christensen as being distinct from the system that crashed in 2015, because of two key differences: “In the old yard a lot of bodies were thrown at problems rather than solutions and at some point the yard became very inefficient,” Gilbert explains. “The other important thing to know is that the two owners are [Christensen] yacht owners, they are very serious and experienced, and a company that was once resource-poor is now well resourced.”
Gilbert, who has previous business experience with Luken from their times with ShowBoat International and ShowMedia LLC, ShowBoat Internationals holding company, respectively, believes that “Clients are going to be very comfortable working with these guys because they have been through it, they know what happens, the ups and downs, and they are capable of providing the assurances that were previously untenable.”
Clarifying talk of a potential change in location for the Christensen shipyard, Gilbert explains the source of these rumours and the partial truth that accompanies them.
As well as the shipyard facilities in Vancouver, Luken owns a large shipbuilding facility in Chattanooga that he developed during the superyachting boom period of the mid-2000s.
“We could build six or seven 300-foot boats undercover simultaneously. In the early part of the century everything was going bigger and the market was booming and we were thinking about setting up a large yacht division in Chattanooga. This is actively still in the planning but it must wait until Christensen is on a role again and when there is a demand for larger Christensens.”
Speaking of his own involvement with Christensen, Gilbert humorously laments the premature end to his semi-retirement, but speaks highly of this new project.
“In all my years as a superyacht editor and publisher I appreciated how Christensen was universally regarded for the quality of its construction, systems, and especially for its superlative finishes. I look forward to working with the company’s owners to create a shipyard capable of both lowering costs and increasing quality. It’s nice to get back to the tradition of people who are passionate about boats, building boats.”