Michigan’s marine industry just got a boost from a local family-owned manufacturer of yachts.
Holland-based Tiara Yachts said last week it donated $75,000 to Great Lakes Boat Building School (GLBBS) in Cedarville, which is in Mackinac County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
The gift will support incoming students and the school’s “Come Aboard, Launch Careers” capital campaign to increase capacity for educating future generations of marine professionals.
Tiara Yachts is a family-owned manufacturer of American-made luxury watercrafts. The company earned two 2021 Marine Industry Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) awards from the National Marine Manufacturers Association for outstanding customer service satisfaction in two product segments: fiberglass outboard boats and express cruisers.
Founded in 1955 by Leon Slikkers, Tiara Yachts today is led by his son, Thomas Slikkers, who is president and CEO of Tiara’s parent company, S2 Yachts.
“Tiara is not an assembly plant. We strongly believe in what we are doing by translating our passion into building individual boats,” Thomas Slikkers said. “We see that passion developing in the students from the Great Lakes Boat Building School, which is why we decided to make this gift.”
GLBBS currently is striving to address the shortage of qualified marine service technicians and marine carpenters.
“We are humbled and honored to be the recipient of this generous gift from Tiara Yachts, a pillar of Michigan, United States and international marine industry,” said Nikki Storey, president of GLBBS. “This flagship donation from the Slikkers family will transform the lives of students almost immediately, and the positive impact on the fundraising momentum for our new facility will have a positive ripple effect on the industry for many years to come.”
The Slikkers family donation earmarks $30,000 for two incoming student sponsorships of $15,000 each, which will cover almost 70% of the cost of each student’s tuition. The remaining $45,000 of the contribution will support the capital campaign to expand the school’s instructional infrastructure and allow it to more than double its annual graduation capacity to 50 students each year.
The $3.8 million expansion project at GLBBS involves the demolition of an existing building and docking structures, along with the modification of the existing site and utilities to accommodate the new 10,000-square-foot building for instruction and hands-on skill training in marine mechanics and marine electronics. The space can offer training to individuals currently working in the marine industry, as well.
The school recently said it is finalizing an economic development grant that will provide $2.7 million in funding. The remaining $1.1 million will be raised from private sources. Counting the Tiara Yachts gift, the GLBBS campaign has raised just over 40% of its goal.