Rob Smith’s Velocity Marine and Fabrication launches crabbers,
gillnetters and skiffs for the Pacific Northwest fleet
"We can build boats from 25 up to 80 feet,” says Rob Smith of his Velocity Marine and Fabrication in Sedro-Woolley, Wash.
With more than 20 years of aluminum welding and boatbuilding experience under his belt, Smith launched his own shop in 2017 and is now building boats for fishermen from Alaska to California.
The Velocity Marine shop boasts a length of 165 feet, with three 10-ton overhead cranes. “We have a fabrication department, a mechanical department that handles the engines, electronics and hydraulics, and an interior department that does the finish work and carpentry,” Smith says.
Smith was building aluminum bridges back in the late 1990s when All American Marine, in Bellingham, Wash., recruited him to help build aluminum boats. After a year as a welder and 10 years as a supervisor at All American, Smith started Mavrik Marine with a partner in 2009.
He sold his share of the company in 2012 and went back to bridges for a while, but boats have a way of getting into one’s blood.
Smith runs a crew of 15, and while boat builders in other parts of the country have voiced concerns about finding skilled workers, that does not seem to be a problem in the Pacific Northwest.
“There are a couple of trade schools in the area, the Skagit Valley College and the Bellingham Technical College, and they turn out a few welders,” says Smith. “But we do a lot of in-house training. The thing is even if they’re trained, we have to train them our way, and sometimes it’s better just to train them our way from the start.”
According to Smith, there is a high demand for aluminum boats in the Pacific Northwest, which has led to a large pool of skilled workers to draw from. Those people have to live up to the high standards Smith sets for Velocity.
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