Svensen brothers net catch of boat building ordersSVENSEN - Three hours before Nick and Scott Glegor's latest aluminum creation slipped into the water at the John Day boat launch, the brothers were putting the finishing touches on the craft.
The paint was drying, the decals were on, the electronics were in place, but still a gap remained along the bottom of the hull where the two halves needed to be welded together.
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Shortly before the boat launch, Nick Glegor welds the seam along the keel of the boat.It's the hardest part of the welding process, explained Nick Glegor, so he saved it for last. After his brother raised the boat on wooden blocks, he slipped underneath with his welding torch,
sending off a spray of green sparks as he carefully sealed the hull.
The brothers, who started building boats over 20 years ago, constitute the staff of Glegor Marine Construction, one of a handful of businesses that fashion aluminum boats for commercial and sport fishing.
They work in a large, airy shop in the back yard of Nick's Svensen house, with aluminum sheets stacked up against the walls and piles of aluminum shavings on the floor.
Fish and fishing have always been a part of the lives of the Glegor family.
"We were born and raised in a fish hatchery, so we've got fish blood in our veins," he said. The Glegors started building boats for their personal use, so they could be exactly to their specifications. Once they put their creations in the water, fellow fishermen began to take notice.
"We built boats for ourselves to use, but then people came up and said 'Hey I like your boat, where'd you get it?'" said Nick Glegor. Once more people started seeing their crafts, and word got out that they were constructing boats for sale, it turned into a business. He estimated that they have made around 100 commercial and sport fishing boats, and they already have orders lined up for the fall.
"With the economy and stuff, you'd think it would slow down," said Glegor. "But everybody still wants boats." While they focused on commercial fishing boats in the beginning, there is more of a demand now for sport fishing boats.
The boat they launched last week is destined for Craig, Ala., where it will be a charter boat at Sure-Strike Lodge. At 25 feet long, with comfortable bucket seats for four passengers and a built-in fish box to store the day's catch, one of the most important selling points of the boat is its toilet. The other boats in the fleet that it's joining don't have one, which makes them less desirable for fisherwomen who venture out to sea for extended periods.
The Glegors' boat is booked solid for the season.
The boat was designed according to the requirements of Sure-Strike Charter owner Kirk Agnitsch. He sent drawings and sketches of what he wanted to the brothers, along with a stack of photographs of boats that had certain aspects he liked. The Glegors combined these elements to create the plans.
If the owner likes this boat, he will order four more to replace his current fleet - which would make it the largest order the brothers have filled.
This kind of boat building doesn't require many tools, Nick Glegor said. Scott Glegor uses saws to cut out each part from large sheets of aluminum, they bend the pieces into shape with muscle-power and a pulling device, and then Nick Glegor welds the sections together. A smattering of burn scars on his forearms attests show he has done this for a while.
They chose aluminum because it's durable and doesn't require as much upkeep as wood.
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Scott Glegor prepares a small area of the 25 ft. charter boat where he applies a Glegor Marine Construction decal.The brothers are self-taught, although Nick Glegor did take a welding class at Clatsop Community College. It took about three months to build the charter boat en route to Alaska.
The brothers say they make about three boats a year. They could increase production, but they aren't willing to give up their fishing and hunting time. The brothers are commercial fishermen - they are currently fishing for wild salmon in Alaska on another boat they made, and fish local salmon when they're in season.
This combination of occupations seems intuitive.
"The area around here is so oriented around fish, so it's natural for this," said Nick Glegor about the business. "Good boats should come from here, too."
The Glegors are proud of the local connections of their boat, and noted multiple times that they buy their electronics from Jensen Communications and got the engine from Chinook Marine Repair.
After a few tries starting the engine, all was in working order when the Glegors launched the boat, which will be named by its owner. Their mother, sister, Scott's wife, and Scott's son Kevin and Nick's son Andy, both 15, watched as they took it for a test drive before shipping it on a barge from Seattle to Alaska.
"My brothers are just like artists," said Ruthie Lindstrom. "You look at their boats and you can tell who built them."
Admiration for the brothers extends to professional circles as well.
"They're experienced and talented, and they have good workmanship," said Tim Hill of J & H Boatworks, Inc. "Any time you put that together it's a good thing for the customers."