When you consider all that has gone on since 1948, the Hewescraft story is pretty amazing on a number of different fronts. The first is that while boat building has changed dramatically over the last 66 years, Hewescraft has not only stayed in business, they have continued to grow and expand by simply building one product very, very well. They have done this by sticking to core values and by not being content to stick to traditional methods of production.
Click to enlarge these pictures of these Hewescraft models:
Hewescraft is headquartered in Colville, Washington which is located about two hours north of Spokane on highway 395 and home to about 4,700 folks. Surrounded by lush forests, mountains, and streams, and when the sun is out, it is one of the most beautiful places in Eastern Washington. If you like the outdoor activities, this is a great place to live. This also explains why Hewescraft has stayed here since it was founded and is currently able to attract employees from all over the US. The quality of life is excellent, the cost of living low, Hewescraft is a great place to work and you work with great people. Currently Hewescraft employs about 100 people all of whom work one shift.
One of the keys to Hewescraft success is that they follow a simple formula started by their founders, Ralph and Bob Hewes who built their first aluminum boats for friends at the end of WWII after buying aluminum from a junk dealer in Spokane. The first boats were riveted and after completing the first three all of a sudden there was a demand for more and Hewes Marine was born. The formula since then has been to follow the three “R’s” ; Roomy, Rugged and Reliable. The end result is that Hewescraft is now the number one selling aluminum boat in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. All the Hewescraft line is built from start to finish in the Hewescraft facility in Colville. Ralph and Bob started building these boats out near the airport and those buildings are still there. When it it became apparent they would need more room, they bought an old bowling alley and have continued to add on to that building as they’ve needed to expand production.
Certainly the recent recession slowed a number of builders including Hewescraft however the team at Hewescraft used that time to improve their manufacturing process and gain efficiencies in production. The results of these changes are indeed impressive. They now offer a version for Freshwater Rivers and Lakes in four different configurations. The Open Fisherman is available in three different lengths, 16’, 18’ and 20’, the Sportsman in the same lengths, and the Sport Jet and Pro V in 18’ and 20’. The basic package is the same within the style of vessel and the options are limited, allowing the dealer to finish the vessel out to the customer’s wishes.
Then there’s the saltwater series which starts with the Mid-Size Ocean group with the Sea Runner Class available in 18’, 20’, and 22’. There was demand from fishing charter captains for a mid-size vessel with an all welded, hard-top cabin which would provide cover for six so Hewes produces the Ocean Pro in a 22’ version that you can also order with a soft top for the warmer climes.
Lastly there is the Large Ocean group that starts with the Alaskan class available in 24’ and 26’ versions that both offer a regular length and mid-length cabin. Options for these include a galley with stove, freshwater sink and a roomy dinette. The next class is the Pacific Cruiser which is available in 22’, 24’ and 26’ versions with the 26’ having the option of carrying 156 gallons of fuel which will pretty much take you anywhere you want to go including tuna fishing offshore from Westport, call me, I’ll go.
The last class is the Pacific Explorer which while being the largest is still trailerable and is available in a 24’ and 26’ version which goes out to 26.42’ with the extended transom for twin 25’ shaft engines in the 240 ET model and 28.16’ in the 260 ET model.
What is impressive is that Hewescraft is currently producing all these models and when Northwest Yachting visited the facility in mid April we were fortunate to get a guided tour from the president of Hewescraft, Dave Hewes and even more impressive is that they are delivering 14 boats a week and doing it with just one shift. They currently employ about 100 folks who are clearly hustling and producing a first class vessel with no compromises. They splash test each and every hull in an onsite pool in the production line after it has been welded to check for leaks before it continues in the production process. They have a team that meticulously preps each vessel for painting before it goes into a heated enclosure where the vessel is primed and painted by one person Hewes got out of California. When you look down the side of the hull of a boat that has been painted in one of the dark colors, it is perfect, which is a real testament to their manufacturing techniques.
It’s always a treat to visit a well run manufacturing facility and see how manufacturing efficiencies can be developed and applied. Hewescraft continues to grow and expand but never at the cost of quality. They follow the three “R’s” and that will continue to serve them well into the foreseeable future as they continue to challenge themselves to produce the very best vessel of its type at a price point that keeps them more than competitive. The Hewescraft website (www.Hewescraft.com) has more information as well as dealer locator so if you would like to check out this prime example of American ingenuity, they make it very easy.