Perhaps you have no idea, but you boat maybe comes from Poland. If the electronic business is mostly a Chinese affair, the boat business is often a subcontractor affair and one of the most famous country for that is Poland. A place where boats are produced for the European market but also for the American market.
Born after the fall of communism, the nautical industry of the country as we know it, was created by people like the French Pierre Charlot who understood its potential very early. Then came other pioneers like the French manufacturer Jeanneau, who suffered some disappointments in the beginning. However, year after year, the sector has been organized with more and more factories and production that has become very qualitative at a lower cost than most other countries. Today, with 22,000 boats leaving the factories each year, Poland is the largest boat builder in Europe and Polish factories manufacture for French, Scandinavian or American brands. Poland is today the world’s second-largest shipbuilder behind the United States and the largest supplier to the US market.
As at the beginning of this sector, the country remains mainly a subcontractor market for other countries which boosts the country’s trade balance since 95% of Polish production is exported for a total of 484 million Euros ($ 540 million), a figure that has almost doubled in five years. The top three export markets are Norway ($ 77 million), France ($ 61 million) and the U.S. ($ 57 million). The first customers are Beneteau, Jeanneau (which has a large factory in Ostroda), but also Axopar, Bayliner, Sea Ray, Windy, Quicksilver and many others.
The factories are mainly located in three regions, Gdańsk to the west, Ostroda to the center of the country and Augustow to the north to the Lake District.
Today, there are more than 1,000 boating companies and the sector employs more than 40,000 people.
The new generation storming the world
After a learning phase, the nautical sector knows a real change today. Now widely recognized in the world, Polish productions are accompanying the market with notably larger boat sizes. The average size of the units produced being to date from 8 to 11 meters long.
However, with such know-how, Poland does not intend to remain a subcontractor forever and it is natural that more and more 100% Polish brands emerge. Among the leaders there are Parker, distributed throughout Europe and thinking about the US, but also Delphia, recently acquired by the Beneteau group, Sunreef, one of the iconic figures of the luxury catamaran market and, of course, Galeon which is now the largest Polish brand but also one of the major brands in the world motor yacht market from 40 to 70 feet.
The country also has some iconic brands in the field of custom yacht like Conrad, known for its fabrications including the famous Viators. Each of its brands is also a champion of exports since the domestic market represents only 5% of the boats produced in the country. “Our customers are everywhere in the world. We have owners from the USA, from Europe, Asia, Australia “notes Karolina Paszkiewicz, Marketing Director at Sunreef.
In 2006, the Polish Chamber of Marine Industry and Water Sports – Polboat – was created to structure and organize the Polish sailing industry and the association now includes 70% of Polish nautical companies.
There is also the creation of many new factories and many brands trying to make a name for themselves on the market, a sign of a sector that is becoming mature.
A deserved success, built on the price of the workforce but also on the quality of the boats, a point on which insists Sebastian Nietupski, the president of Polboat “Our goal is to produce the best possible quality in the world markets”.
Still, today, Poland is a little victim of its success and must increase its production capacity. “Currently, we are in the process of expanding our business and finding solutions, “says Nietupski again. A situation taken seriously by the authorities of the country that works to increase production capacity but also to train future engineers through highly specialized universities.