Each boat in the Lund Boat Factory located in New York Mills, starts out as about 4,000 different parts. Through a long process, these parts are shaped, formed and added together until they become boats.
As part of the 2021 Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener, Lund Boats offered tours of the factory to show off this process on Friday, May 14. The factory hadn't offered public tours since prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Demands for boats have been much higher than usual since May 2020. Because of this, the factory went from offering some senior employees seven weeks off to needing them to come back three weeks early. Since then, manufacturing in the company has been busier than ever. In the past, the factory tried to not require working on Friday, but that's been necessary since the demand for boats increased.
Each boat starts off with aluminum coils being formed into different shapes. Lund Boats purchased 7.1 million pounds of aluminum this year, and it's likely they'll need to buy even more next year.
From there, the process begins, with holes riveted, parts welded together and foam pieces added. Test tanks are used to make sure the boat floats. They're washed and dried so they're prepped for painting.
Throughout the years, the boat factory has made a few changes to their assembly method, such as purchasing machines to assemble the boat pieces and the ways boats are held for welding. According to the factory, this is to increase accuracy in builds and to make tasks easier for employees.
The Lund Boat Factory wants to make tasks quicker for employees as well, especially since the demand for boats has made their schedule extra busy the past year.
According to the factory, demand for boats is so high right now because the pandemic has caused many people to start participating in outdoor activities, as they're able to safely socially distance. They also believe people were looking for activities to do, since everything was closed throughout the past year.
Low interest rates and disposable income also have contributed toward the increased desire for owning a boat. They're already sold out for the year and believe their boats will also quickly sell out in 2022.
Despite the sudden demand for boats, the factory is struggling to find new people to hire. Lund Boats attributes this to the shortage and pricing of housing in the New York Mills area.