Placid Boatworks bounces back from fire
LAKE PLACID – Placid Boatworks is back in business, three months after a fire gutted its building, destroying its inventory of 30 boats and all of its canoe molds.
The small canoe-making business is working out of the former Hunter Designs building on Cascade Road in Lake Placid until its building on Station Street can be rebuilt, which likely won’t be this summer. This structure was destroyed by a fire on Jan. 25. The building is owned by Placid Boatworks owner Joe Moore and his wife, Jan Wailing.
Moore said that his crew has made six 12-foot SpitFires and just finished its first 15-foot RapidFire Monday. The models are the two most popular sellers, Moore said. Both are high-end, lightweight solo boats.
Prior to the fire, Placid Boatworks made five models of canoes: four solo boats and one tandem. They plan to build at least four of those models again but are working their way back, one at a time.
For the staff, it’s been a busy three months as the business gets back on its feet.
Moore said he’s had to work at least part of every day of the week, generally putting in 60-hour weeks. His small crew has put in similarly long hours, though they aren’t working seven days a week.
“The late spring hasn’t hurt us this year,” Moore said. “Normally, I’d be biting my fingernails on a spring like this, but it’s actually given us time to get things done and get us back in production. We’re actually fortunate this year that it’s a late spring.”
The process of rebuilding started with reconstructing canoe molds for the boats. As part of the process of rebuilding the molds, the crew needed old versions of the canoes. Moore got those by asking the public for old boats.
“We had tens of people for each model offer their boat up,” Moore said. “Of course, we’ll build a new boat for them out of the new mold, so they’ll get a brand-new boat out of the deal.”
The crew started out by building a SpitFire mold, finishing the first boat on Easter, which fell on March 31 this year. They started making RapidFires this week.
“We’re getting over the hump now; that’s the nice part,” Moore said. “We’re actually getting to the point where we’re starting to do something. And it’s taken us months to get to that point, you know, where we’re actually not just building the tools, where we’re actually building the product.”
Remarkably, Moore said he expects to be able to manufacture canoes at the same weekly pace as other years. The business makes about 100 to 125 canoes per year.
“The goal now is (three) a week right on through the rest of the year,” Moore said.
Moore said that after the fire, people in the community asked him if he would consider taking the insurance money and getting out of the business. That never crossed his mind, he said.
Instead, Placid Boatworks is already back in business. The showroom with paddlesport gear is being assembled, the shop is open to the public, and Moore is taking orders.
“Everyone has been really supportive and really great about offering help,” Moore said. “It’s been extremely nice and gratifying to have that support. It kind of gives you the impetus on those days when you don’t feel like going and doing it.”
Contact Mike Lynch at 518-891-2600 ext. 28 or firstname.lastname@example.org.