Belfast boatbuilders French & Webb divest of one building; business as usual, otherwise
The world of boatbuilding is evolving, and French & Webb Custom Boat Builders, on Front Street in downtown Belfast, is evolving along with it.
Since 1996, the company’s presence along the Belfast waterfront has grown, according to a June 11 company-issued news release. At each step, the company weighed options, consulted the public, and made decisions that felt authentic while matching the needs of clients’ projects with spaces used by its crew, the release said.
The biggest expansion was the 2005 acquisition of the blue MBNA storage building along the Public Green, adjacent to the Belfast Boathouse. That waterfront space has allowed French & Webb to craft numerous award-winning sailing and power vessels, the company said.
“These projects helped establish French & Webb as a premier boutique yacht yard,” the company said.
“Along with this reputation came the opportunity for expansion in a new market,” the release said. “In addition to creating custom boats and intricate restoration projects, French & Webb is now sought after for high-end yacht and architectural products. Their expertise has now expanded in specialized finished projects including most recently a custom teak jacuzzi for a mega-yacht in Hamburg, Germany, wheelhouse joinery for a 140-foot classic sailing yacht in San Diego. The breadth of possibilities for the company has become immense, and much of the work is currently being done or shipped abroad.”
With this in mind, French & Webb said it has decided to relinquish its largest waterfront building.
“The property will now be used by local stewards,” the release said. “Todd French says he is confident in their vision and capabilities, and feels that he is leaving this unique waterfront property in excellent hands: a win-win: making way for other great opportunities for the town of Belfast.”
French and Webb will maintain its two other waterfront buildings, which continue to house dual workshops and office space.
The company, said French, isn’t going anywhere. They are not cutting roots to Belfast, nor to the people who have helped them find success in their niche. The business is passing on the property for a better purpose while expanding to meet client needs where they are, the company said.
Todd French and Peter Webb cofounded and dedicated their professional lives to building a world-renowned company, catering to high-end clients, offering exceptional interactive customer service and the highest quality workmanship and craftsmanship in boatbuilding today, the release said.
“In so doing, the stellar reputation of French & Webb has continued to expand worldwide,” the release said. “The company is excited about the professional challenges and opportunities that await both here at home and in the world at large.”
French & Webb invites the public to a viewing of the new documentary film produced by Alison Langley: NY40 Marilee: the Restoration of a Herreshoff Classic.
The film documents French & Webb’s two-year restoration of an historic 1916 classic racing yacht. Showing at 5 p.m., Sunday, June 17. Todd French and filmmaker Alison Langley will be available for Q and A after the showing. Free and open to the public.