Louisiana-based boatbuilder Metal Shark is ramping up production to build an inventory of stock vessels, with the goal of reducing lead times and enhancing customer service. Under the new program, the lead time for a single 38 Defiant pilothouse vessel could be reduced from 270 days aft to as little as 30 days, depending on equipment and configuration.

Metal Shark custom builds each vessel to accommodate the unique mission requirements of its customers. To continue this practice, vessels built as part of the company’s new stock boats program will in most cases be built to a stage where they are awaiting final fit out. This will reduce overall wait time while still allowing purchasers the opportunity to specify seating, electronics, fire fighting equipment, or other short lead-time components.

Models currently included in the new program include Metal Shark’s Defiant-class pilothouse 29', 38', and 45' models, Relentless center console 28' patrol boats, and 7-meter rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) with diesel stern drives, waterjets, or twin outboard engines.

“Evaluating our performance against that of our competitors and against vehicle manufacturers in other sectors, long lead times stand out as a serious shortcoming of our industry,” Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard said in a prepared statement. “In other vehicle sectors, customers can reasonably expect immediate or near-immediate delivery, yet customers in our industry must wait. We are significantly reducing this wait time by implementing a rotating inventory into our production mix.

“Our primary goal is to reduce the 240- to 365-day lead times associated with scheduling and the acquisition of engines and other long lead-time components,” Allard continued. “We’ve grown the company to a point where we can now make this investment in materials and labor with an eye to the future, accelerating production cycles while still maintaining the flexibility to accommodate our customers. This move gives Metal Shark a real competitive edge.”