Owens - History
HISTORY OF THE OWENS YACHT COMPANY
1930 - ANNAPOLIS - BALTIMORE - 1965
Charles Owens, Sr., father of four sons and a daughter, built custom
boats on Spa Creek, in Eastport, Annapolis, Maryland from 1925 to 1930.
When he died in 1933, his young teenagers were left with a small boat
building business and thus began their boat building careers. As boat
orders began to increase after 1936, three of the sons, Charles, Jr.,
Norman and John B. decided to expand and purchased about eight acres on
the Baltimore waterfront where the constructed new plants. It was at
this site that they adopted the new auto industry production control
systems and applied them to boat building techniques.
Their first new thirty foot Owens cruiser model was put on
display in 1937 New York Boat Show. Their business grew rapidly in the
early 1940's as pleasure boats and boating was at its peak before World
War II. All three brothers were good sailors and spent their spare time
racing and winning! It was at this time that they introduced their
first 40 foot sailboat, the Owens Cutter. In 1950 they sold the design
rights to Henry Hinckley in 1950 who went on to build the Cutter for
the next five years. During the War years, they converted the shop to
production boats and built many rescue boats and landing barges. And
when the Korean War erupted the brothers bid and won contracts to build
75 foot minesweepers for the Navy.
They continued to grow and sales were up considerably in
1958-59 when they decided to hire Campbell-Ewald Advertising Agency to
further their promotion and advertising. It was at this time that
Cornelius Shields of Shields & Company, a well-known sailor and
stock broker suggested they offer 20% of their company stock to the
public. It opened on the New York Stock Exchange in 1959 at $8.00 per
share which quickly oversold and the stock price rose to $12 per share.
The Owens Company was probably the only boat company to offer stock on
the open market at this time.
In 1957 the Owens Company discontinued manufacturing wooden
boats of less than 20 feet and began to convert to fiberglass hulls.
During this time their Baltimore facility could produce two 28' boats
per day which cost $8,500 to $12,000 or three 35' boats per week with a
price of $18,000 to $20,000 per boat. At this same time they were also
building their own engines know as Flagship Marine Engines. They were
producing 500 Flagship engines per month for their complete line of
boats, 18' outboards to 35' cruisers and runabouts. During its peak
production years the Owens Company had 500 employees at their Baltimore
By the 1960's the Owens brothers has retired and no longer
took an active part in the business. The Owens Company became a
division of the Brunswick Corporation which operated the business for
ten years before selling the boat building division to Test Concorde
Inc. The division was renamed Concorde Yacht Division - Brunswick
Corp., but still retained the Owens name for the boats. In the early
1970's the Concorde Yacht Division ran into financial difficulties and
liquidated the entire production facility eliminating almost all
historical material from the original Owens Company. The sailboat
cutter plans remain and are located at the Mystic Seaport Museum, in
Owens Yacht Co.
Posted in: 1930s
Sep 1, 2009 - 2:59:44 PM
Sep 1, 2009 - 2:59:44 PM