Sidney boatbuilder sells in Europe; $1M deal with Slovenia police

Two police vessels built by Sidney’s Titan Boats are on duty in Slovenian waters.

The $1-million contract with the police force is a big boost for the local boat builder as it charts new territory in the European law-enforcement market.

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“We are always going for growth and more government agencies abroad,” says founder John Stanners. “The need is out there for companies that can deal with the technical aspects of what we are doing.”

Since starting the company

20 years ago, Stanners has expanded to 30 employees who manufacture aluminum rigid -hull inflatable boats, designed as heavy-duty workhorses and built for rough seas and heavy winds.

The company operates out of an 11,000-square-foot facility at 2011 Malaview Ave.

Titan boats are custom-built for military, police, coast guard, search and rescue forces and other government agencies, as well as for recreational and commercial customers. The bulk of the orders go to government customers. Their boats are on duty in Canada, the U.S., and the Caribbean. The company is aiming to increase sales and establish servicing links in Europe.

“These boats go out when everyone else is coming in,” said Titan manager Paul Smith.

Jennifer Michell, marketing co-ordinator for the company, added: “You can see a lot of the boats we built literally saving lives.”

Prices for government boats range from $100,000 up to $400,000. Boats are built from 16 to 40 feet long. Some are open while some have cabins or partial enclosures.

Annual sales are running between $4 million to $5 million, Michell said.

In its fabricating area, a computerized water jet cutting table easily slices through quarter-inch-thick aluminum plate used for boat hulls. The company also offers custom aluminum fabricating.

Building boats has always come naturally to Stanners, 57.

“I’ve been a fabricator all my life,” he said. “I’ve always been kind of mechanically inclined.”

Boatbuilding started for Stanners at age 12 in the family home. The company’s early days saw it serve the whale-watching industry, Stanners said.

If you’ve been on a whale-watching trip out of Victoria, you may have been in a Titan vessel.

SpringTide Whale Watching and Eco Tours has been running a 12-passenger open Titan boat since 1998. “She is still in service, pulling yeoman’s duty,” said owner Dan Kukat. “There is no question that it is of world-class quality.”

The 30-foot long vessel is “very well-balanced” and able to handle rough seas, he said. With 500 horsepower behind it, the boat can travel 50 knots, Kukat said.

Family members are heavily involved Titan Boats. Michell is Stanners’ daughter. His son, Jonathan Stanners, works on wiring and electronics for the vessels. His father, Robert Stanners, puts together technical drawings, father-in-law Paul Smith is business manager, nephew Jamie Stanners is rigging-shop foreman, and his cousin, Bob Sears, is the lead painter.

Stopping by a sleek black Raptor Special-Ops vessel in the yard, Michell said the model is popular with enforcement agencies. They are typically 25 to 30 feet long. The starting cost is $220,000.

Titan’s Special-Ops military-type boats are “designed specifically for pursuit, boarding, fast response and extended mission durations,” the company said.

The SuperMAX Special Ops model is billed as “Bigger, Badder, Better.” This is a “fast response vessel that can be readily used to conduct covert surveillance for extended periods, interdiction and boarding, and conduct marine tactical command.”

Titan is among a cluster of manufacturing businesses on the west side of the Patricia Bay Highway on the Saanich Peninsula. The Sidney North Saanich Industrial Group was formed in 2011 to advocate for the sector. Members include Titan, United Engineering, Seastar Chemicals, Nicholson Manufacturing, Schneider Electric, Viking Air, Scott Plastics, Cube Storage, Epicure Selections and AXYS Analytics.

They play a major role in the local economy by generating close to a $1 billion in revenues, $110 million in wages and has more than 2,500 employees, its website states.

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