“The clients who lost their boats have all chosen to build with us again – we haven’t lost their trust,” Michelle Van Kempen – Co Owner Butt Cat Sales and fitment PE

Port Elizabeth vessel fitment centre, Butt Cat catamarans, is back on track at an alternative site after a fire gutted their entire centre in a month ago.  The company, whose main factory is in Bushmans, lost five new boats at their PE facility in Brickmakers kloof where boats are fully commissioned before despatch to new owners.  “We lost five new boats in various stages of development,” confirmed Co-Owner of the business Michelle Van Kempen.  “Three of those five were almost complete, and the other two mid-way complete. They were all in the region of 23 to 32 feet and headed to not only local destinations but all over the world too,” Van Kempen said.

Fortunately the company has bounced back and has switched its sales and fitment operation to a new premises in Markman industrial area where they will stay until the Brickmakers site has been rebuilt.

In addition to losing the fitment centre the Van Kempen’s also lost a large part of their S3 Yamaha dealership. Thankfully they were able to salvage motors and stock before the building had properly caught alight.

Van Kempen said the cause of the fire still needs to be determined.  “There have been highly specialised forensic investigators flying in from Joburg to investigate and we are still awaiting the formal results, she said. “The fire definitely started in one of the (three) buildings. Two of the buildings share a roof, and the Butt Cat building was independent. There is a possibility that the fire started at the Butt cat building,” Van Kempen said.  “There was not a breath of wind that night, which is strange for PE. If there had been wind then that whole mountain would probably have gone up,” she added.

In the wake of the fire the company has received good support from their clients, and is now busy with the insurance claim. “The clients who lost their boats have all chosen to build with us again – we haven’t lost their trust,” Van Kempen confirmed. “There are plans to rebuild everything from the ground up – it will be about a six to eight month project. We hope to be back in our premises and fully up-and-running by the end of the year,” she said.

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