Tartan Yachts has a New Owner

Seattle Yachts International acquires the 60-year old boat manufacturer.
Tartan 395
The Tartan 395 during Boat of the Year testing on Chesapeake Bay. Jon Whittle

Peter Whiting, Managing Partner, announced that Seattle Yachts International, is continuing its expansion and vertical integration with the recent acquisition of famed 60-year-old boat manufacturing operation, Tartan-Legacy.

Seattle Yachts has formed a wholly-owned subsidiary, Marine Manufacturing Group LLC (MMG) to purchase the assets of Tartan Legacy Yachts, a manufacturing operation that produces Tartan Sailing Yachts, Legacy Downeast Yachts, and AMP brand carbon fiber masts and spars.

Whiting explained that Seattle Yachts has been a dealer for both Tartan and Legacy yachts for several years and had a number of boats in the Tartan Legacy production pipeline when it became evident the Ohio-based manufacturer was experiencing financial difficulties.


“Look, it’s no secret that Tartan-Legacy had fallen onto some hard times of late and was struggling despite having a healthy order book and some nineteen boats in process on the production floor,” said Whiting.

“We could see that, with some needed recapitalization and the infusion of some heavy-duty boat building management talent, we could restore the brands to their historically strong positions in the market,” he continued “We also felt that would ultimately be to the benefit of everyone, including current and future customers, other Tartan-Legacy dealers, and, of course, ourselves, who had significant investments at stake, not to mention the 45 some people who work in the operation.”

Whiting explained further that when the urgency of the situation became clear, he retained well-known marine industry consultant and former president and CEO of Palmer Johnson Yachts, Phil Friedman, to help evaluate what might be done and, later, to consult in the acquisition.


Friedman, a long-time friend and marine business associate of Whiting’s, described the whirlwind of evaluation and due diligence activities that followed.

“To an outsider with little experience in the recreational marine industry, the speed at which this process moved might seem astounding,” Friedman said. “But in situations like this, accelerated decisions are the norm, not the exception.”

“The fact is, buying and owning a boat manufacturing operation is not for the faint of heart,” Friedman said. “Nor is it something for gentlemen hobbyists or bean-counters in pinstriped suits. It takes talent, hands-on experience in the industry, guts, and a fair measure of tolerance for risk.”


In turn, Whiting said that he was pleased to have Friedman available to help with the reorganization and relaunch of the Tartan Legacy operation because in addition to marine business management experience Friedman also has in-depth background in the construction of both sailing and luxury motor yachts 10- to 50-meter range.

Whiting also pointed out that he and Friedman are being joined on the MMG management team by long-time yacht production pro, Bill Macnab, who spent a couple of decades building boats and yachts in Asia at firms like McConaghy, Prout, Tri-Con, and Allegro — and who, before that, worked for many years at Westbay Sonship in British Columbia, Canada.

“Our main goal at Tartan-Legacy is, in the short term, to improve processes and through-put of the operation, while maintaining the high quality of construction, fit, and finish for which these brands have been known,” Macnab said.


Tim Jackett, Tartan-Legacy’s perennial in-house designer and product development manager will round out the team going forward. “Tim represents the best of what makes the Tartan and Legacy yachts what they are today,” Whiting said. “He brings to the mix a genuine wealth of historical knowledge, solid design sense, and the appetite for constant improvement and innovation.”

The Tartan-Legacy manufacturing operation is being moved to a new 52,000-square-foot facility in Painesville, Ohio, about five miles from its current location. Although only slightly larger than the current facility, the new plant is, according to Macnab, much better laid out for boat building than what Tartan-Legacy has had for the last ten or so years. And the long-term lease at the new facility assures Tartan and Legacy brands will continue to be built in the heartland of America for a long time to come.