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Palmer Johnson Leaving Memories as It Heads to Europe

by Kurt Hoehne

The news of Palmer Johnson Yachts shutting their doors in Door County and moving to Europe didn’t come as much of a surprise, but it certainly had more of an impact on me than expected. The business reasoning was sound, things change and the strong dollar meant that PJ was becoming less competitive in the European market. I’m sure there are many reasons.


The 57′ Charisma was built by PJ, rebuilt in Seattle and now is actively raced by a Spanish owner.

The personal impact had to do with memories. Stopping at the PJ Yard was an adventure in the 1960s and 70s. Gleaming aluminum racing sailboats came out of ‘lil old Wisconsin and went on to win around the world. PJ, Swan and Sparkman and Stephens worked together to create some of the finest yachts ever made. The PJ/Swan 43-footer still makes my knees weak.

And when I started my editing career at Sailing Magazine, they were still advertising on the back cover every issue.

One of PJ's cutting edge superyachts.

One of PJ’s cutting edge superyachts.

Now, a 43-meter yacht is nowhere near PJ’s largest motor yacht, and sailing yachts are decades removed. The 100 or so lost jobs will be only a little blow to a healthy northeast Wisconsin economy.

But going through the Sturgeon Bay Canal, if I ever again get the opportunity, will be a lot different. Instead of looking at what’s next I’ll be stuck reminiscing on the Golden Era of PJs. Because no matter how spectacular a Superyacht PJ ultimately makes, nothing will compare to what I saw with my 10 year old’s eyes.




Here’s a report from maritimeprofessional.com, written by  Aiswarya Lakshmi:


Luxury yacht manufacturer Palmer Johnson Yachts is closing its production facilities in Sturgeon Bay because of dwindling sales and competition from overseas.

In a plant closing notice filed Wednesday with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, the company said sales had fallen and offshore competition had escalated.
The closures will result in the loss of about 100 jobs. Palmer Johnson said it will cooperate with the Department of Workforce Development to help employees find other jobs.
The shutdown will take place in phases starting about Oct. 31. “We are disappointed and saddened by this business closing, and yet realize that there is no alternative,” the company said.
Production is being moved to the Netherlands under a deal that the company said would give it a better competitive advantage.
It also says its SuperSport range yacht has received a lot of interest. The company claims the move to Europe will give it a better competitive advantage in the industry.
The relocation is part of Palmer Johnson’s plan to increase production of a SuperSport series of yachts, the company confirmed Thursday.
Yacht building is an important niche industry in northeast Wisconsin, where the brands include Palmer Johnson, Carver, Marquis, Burger, Cruisers and Rampage. The industry also supports dozens of suppliers, including companies in the Milwaukee area.
Palmer Johnson Yachts Inc. owner Timur Mohamed stated “Our operation and employment levels have continued to diminish, sales have diminished, offshore competitive pressures have escalated, and as a result this action becomes a necessity. We are disappointed and saddened by this business closing and yet realize that there is no alternative.”

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