Ti business cruising to success

Prices start at $100,000 and go to $250,000 for standard models. Custom boats cost more.

"We're Ticonderoga's secret; most people don't know about us," Gilman said. "In the niche market of wooden boats, Hacker is No. 1. There's been a real increase in business, particularly in the European market and we have a five-year plan to become a more global company."

As Hacker promotes itself, Gilman said, it will also promote Ticonderoga.

"We will feature Ticonderoga in our ads worldwide," Gilman said. "We will highlight Ticonderoga as our production facility. The name of Ticonderoga will get out to the entire world."

Hacker recently hired five new employees and plans to add more. Workers join the company as apprentices and learn the craft. Most of Hackers' employees have been with the company for a decade or more.

"These are all highly-skilled boat builders, the finest boat builders in the world," Gilman said while giving a tour of the plant. "It takes years of training to be a master boat builder. And they're all local; they're your neighbors."

Erin Babcock, assistant sales manager, said Hacker is committed to the area and its residents.

"We're really trying to advance our marketing efforts while maintaining our ties with Ticonderoga and Lake George," she said. "We want to hire locally and foster a good relationship with the community."

The Adirondack Chapter of the Antique Classic Boat Society recently toured the Hacker plant. The tour was part of an effort to promote the company locally.

"We want the people of Ticonderoga to understand we've made a new start," Gilman said. "We want to be a part of the community."

Hacker Boats races its history to 1908 when John Hacker took note of engines being designed for cars in Detroit and applied the technology to boats.

He designed a round about that became known as the "Steinway" of boats, a reference to the famed piano. He built boats for the rich and famous and helped the U.S. Navy during World War II.

When fiberglass boats were created in the 1950s, their limited maintenance and cheaper price made them more popular with the general public.

Hacker survived, though, by catering to high-end classic boat lovers.

"The brand is such that it endures," Gilman said. "Now the great American boat is stepping forward into the 21st Century."

In fact, Hacker recently unveiled its newest model, the Sterling. It will make 25 and no more, making it a must-have for boat collectors.

"We don't make replicas," Gilman said. "We make originals."

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