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Boat building firm's success

PUBLISHED: 09:30 20 April 2009 | UPDATED: 09:03 06 July 2010

A FAMILY-run Broads boatbuilding and repairs firm is putting down its success in weathering the recession to a highly-skilled workforce and its willingness to take on a diversity of work.

A FAMILY-run Broads boatbuilding and repairs firm is putting down its success in weathering the recession to a highly-skilled workforce and its willingness to take on a diversity of work.

At a time when many boatyards are struggling to navigate through choppy economic waters, Goodchild Marine, at Burgh Castle, has taken on eight extra staff - increasing its workforce by 25pc - to deal with new six-figure contracts.

Sue Goodchild, 48, who set up the firm with her husband Alan, 52, in 1978, admitted the start of the recession had hit them hard last year, and they had been forced to lay off a number of employees after losing a major contract to a boatyard in Holyhead.

However, she said their staff were now working flat out on six jobs at the same time, and the firm was poised to be awarded another sizeable contract to repair a pilot boat from Hull.

A Jersey Sea Fisheries patrol vessel is currently undergoing a £140,000 total refit in the yard to be finished by June, while two 12-passenger electric boats, each worth about £30,000, are being built for Norfolk Wildlife Trust for use on the Broads.

Mrs Goodchild said: “We have just landed a £400,000-plus contract to build a pilot vessel for the port of Calais, having been up against eight other yards in competition for it.”

She said they did a lot of work for the RNLI and currently had a lifeboat from the Lizard, in Cornwall, in the yard for repairs.

Her team had just completed a £150,000 contract to build a Broads cruiser for a local client.

She said: “Whereas some firms focus on either the leisure or commercial market, we have always put them side by side. That safeguards us if one part of the business tails off.”

The wide-ranging skills of the workforce meant they could also deal with virtually any job - from repairing old wooden crab boats from Cromer to building hi-tech fibreglass vessels.

Mrs Goodchild said despite the recession they always had their eye on the next project, talking to people all the time and going to shows to promote the company.

Her husband had just returned from a renewable energy exhibition in Marseilles, France, and they planned to take one of the electric boats they were building to the Seawork commercial boat show at Southampton in June, in the hope of selling the idea for other inland waterways, such as in the Lake District.

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