A&M Manufacturing

John Hemken, CEO

A&M Manufacturing
LinkedIn Profile
Year Founded: 1995
Levy County, FL

A&M Manufacturing Economic Impact

Jobs

14
17% Job Growth
2015-2020

Revenue

130%
Revenue Growth
2015-2020

About

A&M Manufacturing is North America’s leading fiberglass pontoon deck boat, workboat, houseboat & floating office/vacation suite manufacturer. After nearly closing 3 years, A&M has undergone a dramatic turnaround under new ownership – achieving profitability and expansion at its new 6-acre facility in Chiefland, Florida Beyond its existing specialty product lines, A&M’s next horizon is to disrupt the existing family/fishing aluminum pontoon boat market with a line of 24′ fiberglass pontoon boats

A&M Manufacturing Sees Record Growth after Business Overhaul

What led you to A&M Manufacturing?

Before September 2017, my two partners (Tory & Amy Brodahl) were Marine Canvas/Upholstery suppliers to A&M’s the founder/former owner. In late September 2017, they were not getting paid and found that the founder/former owner was just weeks away from closing the business. Since my consulting practice at the time specialized in small business turnarounds, Tory & Amy asked if I would be willing to fly down from Milwaukee, WI to see if there was anything I could do to help the business.

On September 30, 2017, we spent 14 hours and restructured the business from top to bottom. Tory, Amy, and I needed to immediately assume the leadership roles for the business for A&M to survive. The founder had the basis for a great business, built over 25 years, but had dug a financial hole by spending the 50% deposits for 28 projects – without building any of the projects. This resulted in 11 legal issues that further encumbered the business. Since we formally purchased the business in February 2018, all 28 customers have been made whole, all 11 legal issues have been resolved, a new 6-acre facility was purchased, 5 product lines expanded & the workforce expanded.

We have a business plan that is built on five production lines that will maximize uncontested market spaces that we have identified and tested
in the market. We believe that this business has the potential to grow to $25 million in revenue with 88 staff in the next three to 5 years.

Tell us about your business and the value it brings your customers?

Founded in 1995, A&M Manufacturing started as a custom fiberglass Catamaran & Trimaran pontoon boat company producing rugged, low maintenance, and long-lasting boats. One of the signature steps for A&M during our three years leading the company was the purchase of our current six-acre Chiefland, FL production facility in May 2019.

We are well on our way to accomplishing our mission: to rethink and disrupt the fiberglass pontoon/platform markets. A&M has transitioned from its custom boat heritage to scaling up 5 production lines that build superior fiberglass pontoon/platform boats. Our proprietary fiberglass designs provide a fuel-efficient, fast planning, smooth, stable, and quiet ride.

How has A&M been innovative in your industry?

We are partnering with the patent holder for actuated expansion of a boat platform from 8.5’ up to 17’ wide. This allows a deck boat, workboat, or houseboat to be trailed on the road at 8.5’ wide but expanded in the water to 17’ wide for additional function and capacity. We also partnered with another company that pioneered & holds the trade secret for creating exquisitely woodgrain finishes on fiberglass boats.

Finally, our team is creating a fully composite line of floating offices and floating suites. These are commercial, electrically powered vessels that can be purchased and/or leased through our financing partner.

How does A&M give back to the community?

Since we moved to Chiefland in June 2019, we have gotten involved in the local Rotary outreaches to local schools, served on the board for our
local Career Source center & will be a part of the new “planning committee/ housing authority” for the City of Chiefland.

What’s your competitive edge over other companies in your market?

Fiberglass hulls and pontoons are superior to aluminum pontoons because of their durability, customization, planning, and capability – yielding 30% more fuel efficiency and 30% more speed. We are a one-stop-shop in-house upholstery, aluminum welding/ fabrication & final assembly expertise.

Who are A&M’s customers?

Until this year, A&M was solely a custom boat maker with each boat was its own unique creation. There have been repeating customers, but the business did not have a distribution network or any long-term contracts. Our sales are now principally B2B, helping other companies make money with our boats. Our B2B customers include rental fleets, marine construction businesses, commercial fishing businesses, destination marinas, and tourism.

What are some challenges you see in the upcoming years while growing your business?

While we have begun the transition from a custom to a production shop, we still have a long way to go. Yet, we believe in our new A&M Operating System that leverages lean manufacturing, agile/scrum, and traction concepts.

We will also need to build a school-to-work feeder system with our local school systems to meet our workforce needs. We will double then triple our staffing in the next three years. Lastly, we have to build our own internal training and development systems to grow our own higher-level fiberglass, welding, and assembly talent.

What does it mean to you to be selected as a GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Honoree?

It is a huge honor!

It means that the three years we spent turning this company around, making customers whole, saving/ increasing employment, and creating new markets were worth sacrificing and hard work. Our entire team feels valued and recognized for what people around Chiefland call a business turnaround miracle.

What is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is short – why not you?

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