USA, Virginia. Donald L. Blount and Associates (DLBA), the naval architecture and engineering studio based in Chesapeake, USA, has been acquired by Gibbs & Cox, another marine engineering and design firm based in Arlington, Virginia, but with offices throughout the US. DBLA is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the company.
Founded in 1988, DLBA specialises in the technical development of high-performance vessels and consulting services related to the design and construction management of large motoryachts, sportfishing boats, production boats, commercial and military vessels.
Don Blount, founder and president of DBLA
“DLBA’s new association with Gibbs & Cox will significantly enhance our depth and breadth in providing timely and quality high-performance marine solutions to our worldwide market, while continuing to foster and maintain our important and close relationships with our clients,” says Don Blount, DLBA president. “We are proud of the many accomplishments of DLBA over the last 27 years and look forward to being an integral part of Gibbs & Cox.”
Gibbs & Cox has engineered and designed nearly 7,000 vessels since 1929 for military and commercial clients in the US and internationally. The company is currently teamed with Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri’s Marinette Marine Corporation in the delivery of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the U.S. Navy’s newest surface vessel programme. Although Gibbs & Cox has also consulted on superyacht projects, the acquisition of DLBA is expected to provide the company with a further toehold in the leisure sector.
“With this key strategic acquisition, Gibbs & Cox continues our strategy aligned to provide high performance marine craft solutions to our military and paramilitary clients,” says Rick Biben, Gibbs & Cox CEO and president, “as well as continued expansion of our commercial market areas in engineering, design and construction management of vessels including megayachts, commercial craft, and production boats.”
DLBA has felt the downturn in new-build projects in recent years, although the refit and military side of its business is healthy. The studio grew out of Don Blount’s experience as head of the combatant craft department for the US government. The entry of Gibbs & Cox offers the opportunity for growth and a return to DLBA’s origins in the military sector.
DLBA CEO Bill Blount
“The merger came about through mutual agreement,” says DLBA CEO Bill Blount. “We had been working with Gibbs & Cox on a periodic basis since 2002 and supported them on the LCS programme. My father is 80 years ‘young’ and at some point there had to be a transition plan for us, while Gibbs & Cox were looking to diversify more into the yachting business. It was a good fit for both organisations and as far as we’re concerned it’s business as usual.”
Peter Buescher, DBLA design & styling manager
DLBA design & styling manager Peter Buescher has been a regular contributor to SuperyachtDesign in the past. In Q13, for example, he talked of the powerful influence that military design has had on yacht design with specific reference to a fast patrol boat as an example of the market crossover: “There seems to be something inherently attractive, at least in contemporary styling trends, about the aggressive appearance of modern patrol boats that makes them desirable.”