For a guy who's in his third year of hanging out a shingle, Jon Duer exudes the confidence of a seasoned owner. Duer was born several decades ago. The public version of Great Lakes Rigging & Supply (also a Doyle Sailmakers loft) was born in a Grand River storefront in 2009 after several years in operation as a home-based business.
Taking the plunge into expansion in spite of the slow economy, Duer searched and selected space in an industrial park adjacent to Rt. 2 in Mentor. Presiding over 5000+ sq. ft of production and office space at 8671 Tyler Blvd. Unit D, Duer says with pride, “We now have a place to do everything!”
The space took months of preparation, including concrete removal to create two floor-level sewing stations (see slide show). A floating wood plank floor was installed and finishes were applied to ensure a smooth surface for inspecting sails. Long benches were built along either side of the work room to accommodate big boat spars, roller furling and the like, and shelving was installed to hold sail duffel bags. The sewing stations allow on-site canvas fabrication and repair service, which was limited at the Grand River location. Along with all of that, the new facility also has ample area for seminars, which Duer plans to begin holding in 2013.
With a loyal following from the Grand River loft and steady promotion via word of mouth, advertising and social media, the company's business continues to grow. This fall's open houses in Mentor, as well as at West Marine in Sandusky were highly successful.
"West Marine has agreed to be a western drop off point," Duer explained. "After the open house there, we came back with a trailer just filled with sails and rigging for inspection, repairs and storage."
The company has a solid base, between representing Doyle Sailmakers for the territory from Ashtabula to Port Clinton and Ohio's smaller inland lakes, to handling all running and standing rigging for Tartan C&C Yachts. Duer and his staff of four part-timers handle a range of customer services including on-board rigging safety checks, commissioning and decommissioning. In addition, the company makes arrangements for, and transports boats south for the winter or delivery to competitions, such as Key West Race Week.
The American flag hanging prominently in the work area is symbolic of Duer's enterprising spirit and his commitment to using materials made in the United States.
"You get what you pay for," he says, referring to cut-rate boat supplies. "Some of what you order on the Internet is often made offshore from substandard materials. These materials, tend to quickly deteriorate or may be undependable, possibly unsafe."
"The braided rope we use is made in New England and the fittings and cable are made by a 60-year-old family-owned American business," Duer notes.
According to Ohio Department of Natural Resources 2011 statistics, there are over 426,000 watercraft registered in the state. Out of that, there are some 10,000 sailboats, most of them registered in the northern counties. Companies like Duer's that provide expert services, quality work and advisement are paving the way for further development of maritime enterprises that support recreational boating in the state.
See links below for more information on this company and previous articles for information on sails, rigging and the importance of inspections.