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A&M Manufacturing revitalizes Alachua boat manufacturing facility, bringing hundreds of good jobs to the area

BY LEN CABRERA

The City of Alachua is once again host to a thriving boat-building business, thanks to the partnership of A&M Manufacturing and StyleCraft Boats.

The 38-acre complex, previously owned by Hunter Marine and then Marlow-Hunter, has 210,000 square feet under roof. A&M Manufacturing CEO John Hemken said that made the site stand out when he was searching for room to expand his Chiefland boat-building business. At its peak in 2007, Hunter Marine produced over 1,400 sailboats with over 400 employees. The Alachua facility was purchased by A&M Manufacturing in September 2021 and is now ramping up production.

A&M Manufacturing currently has 60 employees between Chiefland and Alachua; Hemken hopes to grow the Alachua facility to 350 employees in the next few years. He said that no jobs are posted because they prefer to meet applicants and match them with current needs; no experience is necessary since employees will be trained on the job. Prospective employees should stop by between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Monday to Thursday.

A&M Manufacturing was founded by Glenn Davis in 1995 and originally repaired aluminum pontoons in Old Town, FL. That experience led the company to revolutionize pontoon boats by designing fiberglass hulls that are faster, more efficient, and more durable than the old round aluminum hulls.

In 2017, John Hemken joined the A&M Manufacturing team. He reinvigorated the business by focusing on business-to-business relationships and partnering with boat rental companies. As sales grew, A&M opened a facility in Chiefland, FL, in 2019.

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A&M Manufacturing produces hulls, platforms, and finished boats for all types of uses including house boats, fishing boats, tour boats, and work boats. They can also retrofit old pontoon boats.

A&M Manufacturing has fiberglass molds in three widths and variable lengths
An aluminum frame attached to fiberglass pontoons
A custom houseboat currently in production

StyleCraft Boats was founded by Fisherman’s Hall of Fame outfitter Billy Chapman to go “Beyond the Boat” by focusing on marinas and cash flow. They market the A&M Manufacturing products along with an “Outfitter Style” customer experience, helping boat rental companies make the most of their products.

The A&M Manufacturing and StyleCraft facility will produce boats under several brand names: StyleCraft (pontoon boats), WideTide (variable width pontoon boats), LancerCraft (wood-grain fiberglass runabouts), and Hunter (Daysailers).

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