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Familiar waters: SeaArk Marine of Monticello begins building recreational boats again.

An Arkansas operation famous for its boat-building prowess has returned to familiar waters.

Following a four-year hiatus, SeaArk Marine Inc. of Monticello began producing recreational boats again this spring.

SeaArk, formerly known as MonArk Boat Co., has built boats for more than three decades. But the company sold its recreational boat division in 1988 to a division of the Brunswick Corp. The famous MonArk name was part of the package, which prompted the company to rename itself SeaArk Marine and focus on producing workboats.

SeaArk's lineup of all-welded aluminum johnboats, bass boats and pontoon boats are manufactured by a dozen workers under the fledgling SeaArk Boats brand.

"We're gearing up for trade shows in Atlanta and Dallas," says Robin McClendon, SeaArk's marketing director. "We plan on selling strictly to dealers, as opposed to direct buyers in our workboat division."

Before the recreational division was sold, the company built more than 30,000 pleasure craft. At one time, fiberglass bass boats were among its products.

100 In Division

The workboat division employs 100 workers. They produce patrol, fire, search-and-rescue, oil-spill recovery and transport boats.

Annual sales have been between $6 million and $10 million in recent years.

Two years ago, SeaArk attracted attention by using one of its large transport barges to save cattle trapped by rising floodwaters near Pine Bluff.

During its 30 years of operations, the division has shipped out more than 5,000 workboats to every state and 25 countries. The company's client list includes the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

The manufacturing of crew boats to service offshore oil platforms was the division's meal ticket until the oil patch foundered. A diversification program was instituted to replace lost oil company sales.

"That was most of our sales," McClendon says of boats manufactured for oil companies. "We're continuing to diversify and research new markets."

Oil-spill boats have become more popular during the past couple of years.

International sales account for about 25 percent of workboat sales. Three 40-foot transports, recently produced for Saudi Arabia, typify the export trade.

"We're working on a lot of things internationally, and we hope to expand sales in that area," McClendon says.
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Title Annotation:Across Arkansas: Southeast
Author:Waldon, George
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Jul 20, 1992
Words:362
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