June 30, 2008 (CARY, NC) – After nine months of negotiating, superyacht designer Ward Setzer, principal of Setzer Design Group in Cary, North Carolina, has signed an agreement with Kingbay Yacht Manufacturing Co. Ltd. in Ningbo, China, to design an ultra-modern, 70’ high-speed production vessel.
He will also consult on the design and layout of a new waterfront marina, production and yacht club facility for Kingbay. The facility will be built specifically for Setzer projects.
Besides style and function, the designs Setzer creates with Kingbay will be informed by “green,” concerns, which means low-emission, efficient power plants, renewable resource woods, recycled upholstery products, solar film strip energy sources, non-toxic piping, and other eco-friendly details.
“This product will be unlike anything ever to come out of China in the marine industry and across multiple categories, and should set the bar quite high for the future,” he said. “Above all else, we love a challenge. So we enter this exciting new chapter in our studio’s history with great anticipation for a successful product launch a year from now. “
The intended market for the Setzer/Kingbay designs will be global with particular emphasis on Dubai, Europe, and within Asia’s populations of new wealth.
Products used to manufacture the vessels will be imported from many countries, including the United States.
“Unlike some industries, the yacht industry is highly driven by acceptable brands,” Setzer said. “Everything needed on yachts of these high levels cannot be produced in China, nor is it Kingbay’s goal to do so.”
The designs are already on the drawing boards of the Setzer studio and the project tooling should begin August 1, 2008.
The Kingbay deal was sealed during Ward Setzer’s recent tour of marine-related manufacturing facilities in China. Traveling over 1500 miles, from cities to small towns, Setzer visited machine shops, injection molders, chemical plants, and upholstery manufacturers.
Along the way, he interviewed Chinese business owners about such issues as labor, housing, health care, fuel and food costs. He made it a point to gain as wide a view as possible of the Chinese economy and specifically how it will relate to the product to be built to the Setzer label.
“The Chinese suffer from economic concerns similar to ours every day, where fuel and food costs are almost the same as ours yet the living wage is far lower. Every newspaper and news cast speaks of environmental concerns and attempts at gaining control of their growth. I hope that by gaining this wider perspective we will be able to design responsibly, allow for conditions at hand, and have our products enter the marketplace as the best that they can be.”
Setzer admits he had been reluctant to re-enter the pleasure yacht construction market in China after less than profitable ventures there in the late ‘90s. “But it all boils down to trying harder, accepting challenges, being open to learn new ways, and not just stick our heads in the sand. In the past, Asian yards as a whole have been known for building boats, not yachts. But that tide is turning and our resolve has been to participate responsibly — all for the better good of the marine industry worldwide.”
Kingbay was founded in 2005 and presently manufactures fiberglass production vessels up to 48 feet in length within its state-of-the art facilities. Kingbay principals have visited major U.S. and European trade shows for the past 18 months, conducting research and interviewing designers such as Setzer.
“We know they ended up with our studio based on our brand and the innovative scope of our past designs,” Setzer said. “The legal use of our label, or brand, was a major part of the negotiations.”
Kingbay is a division of Huadong Electromechanical Manufacturing Company. Huadong is known for its injection molding, appliance manufacturing, and engineering facilities, housed within a ultra-modern, multi-acre campus setting with 1500 employees.
Ningbo is a medium-sized city approximately 100 miles south of Shanghai on the Pacific Ocean where fishing fleets have been established for centuries.