The new owner of Checkmate Powerboats is vowing to revive the legacy brand and moving production of the boats to Washington, North Carolina.
Pete Caldwell, owner of Caldwell Marine Designs, purchased the assets in February from Global Marine Power Inc., which owns Hustler Powerboats. Global Marine’s Joe LoGiudice bought Checkmate Powerboats about seven years ago.
Caldwell has been in the marine industry for more than 20 years with experience at Fountain Powerboats and Correct Craft. His company, Caldwell Marine Design, has contracts to build boats for Sea Cat Boats and other boat companies in the region. Checkmate Powerboats will fit naturally into the production line.
“I contract build, so this is a good way for us to get our own brand in case a contract runs out or they go with a different person to build or they take their stuff in-house,” Caldwell said. “It gives us something to build for ourselves as well.”
The boats were being built in Bucyrus, Ohio and production will move to Caldwell’s facility in North Carolina. Upholstery work will continue in Bucyrus, Caldwell said.
For Caldwell, one of his first priorities is to freshen a few of the models by removing wood and upgrading the hardware. Caldwell said they want to improve the fit and finish while offering an affordable sport boat for the experienced powerboater.
“They’ve always been built well, they’ve always had good quality but we’re going to try to use some newer techniques and newer practices and newer materials that hasn’t been used in a Checkmate before,” Caldwell said.
Checkmate offers 17 models but Caldwell plans to focus on just a few models the first year including the 2400 BRX, 260 Convincor and MX-2600. Checkmate reportedly built about a dozen boats last year.
Caldwell said that Checkmate is planning to campaign a Super Vee Lite for the 2021 offshore racing season, returning to the company’s roots.
“Checkmate was founded on racing back in the ’60s,” Caldwell said. “That’s how the whole thing started. We’re looking at possibly taking this back to the race circuit again and maybe putting Checkmate in the winner’s circle again.”
Global Marine Power decided to sell Checkmate after the rent on the Bucyrus production facility tripled, said Paul LoGiudice, director of sales and marketing for Hustler Powerboats. Rather than shuttering the brand, which offers powerboats under 30 feet, LoGiudice wanted to find an owner that would nurture and grow the 57-year-old brand.
“I have come to a decision that for Checkmate to advance forward in the industry, the company needs a new owner with a fresh, new approach,” said Joe LoGiudice, former owner of Checkmate Powerboats, in a press release. “After speaking to many people regarding the purchase of Checkmate’s assets, one individual stood out. He has the same work ethics and commitment to the boating industry as the LoGiudice family.”
Caldwell feels there is pent up demand for Checkmate boats and is excited already by the response he’s received from previous and current Checkmate owners. “They got a huge, almost like a cult-like following,” he said. “I’ve been getting text messages and phone calls and emails all throughout the day, every day. ‘Hey man, so glad Checkmate is going to come back around and I’m a longtime owner and want to buy a new boat.’ I mean, it’s crazy the response we’ve been getting.”