In today’s world, it’s easy to assume that machines have almost completely replaced people in manufacturing. Technology is seemingly everywhere. When we look at a sleek new yacht that’s fresh off the production line, for example, we might think automation is responsible for bringing a naval architect’s design to life.
Real people, however, are still essential to the boatbuilding process. Recently, we sat down with a few longtime members of the Carver Yachts family; these six people have approximately 125 years of experience between them, and each has an important role at the iconic brand’s Pulaski, Wisconsin, headquarters.
“I left Gulfstream six years ago to come here,” says Steve Morgan, production engineer. “I like it because you can work your way up, and the leadership encourages you to express your creativity. Plus, every boat is different. You’re not doing the same things every day, like in other types of manufacturing.”
Rob Allen, an electrical troubleshooter who has been with Carver for 15 years, agrees. “I’m a problem-solver by nature,” he says. “The boats aren’t all the same, so I’m presented with new situations all the time. I enjoy finding solutions, and I appreciate having the opportunity—and level of trust—to do the best job possible.”
“I also really enjoy the collaboration,” Morgan adds. “We have great people here. I’ve known Cathy forever.” He gestures to Cathy Streble, an electrical harness panel leader who has been with the company for 35 years, and continues, “If I have a problem with wiring, I got to her, and we solve the problem together.”
Elly Lehndorf is a vinyl detailer for Carver. She says she likes the hours at the boatbuilding facility; for the last eight years, she has been able to pursue her profession and continue to work on her nearby dairy farm.
“We’re all like family here,” she says. “They’ve worked with me, taught me, and given me so many opportunities in just about every area.”
“We really do have a good work-life balance,” says Melissa Allen, glass shop crew leader, who has been with Carver for 25 years.
All of the team members say they take great pride in their work.
“I love seeing how ecstatic the owners are, because your product is exactly what they wanted,” Morgan reflects, and Streble adds, “Some of them are so excited, they come to see the boat being built, and they sign the hull.”
“We are so proud when we see the yachts out there,” says Dan Wirtz, who loads the boats. He’s been with Carver for nearly 36 years. “They look pretty sharp in the water.”
“I’m proud of the quality of the workmanship and of the product,” Rob Allen says. “We’ve learned to not be afraid to try new things, which is exciting for all of us.”
“In the last five years,” Morgan agrees, “we’re building things we never thought we’d make. That’s incredibly exciting.”