Tom Barker Aquamaster Alloy Boats2
Tom Barker - owner and operator of Aquamaster Alloy Boats

Boat builder hits highest sale numbers in its 30-year history

A boat manufacturer in Hillcrest is hitting its highest sale numbers in more than 30 years of operation owing to a nationwide demand for boats during the pandemic.

Tom Barker (pictured above) runs Aquamaster Alloy Boats in Hillcrest, where sales have doubled in the last financial year.

“It’s just insane, the amount of sales that’s gone through since COVID,” said Mr Barker.

“We’re just getting ready to do our end of financial year figures, but it’s doubled — it’s just gone berserk.”

Pre-COVID, the team would usually have four to 6 boats on the books.

Now they have around 40 boats.

Aquamaster construction
The team working hard on one of their boats

“It’s a bit of a shock to the system,” Mr Barker said. “No one saw it coming and now it’s hit a good few months ago, we’re in full swing.”

That has put a longer than usual wait on projects, exacerbated by shortages of construction materials being felt around the world.

As a result, Mr Barker has had to order materials two months in advance.

The great unknown right now is when the high demand will taper off.

“That’s the question everyone wants to know, I think maybe about another 12 to 18 months,” Mr Barker said.

Craig O’Halloran is one of Aquamaster’s longest-serving employees of 15 years.

The turnover is unlike anything he has seen.

“As far as the COVID recession goes, it’s the biggest growth we’ve seen in 20 years.”

“We’re only small, but we’re being really competitive,” he said.

That is significant for them because they are in the niche of building custom small-scale leisure boats, which is usually the last to perform during economic lulls.

Aquamaster Alloy Boats off to shipping2
The team ready one of their orders for shipment

“Usually, the leisure boating industry is last to feel it when things are going good, but first to feel it when things go bad,” said Mr O’Halloran.

He felt the full brunt of this during the GFC in 2008 when they had to reduce business hours to survive.

“We had to cut down to three days per week just to survive,” Mr O’Halloran said.

Today, they are standing pretty with the luxury of record sales and being able to recruit new staff.

“We’ve put on two new staff and we’re looking at a third,” said Mr O’Halloran.

Aquamaster has two dealerships in Queensland and one in NSW. See more of their projects on Facebook or on Instagram at aquamasteralloyboats or at aquamaster.com.au

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