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Ti business cruising to success

TICONDEROGA - Hacker Boat Co. has been making classic vessels for more than a century, but it's experienced a re-birth recently in Ticonderoga.

The company recently got new ownership, moved its operation from Silver Bay to Ti and has expanded its workforce to 50 people.

It's an exciting time for Dan Gilman, Hacker vice president of sales.

"It's an American brand over 100 years old; that really appealed to the new investment group," Gilman said. "Ticonderoga, and Hacker, have great potential in the minds of our investors. They're very civic minded and want to see Ti prosper along with the company."

Erin Investment LLC purchased Hacker about two years ago. George Babcock is the chairman. Lynn Wagemann is the president. Last December Hacker renovated the former Delmar Box on Delano Road in Ticonderoga and moved its production facility from Silver Bay. It still maintains its corporate office in Silver Bay, where its been since the 1970s. It also has two storage facilities in Hague.

Hacker also has a restoration facility on Montcalm Street in downtown Ticonderoga. Now that production has been moved, plans call for an upgrade of the Montcalm Street building.

"Our goal is to be a very positive presence on the main street of Ticonderoga," Gilman said. "We're working with PRIDE right now to improve that building."

Hacker makes hand-crafted, mahogany boats. Every board is cut, all 30,000 screws are placed by hand. Even the metal hardware is fabricated on site. Each boat gets up to 18 coats of varnish.

"There is very little automation," Gilman said. "These boats are made very similar to the way they were made 60-70 years ago. Every employee is a local craftsman. It takes years to learn these skills."

The new Delano Road facility has the capacity to build 15-20 boats at a time. It takes six months - about 2,000 man hours - to construct one and the company hopes to finish 30-40 boats a year.

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