The Savannah Yacht Company soon may be flying under a new flag.
Chief Executive Officer Bill Barrington told Effingham Industrial Development Authority members that a Knoxville, Tenn.-based firm is buying his company but intends to continue to build the luxury yachts his outfit has produced. HTH Yachts is buying out the investors in Savannah Yacht Company and will acquire all the assets, according to Barrington.
“I think it’s a pretty good deal,” he said. “Now the operation has deeper pockets to grow and expand.”
HTH Yachts is an offshoot of grocery distribution giant H.T. Hackney, which is headquartered in Knoxville.
The Savannah Yacht Company was requesting a transfer of an option it has on property in the Effingham Industrial Park to its new owners. Savannah Yacht has an option on 12 acres. In the company’s original agreement with the IDA in 2005, it got land at a reduced price for promising to create 50 jobs in phase 1.
Exercising the option means the company will promise to add 50 more jobs with a 50,000 square foot building.
Not allowing the transfer may have dire consequences, IDA Chief Executive Officer John Henry said.
“Mr. Barrington and Savannah Yacht Company are not going to be there and you are going to have a vacant building,” he said.
IDA members worried that the slowing national economy has had a ripple effect on the luxury yacht market.
“The marine industry is in a fairly deep down cycle right now,” Barrington said.
But he and Henry said it is unlikely HTH Yachts won’t be building more boats.
“The odds are he is not buying all the assets and inventory and turn it into a warehouse operation,” Henry said.
The IDA has financial protection should the option on the land be exercised and then that land sold to a third party.
The buyout will mean a change in management for Savannah Yacht Company, which started with former Sea Ray executives.
“I don’t know what will happen,” Barrington said. “I’m probably not going to be involved.”