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Manufacturer customized boat for Easter Seals.

Manufacturer customized boat for Easter Seals

To think the unsinkable has helped to keep Alotech Inc. afloat in a competitive industry.

Started three and a half years ago in Levack, north of Sudbury, Alotech custom designs and builds pontoon boats and steel boats and completes custom fabrication for such companies as Falconbridge and Inco.

But what has earned Alotech and its owner, Ron Couvrette, headlines is a customized pontoon boat designed and built especially for children confined to wheelchairs.

Commissioned by the Onaping Falls Lions Club, which donated the $25,000 craft to the Easter Seals Society, the boat took approximately a month and a half to construct, said Couvrette.

Couvrette explained that the 34- by 10-foot pontoon boat which was launched on Lake Sesikinika, near Kirkland Lake, last month had to be specially designed to include such features as a wheelchair ramp at the front of the craft and a layout which would allow for all the wheelchairs to face outwards.

The vessel accommodates 10 children and 10 support people.

Couvrette believes that in addition to the custom designing capabilities of his company, the reason Alotech was chosen to construct the boat is two-fold.

He said that one feature which makes Alotech pontoon boats attractive is the fact that they are filled with foam, a feature which makes the boats extremely buoyant.

As well, Couvrette reported that his company is the only registered manufacturer of pontoon boats in Ontario.

"We have full-certification with the Canada Coast Guard," said Couvrette.

Couvrette declined to comment on the price of the boats.

In business for less than four years, Couvrette explained that because the boat manufacturing market is so competitive, his greatest challenge to date has been attempting to get a "foothold in the market."

Competitors such as Peterborough and Springbok, with larger operations and marketing networks, have proved to be formidable challengers for the current eight-employee operation.

However, Couvrette said the smaller size of his company is partially responsible for its success to date.

He said Alotech is able to provide customized design and construction required by such customers as Easter Seals.

Larger companies such as Peterborough, said Couvrette, attempt to save money by using mass-production techniques.

He said that with the volume that the bigger builders deal in, a savings of $200 per boat can translate into a substantial amount of money.

"We are a smaller company, therefore we can put more into a boat and still provide quality at a good price. Some attempt to save on production, not us," insisted Couvrette.

Alotech currently produces about 100 boats per year, but there are plans in the works, reported Couvrette, to expand the operation.

The manufacturer explained that he hopes to expand into Manitoba and Quebec within the next two years.

The expansion will prove fairly costly so "we have to do extensive research of the markets to ensure that they are viable," he said.

Couvrette predicted that AloTech's current production level would double with the expansion. However, he stressed that the company would remain "faithful to his community."

Currently marketing his products province-wide, Couvrette said that Alotech once manufactured boats for dealers. However, the company didn't have the working capital needed to do the job effectively.

The alternative Couvrette decided upon was to set up his own small dealership at the shop.

Coupled with pontoon and steel boat production and sales, Alotech also provides custom aluminum fabrication services.

Couvrette explained that Alotech does custom fabrication on everything from bucket stands for the mining industry to fuel tanks and is constantly developing new techniques and products.

The largest of Couvrette's clients is Inco, but he also fills contracts for Falconbridge.
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Title Annotation:Manufacturing Report; Alotech Inc.
Author:McDougall, Douglas
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Jul 1, 1990
Words:610
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