PROFILE: PowerCat powers on
With new owners at the helm, the locally-built PowerCat Marine brand looks set for a big year in 2019 and beyond.
It is the dream of many people working in the marine industry to one day run their own business and put their unique stamp on boating in this country for future generations to enjoy. For Grant and Melissa Oliver in Queensland, that dream is now a reality having last year taken on the running of the well-known, multi-award winning PowerCat Marine brand based at Caboolture north of Brisbane. Since taking over ownership of the company from the founders, Steve and Lynda Shaw, the husband and wife team have been busy meeting new customer orders as well as preparing to unveil new models on the local market in 2019.
The PowerCat Marine brand has built a loyal following over several decades, attracting keen boaties and cat lovers who appreciate the smooth ride and stability of the hull design as well as the quality of the build and internal fit-out. Being a family-owned company, PowerCat prides itself on offering a personalised service with the ability to deliver exactly the right boat for whatever purpose. The versatility and performance of the fibreglass boats has also seen them being used for a variety of commercial applications including rescue services and water taxis.
Over the years too, the brand has picked up more than its fair share of industry awards in recognition of its enduring popularity and quality craftsmanship.
A dream come true
Although new to the business, Grant Oliver is highly experienced in the marine industry and with the PowerCat name in particular. His association with the brand dates back to 2004 when he began supplying components to the company as a sub-contractor. Over the years, his involvement with the manufacturing process grew until, in the end, he was overseeing complete builds from start to finish. It’s fair to say that few in the industry would have a better knowledge of the ins and outs of the PowerCat design and manufacturing process so his new role is the perfect fit, both for him and the company.
Even when he first started out working on the boats, he always harboured the ambition to one day be in a position to take on the running of the company.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to own it,” he said.
In recent years, he built the boats under license for the Shaws so when the time came for them to take a well-earned retirement from the boat building business, he saw the opportunity to make his dream a reality. With positive signs of growth in the industry and the benefit of starting out with an iconic brand, the time was right to take the next step up.
Since taking over the reins in October last year, the new owners have hit the ground running, building new four boats for customers at a time of year when work typically slows down. They have also been busy planning the company’s next stage of evolution which will see it launch a range of new innovations. Chief among these is the introduction of new design features and fresh styling to modernise the boats and lay the foundations for the brand’s continuing success in years to come. Although it’s still early days, Grant Oliver has a long-term vision for the brand which includes new models and a contemporary design building on the strengths of the proven PowerCat formula.
The recent builds are a good illustration of both the company’s legacy and its future direction. These include two models which were for existing PowerCat users and two for new clients. One was for a new 3000 sedan model with an enclosed hardtop, the first of its kind and the first produced entirely under the control of the new ownership. This went to a client who had owned two previous PowerCats and who insisted that he take the first boat fully built under the new management. Another 3100 model was sold to a customer who was looking for their second PowerCat.
Cats to suit everyone
This year’s Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show will be the first major opportunity for the boating public to get a good look the latest PowerCats with four models going on display including an exciting new 2400 centre console model. The display will highlight the brand’s appeal across different boating markets including a 2900 designed for the fishing enthusiast, the new 3000 Sports Sedan with enclosed hardtop, and the flagship 3100 Sedan Platinum Cruiser which offers the ultimate powered cat cruising and fishing experience.
Having such a broad range of boats available to put on display is a direct result of the hard work undertaken since acquiring the company.
“We’ve been fortunate to have new builds going through and very supportive customers.”
Grant Oliver is also very appreciative of the support and encouragement received from Steve and Lynda Shaw during the handover as well as assistance from the industry in general, particularly fellow Queensland boat builder and Suzuki distributor, The Haines Group.
“The support from The Haines Group has been awesome,” he said. “When we needed engines they were able to step in and help us out. It’s been great.”
A long and successful tradition of boat building in Australia has been given a new lease of life. The cats are back and, with new energy and drive, are ready to power up again.
This article was first published in the January-February 2019 issue of Marine Business magazine.