Vigor gets bigger

A few years ago while at a Passenger Vessel Association convention in Portland, Ore., I was working on my laptop in the hotel lobby. My raffle-prize laptop bag was sitting on the chair next to me, its Vigor logo exposed. Art Parker, Kvichak Marine’s sales manager, walks by and sees me and my Vigor bag. Art’s reaction was something along the lines of “wow, did they get you, too?”

Well no, Art, but now they’ve got you. Come April, Art’s paychecks will have a Vigor logo on them as Kvichak’s merger with the Portland conglomerate becomes official.

Vigor, as you may know, has been on a tear the past few years. First it bought Todd Pacific Shipyards in Seattle, then Alaska Ship & Drydock in Ketchikan, then Oregon Iron Works (OIW) in Portland and now Kvichak Marine, the aluminum boatbuilder in Seattle. Along the way, Vigor has also picked up smaller Washington yards in Tacoma, Everett, Vancouver and Port Angeles, and another in Seward, Alaska.

When I first heard of Vigor, I didn’t even know how to pronounce the name. Is it vi-gore? No, it’s vigor, as in vigorous, which is what the company is. The name reflects the energy and enthusiasm of Frank Foti, the company’s charismatic leader. It’s not hype.

From where I sit, the Kvichak merger looks like another smart move for Foti and Vigor. Kvichak’s success with aluminum boatbuilding perfectly compliments Vigor’s other lines of business. OIW also builds small aluminum boats, but they have mostly been high-tech military boats, which will fit nicely with Kvichak’s growing interest in foreign military sales. Vigor also gets Keith Whittemore, Kvichak’s high-energy president, on its business development team.

Kvichak will also help Vigor get its share of the anticipated recapitalization of the Alaska fishing fleet, as well as offshore oil and gas in the Arctic.

So it’s full speed ahead for Foti, Whittemore, Parker and all the rest. I wish them well and look forward to seeing what they come up with.

About the author

Bruce Buls

With a degree in English literature from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!), journalism experience at the once-upon-a-time Seattle P-I, and at-sea experience as a commercial fisherman in Washington and Alaska, Bruce Buls has forged a career in commercial marine trade journalism, including stints at Alaska Fishermen’s Journal and National Fisherman, WorkBoat’s sister publications. Bruce spent 16 years as WorkBoat's technical editor before retiring in May 2015. He lives on Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island, about 20 miles north of Seattle (go 'Hawks!).

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