In 2005, Jim and Tracey Goettl purchased their first houseboat. Although hopes and dreams of something bigger than a 16 by 68 were often in their thoughts, this was the boat that started it all for them.
Jim grew up with the genes of engineering and did a lot of high-end custom design in different homes. Little did he know then that his skills and experience would be brought to the houseboating industry sooner rather than later.
His first houseboat was designed much more high-end than others: granite tops, a 50-inch pull down plasma TV and a full size galley on the second level. One of the nation's largest builders manufactured and made these designs possible for Jim and Tracey.
Once delivered to Lake Powell in southern Utah, people couldn't get enough of it. Many approached them on a regular basis to see what had been done and to find out how they could have it done to their houseboats. As a result of this attention, the houseboat manufacturer sold about nine similar versions in the million-dollar price range. Despite the market and the economy, it was evident that people wanted high-end boats and they were willing to pay for them.
Spark Of Inspiration
In February of 2008, Jim and Tracey were invited to be part of an advisory meeting in which ideas of their own were beginning to spark. They were hearing that people were looking for more yacht style and design, while still retaining the houseboat feel. Suggestions were given to them in which they should private label a boat that they could market across the country. In this process they began to realize how underdeveloped houseboat manufacturing was and how they could bring new, current technology to the table. The company that constructed the newest boat for the Goettls finished just in time before being forced to shut down because of the economy. The houseboat contained full aluminum side walls, recessed floors, tall ceilings, custom trailer and more features that weren't as common as other boats on the lake.
"The economy in Arizona took a hit, but people still wanted the boats," recalls Jim.
At this point, they were ready to embark on their own journey and start new dreams as a family, with help from kids Alexis and Steven. People warned them that this wasn't the time or the industry to invest in, but they continued to move forward. A big part of the economy in Phoenix, Ariz., is construction and property values had plummeted, but regardless, they went against the odds and continued on.
Open For Business
The dream began in December of 2009, quickly followed by the manufacturing in January a month later. Bravada Yachts is currently running at maximum capacity in a 65,000 square-foot plant. Although they deliver to the east coast, most deliveries take place in Nevada, Arizona, Texas and California, which is interesting considering that there are more weight and size limitations in the West.
The majority of boats being built today consist of three-level minimums with some four-level tops. "The average price in boats is at about the million dollar mark and still today, as more people see these types of boats, the more attention is given to us in building them," says Jim. "We currently have nine boats in the plant that will be delivered by mid-May and the greater part of this bulk is the GT or Limited Series that will be going to Lake Powell."
For Today's Market
Bravada Yachts thrives on building high-end boats and that's been the key to their early success."There is no need to try and chase the old cheese," says Jim. "There is no reason to go back to the old styles in houseboats because we feel it takes high-end products to work and sell in today's market."
Adds his wife Tracey, "Heading into our third year, Bravada Yachts is currently operating debt-free. Last year we sold around 23 boats and are hoping to be at 40 plus boats in 2015."
Jim and Tracey, along with their two children, have all been a contributing factor in making all of this possible. In the past, Tracey worked with the accounting aspect of Jim's business's but as of lately, has been given the responsibility to focus more on the interior design portion of Bravada Yachts. She is handling the interior design sessions with clients and working on packages for the boats. Alexis, daughter of Jim and Tracey, currently studies at Northern Arizona University in accounting but plans to head back to the Bravada industry to work after graduation. Their son Steven, who is a senior in high school, also has the engineering skills in which his father has proven to be successful and will continue to work on these skills at NAU studying engineering.
With efforts of the family, skills and experience, and a dream that many didn't believe could be accomplished, the Goettls have found success in doing what they love.