Located just 95 miles north of Grand Rapids, Michigan, sits the city of Cadillac, population 10,355. Switching continents, the city of Les Herbiers (pronounced “Laser-B-A”), population 15,500, sits about 45 miles south of France’s fifth largest city of Nantes (pronounced “Naunt”). At first glance, other than population-size, the two cities don’t appear to have a whole lot in common but if you’ll bear with me I’ll explain where I’m going with this.
So in 1957, Henri Jeanneau founded the Jeanneau Shipyard in Les Herbiers, initially producing small wooden runabouts. Five years later in 1962, in the city of Cadillac, the Four Winns brand was founded also building small runabouts. Boat builders tend to stick together and as luck would have it, today, some 55 plus years later, both brands are owned by Groupe Beneteau where not only is experience and technologies shared but production facilities as well.
Groupe Beneteau has a long history of building boats in America going back 30 years with the opening of the factory in Marion, SC in 1986. But up until now, US production has been reserved for only the Beneteau and Jeanneau sailboats. This has now changed with the production of the very popular Jeanneau NC 895 in Cadillac, the very first Jeanneau powerboat to roll down a US production line.
A BIG thumbs up from Team Cadillac with Rick Videan (top left), John Russell (top right) and John Tripp (bottom left) along with members from Team Jeanneau including Nick Harvey (top center), Mathias Capurro (middle left), Paul Fenn (middle center), and Olivier Grossin (middle right) on board the NC 895, hull #3
It’s a rather big deal to make the commitment to build boats in America. First and foremost it takes a dedicated team with lots of experience and knowhow building quality boats. And while I’m not an overly technical, industrial sort of a guy, after spending a couple of days with the people in Cadillac and touring the factory there, I was pretty impressed. Not just with the work ethic here but the overall spirit. It reminded me of another group of boat builders I know, one that I have worked closely with for the past 20 years, from a city not unlike Cadillac, in France, called Les Herbiers. And you know something, while we may live in a big world, in our world, the world of boats and water, and having fun, in the end, we are not so different, and this to me is pretty cool.
The Jeanneau NC 895 will be making the boat show rounds this winter throughout North America. It’s a fantastic boat, so be sure to climb aboard. It will be easy to spot by its sporty looks and twin outboards on the back. Oh and by the large sticker on its side reading, Proudly Built in the USA!
It takes a Factory! The team from Cadillac takes time out for a photo-op in front of the very first NC 895 to be produced in Cadillac, MI USA