HOLLAND, Mich. – Tiara Yachts has met the tough economy with a new venture: the wind energy industry.
In a manufacturing facility that built 400 boats annually in 2006 now has half of its prior workforce, an area that used to hold boats now holds blades for wind turbines.
In order to stay viable as a business, Tiara Yachts looked in a different direction, but with similar properties to boat-building. It found a match in the wind-energy industry creating blades up to 150 feet in length. Tiara then created another company called Energetx Composites, which uses the same factory space that once built the boats. The blades are made from fiberglass, laminates and carbon fibers.
“We want a strong boat hull, we want a strong deck assembly, and we want to decrease the weight of those, for marine efficiency,” Tiara’s Steve Busch told a reporter from NPR. “So, marine engineering and aerospace engineering in that application are very, very similar.”
The wind energy and blade-making business has had its own ups and downs, and is not the boon the company had hoped for — yet. However, experts say that the boating market has stabilized and that the wind energy business is starting an upswing. By fall, Energetx hopes to increase from 40 to 300 employees.