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Burger Boats

Ron Cleveringa

February 2018

February 2018
Miami Beach, Florida

Ron Cleveringa has worked for one of the most iconic American Superyacht builders for over 18 years - Burger Boats, established in 1863.

"It wasn't diversification, we went back to our roots again kind of like the 48; smaller boats. We've built several research vessels, several passenger vessels that are used in the Great Lakes. And we've also been very busy with refit and repair of both commercial vessels and yachts over the last few years."

- It'll have the Burger quality, The Burger traditional construction practices, everything.

- Built here in the United States?

- Right here in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

- Why are you guys in Wisconsin?

- Where in Wisconsin?

- Why.

- Been there since 1863

- 1863?

- Right.

- So, let me just put this down, so Burger is like an historical ship building heritage over in the United States?

- Exactly. The only shipyard that I know of that's older is Hodgdon.

- Hodgdon's even older?

- Yeah, 1814, I believe.

- Good lord. It's amazing because you don't really associate America with ship building in its heritage. It seems like it's a very new upstart with Lazzara or Trinity and Westport, stuff like that. But it goes back hundreds of years.

- Over 150 years. Virtually in the same location.

- So who started Burger?

- A Henry Burger, a German immigrant, came across decided to start building small fishing sailing vessels. Commercial boats and eventually evolved into some yachts. Yachts, commercial vessels, and here we are today.

- Good god, now you guys, I know you've had some rocky waters over the last 10 years or so. Is that...

- We've actually been quite busy over the last 10 years building commercial vessels. We look back to our history...

- Now, you see, this is what we don't hear. We just hear, in the industry, that Burger is not building anything right now, but you diversify... well, was that diversification? Or was that...

- It wasn't diversification, we went back to our roots again kind of like the 48; smaller boats. We've built several research vessels, several passenger vessels that are used in the Great Lakes. And we've also been very busy with refit and repair of both commercial vessels and yachts over the last few years.

- You see, now, I have a bone to pick with the Dutch. The Dutch and the Germans cause the way that they sell their products is that they're better than American ones. It was never about America not really having the quality, it was about America had the speed. You could build something much quicker because America was built on, at a pace. You come to America and it's got that sort of, like, go go go. You know, we work six days a week. We take, what, five days holiday? And the Italians take a month off. It spells out why the boats get made quicker. But they kind of spin that as, like, a bad quality for American boat building. It always seemed... It always got me angry because it's...

- I don't understand that. We have: quality, innovation, technology. We've got everything right here. We've got the quality of craftsmanship around here, especially in the Midwest United States, it's amazing.

- Yeah.

- Hardworking.

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