The original Columbia Yacht
Corporation was founded as Glas Laminates in
1958 by Dick Valdes shortly after college.
Glas Laminates, a fiberglass contract company,
eventually focused its fiberglass development
expertise on the production of sailboats and
became Glass Marine Industries (GMI). Early
Columbia models included the Columbia 24 and
the Sparkman & Stephens designed Columbia
29. By 1964, Columbia Yachts was generating
over $2.5 Million in revenues per year and
growing. Then 28-year-old president of GMI,
Dick Valdes, had this to say:
"GMI....has rapidly attained a dominant
position in the industry through new engineering techniques and
efficient production methods. The company has demonstrated its ability
to produce its own plugs and molds that are setting a new standard
of excellence in the industry. One of the main reasons for the Columbia's
popularity is the use of outstanding marine architects such as Sparkman
& Stephens, Wirth Monroe, Charles Morgan, and Blaine Seeley."
The next year, Columbia introduced the Columbia
50, at the time the world's largest fiberglass production sailboat.
With classic beauty and exceptional comfort below decks, the Columbia
50 rapidly made headlines by winning such notable races as the Chicago-Macinac
and the Newport to Ensenada (the world's largest international yacht
race). That same year, GMI was renamed Columbia Yacht Corporation
to tie the corporate name with that of the yachts.
By the late 1960s, Valdes had
built the company into the world's largest
fiberglass sailboat manufacturer with manufacturing
plants throughout the world. He sold the company
to Whittaker (listed on the NYSE), but retained
his position as president of Columbia Yacht
Corporation and was instrumental in the development
of Whittaker Marine Group, which ultimately
included Bertram Yachts, Trojan Yachts, Riva,
Desco Marine, Kettenburg, and Balboa Marine.
Total sales of the Whittaker Marine Group reached
between $250 and $350 Million in the early
70's during Valdes' tenure.
Following Dick Valdes' departure from Columbia
Yachts, the company was reheadquartered to the east coast, and was
eventually sold to Hughes Boat Works, and later to Aura Yachts.
In the mid-80's, Hughes regained control of the company. Eventually,
Columbia Yachts faded from history.
Today's Columbia Yachts are very different than the boats Dick Valdes launched five decades ago, but they share one thing in common; pushing the limits of current yacht-building technology with state-of-the-art design and precision construction. email@example.com.
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