By Mark Edward Nero
Anaheim-based watercraft design, engineering and manufacturing company Willard Marine has acquired the rights to design and manufacture Crystaliner boats, a line of surf and rescue vessels that have been based on the West Coast for nearly six decades.
Crystaliner was founded in Southern California in 1956 by John Norek and they specialized in fiberglass recreational and commercial boats that were particularly popular with lifeguards, harbor patrol, and rescue operations.
Crystaliner is credited with building the molds for the Navy’s first 16 foot fiberglass lifeboat and in 1959, the first fiberglass boat to win the Miami Nassau Race. Although the company closed its doors in 2012, Crystaliners are still being used by law enforcement and lifeguard divisions in California coastal cities, such as Long Beach. It’s estimated that more than 100 boats were sold throughout the company’s history.
Financial terms of the acquisition have yet to be revealed.
“Crystaliner is an iconic brand with a long, reputable history and loyal customer following,” Willard Marine President and CEO Ulrich Gottschling said. “To be more competitive, we must diversify our product portfolio, and this is one of many moves planned over the next two years to grow our business.”
Lewis Page, who served as general manager at Crystaliner for 14 years, and spent 34 years building their boats and tooling said in a statement that Willard Marine is “unequivocally” the best boat builder today to carry on the Crystaliner legacy “of making high-quality, top-performing boats specific to lifeguards and rescue operations.”
“I am proud to collaborate with Willard’s highly skilled and experienced team to produce a new lineage of Crystaliners that first responders can depend upon for many decades,” Page said.