Stardust Cruisers is the oldest continually operating houseboat company in the industry and their expertise in this business is starting to get the credit it deserves. In February, Terry Aff, Bruce Chesnut and Bill Jasper, all co-owners of Stardust Cruisers, were invited to attend the "Recognition of Manufacturing Success in Rural America" event at the White House in the Eisenhower Executive Office.
USDA/Rural Development picked 46 rural manufacturing from 30 states to applaud for their efforts in running a successful manufacturing business that has made a positive contribution to the economy and job sustainability in their own community. Featured speakers at the rural manufacturing celebration were Alan Krueger, chairman of the president's council of economic advisers; Jason Miller, special assistant to the president for manufacturing policy; and Doug McKalip, senior policy advisor for Rural Affairs at the White House Domestic Policy Council.
Stardust was picked for this elite group based on their contribution to the University of Kentucky's Houseboat to Energy Efficient Residences (HBEER) initiative.
"While building houseboats is and will always be our primary business, we were able to diversify and apply what we know about houseboats to making extremely energy-efficient modular homes for low income families," said Aff. "These homes will cost under $100,000 and have an estimated energy costs to be about $1.65 per day."
Stardust has 56 full-time employees who are committed to their vision of producing high-quality houseboats and six who are dedicated to the HBEER project. Stardust Cruisers was a perfect fit for the project because the company has improved the energy efficiency of its houseboats and is one of the few houseboat manufacturers exporting new products. "It was a great honor to receive such recognition," said Aff.
In addition to receiving their award in Washington D.C., Stardust Cruisers has recently been spotlighted on the Travel Channel. The Aff family's houseboat, Aff-ter Hours, was featured on Extreme Houseboats.
"Terry and I have raised our children on houseboats," said Shelly Aff. "We have built three new boats, with each one designed more and more to fit our unique boating needs." Their experience in the industry plus their own personal luxurious houseboat made them perfect candidates in the eyes of the Travel Channel producers. For their show, the Travel Channel was seeking the biggest and the best in the houseboating world and they certainly found it in the Aff-ter Hours custom houseboat.
The segment highlighted the 1600-square-foot houseboat with its nine rooms, a two-tiered deck and a gourmet galley that is perfect for entertaining.
"The Travel Channel was directed to us from a few different sources after they put the word out they were looking for the best houseboats," said Terry. "They filmed for four days to make sure they covered every aspect of the boat."
With all of the unique amenities that Aff-ter Hours offers, there was plenty of footage for the Travel Channel to pick from.
Besides being built for entertaining, Aff-ter Hours was built with energy efficiency in mind.
"We intend to use this boat extensively on the water so energy conservation was very important," said Terry. "We chose diesel power for propulsion and electricity generation, the initial cost was higher but the energy usage is much lower."
Check your local listings to catch the Extreme Houseboat program on the Travel Channel or go to travelchannel.com to watch the show online. For more information on Stardust Cruisers visit www.stardustcruisers.com.