US equipment firm has more than doubled in size over 15 years

From a sleepy little company with a great reputation for quality products to a growing global concern, Bob’s Machine Shop has more than doubled in size over 15 years, and the export market helped fuel that growth.

When Mark Pelini’s family bought Bob’s Machine Shop in 2003, they acquired three CNC machines, “a makeshift factory building,” and had fewer than 10 people producing three models of hydraulic outboard jack plates.

In 2006, the family moved the business from Ruskin to Tampa, Florida and a 15,000sq ft facility, continuing to grow both their product offerings and markets throughout the US recession; Mark using his mechanical engineering degree on the products, his father, Greg, applying his background in international sales.

Today, as Bob’s is poised to close on a new 40,000sq ft facility, the company boasts 11 CNC machines, 50 employees and some 67 models of jack plates for outboards – from as small as 9.9hp to the massive 627 from Seven Marine – and an array of performance accessories. Bob’s does its own painting, powder coating, hydrographics, and 3D modelling in-house, along with its own quality and endurance testing.

Jack plates use hydraulics or electrical current to raise and lower an outboard motor vertically to maximise performance and while they gained popularity on race boats and bass fishing boats in the 1970s, they have migrated into the offshore saltwater fishing market as engines have gotten larger.

“By being innovative, having a good, quality product and marketing it correctly, we’ve grown substantially over the past 15 years,” Pelini told IBI from his exhibit at METSTRADE.

Pelini said during that time, increasing the company’s exposure at trade shows like IBEX, METSTRADE and Dubai, with an emphasis on international growth, has led to 25% of its sales going to dealers in some 40 countries.

“METSTRADE is a great show for us, we’ve met some suppliers here, over the years, we’ve met some international dealers here,” Pelini said. He believes the overall size of the international market and the emerging middle class throughout Indo-Asia, as example, means more growth potential than the domestic market.

“There’s a lot of water around everywhere,” he added.