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Wisconsin now builds some of world's most luxurious vintage-style boats

Posted at 5:15 PM, Oct 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-27 18:15:31-04

GENOA CITY, Wis. — You might be surprised to learn that on a lonely rural Walworth County road next to a cornfield some of the world's most expensive and luxurious vintage-style boats are being built.

These boats range from $250,000 all the way up to $1.5 million. They are hand-made from mahogany and take about 2,000 hours to build. The company that makes them is called Grand Craft in Genoa City.

Grand Craft
It can take six months to a year to build a Grand Craft boat.

"So Grand Craft boats are definitely very high end. This is not your typical purchase," Grant Craft Boats President and CEO Patrick Gallagher said.

He bought the company in February 2021 and in June relocated it from Michigan to Genoa City in Walworth County. The boats they build resemble ones from the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

“I think what they like most about Grand Crafts is that it’s a blend of the vintage styles and lines and designs of the past married with the latest technology and features in a boat,” he said.

Celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Robert Redford, and George Clooney all own a Grand Craft.

“The wonderful thing about wooden boats is actually for most people they really become heirlooms," Gallagher said.

Grand Craft
Some Grand Craft boats can reach up to 50 miles per hour.

If properly taken care of, these boats can last multiple lifetimes thanks to the craftsmanship.

Previously, Grand Craft only produced about one boat a year. But now, Gallagher has big plans for the future.

“We're looking to sell about five this year. We're looking to build and sell about 10 next year, and then year three we predict we’ll be building 20 more.”

Which is an important economic boost for the state. Grand Craft employs people from Wisconsin and gets supplies from Wisconsin companies. Plus, Gallagher decided on the Lake Geneva area because it already has the skilled laborers he needs.

"We also chose it because it is a pool of talent that is exactly what were looking for," he said.

Grand Craft Boat
Everything from the dashboard to the seats replicate a vintage style.

Since there are wealthy homeowners with boats in Lake Geneva, the people who posses the knowledge to make these high end vintage-style boats were already here fixing up boats.

Despite the high price tag, the demand for these boats is there. Gallagher said, some clients want bigger and more expensive boats.

"Many of the customers we work with are asking for even larger boats closer to 36 or 42 feet in length, and those boats are going to well exceed a million some will be close to two million."

So, don’t be fooled by the cornfields. You never know what might be being built right next to one.

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