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 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.
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.