Knysna builder heading down under: four continents and counting…

“It’s nice to see the stuff you conceptualise coming together.” – James Turner

THERE’S good news coming out of Knysna where one of the country’s busiest yards keeps getting busier thanks to some carefully-laid business plans.

The ‘twin empire’ of Vision Yachts and Fusion Power Boats – now two separate business entities operating out of the same yard – is gaining traction abroad and adding some much-needed optimism to the local building scene.  Fusion now has a distribution agent in Australia, while Vision Yachts is seeing strong sales out of its office in America. Yard co-owner James Turner says Vision will soon expand its footprint to Europe with an additional office in Mallorca. The move represents a paradigm shift for Turner who once delivered yachts and has since worked his way up through the production cycle, one build at a time:  “I’ve been kicked down a lot in life but if there’s one thing I’ve learned is that if you can take a positive out of a negative then you’ll come out OK,” he said.

Turner believes innovation has been key to the company’s success, perhaps best illustrated by the new-look Vision 440 which is nearing completion. There are already four signed orders out of the US, with others currently under negotiation.

Not bad going considering the doldrums affecting other builders competing in the same range.

“We’ve brought a lot of new technology into our boat, with new processes,” Turner said, adding that the vessel also fitted snugly into a gap in the market for a highly aesthetic blue-water cruiser.

The decision to set up an offshore sales and servicing network is also paying dividends, he said:  “Setting up in the US also helps us compete and give the same level of service as the big companies, like Lagoon – it’s all about service these days,” Turner said. “In the past I was just focused on production but didn’t have the (business) foundation. Now we’ve built a proper foundation and we have a good product that has taken longer to tool. It is all looking good. By the end of the year we will be nicely streamlined and everything will be consolidated. I’ve also got the right people behind me, our own in-house design team.”

“We are trying to establish ourselves as leaders rather than followers,” Turner said.

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