Boat builder Mako Marine leaving South Florida for North Carolina
By Frank Norton
Boat builder Mako Marine International is shipping out by Aug. 1, taking 150 jobs and vacating a 10-acre industrial complex in Opa-locka.
The 37-year-old company plans to move its headquarters and manufacturing to Forest City, NC, said Ted Konigsberg, a broker with Colliers International who is trying to sell the site.
Some staff will relocate, too, an employee said.
Mr. Konigsberg said the complex is a tough sell now because marine and other manufacturing industries aren't adding capacity.
"As a whole, the industry is in trouble right now, so we're really not seeing an expansion mode," he said after contacting several boat manufacturers. "We had one injection-molding company that we thought was going to take it over, but frankly, they were bottom feeders looking for a very low price."
The four-building complex at 4355 NW 128th Street includes more than 200,000 square feet of industrial space and 10,600 offices.
Mr. Konigsberg said the site, near Opa-locka Airport, Interstate 75, the Gratigny Parkway and Red and LeJeune roads, is ideal for manufacturers needing heavy power loads, high ceilings and industrial zoning.
The plant is owned by H&J Properties Corp., headed by Mako founder Robert Schwebke, who sold Mako in 1992. Mako's lease expires July 31.
Operations manager Alton Herndon said Mako must move for growth. He also said North Carolina offered incentives.
Miami-Dade County's economic-development agency didn't try to keep Mako because the company was not on the Beacon Council's annual project list, said Doris McPherson, the council's vice president for communications.
She said council CEO Frank Nero told her Tuesday that he was aware of Mako's plan to leave but saw it as a "done deal" because it was an internal decision.
Mr. Konigsberg, the broker, said the Beacon Council did not contact him about the move. "I called them a couple of weeks ago to come and take a look at the facility," he said, "and they never showed up."
Ms. McPherson said the complex is in an enterprise zone, giving new users various tax breaks.
The boating industry will feel the loss.
"I hope this doesn't set an example for other parts of the marine industry and culture in South Florida," said Larry Smith of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida. "We're the largest boating community in the US, and to lose an icon such as Mako is a real blow. If we'd been notified earlier, we could have made an effort to keep jobs and an industry leader in our community."
An Opa-locka official said the city had no chance to try to persuade Mako to stay. "We're very saddened to see them go," said Ian Sachs, the city's community resource officer. "But Mako had made the decision before contacting us directly. We got kind of blindsided."
Mako has made center-console fishing boats since 1966, marketing through dealers globally.