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New Owners Settle in at Sailcraft Service
Sailcraft changes hands, adds to services
July 5, 2018

n May, Sailcraft Service changed hands for the fourth time in it’s 40 plus years of existence on Whittaker Creek. Mike and Jennifer Pawlikowski, recently of New Jersey, sold everything to move south and find a town and boat yard of their own. Sailcraft, and Oriental, fit the bill.

Sailcraft has new owners
Mike and Jen Pawlikowski bought Sailcraft in May.

Mike was in the family business in New Jersey, growing up and eventually managing the family marina. He began scrubbing rental boats and worked his way up earning technical certifications for Yamaha and Mercury outboard motors, becoming slip manager, service manager, and eventually general manager.

“Being part of a family business is never easy,” Jen said, “so we decided we wanted our own.” She began the search. Looking to avoid long winters, they looked south, but not so far south they’d melt. Focusing their attention between Maryland and South Carolina, they found three yards that fit their criteria.

It was Oriental, they said, that led them to choose Sailcraft.

Sailcraft has new owners
Jon at work in the carpentry shed.

“It wasn’t just about the business, we were uprooting our lives.” They were looking for a place to land – one they didn’t have to start from the ground up, one that could be expanded. “We couldn’t have asked for a better situation, moving 500 miles away,” Jen said.

The people of Oriental were welcoming and helpful. “Everbody waves,” said Jen, “it’s not like that back in New Jersey.” Town Manager Diane Miller was patient and helped explain Town ordinances.

Jen and Mike say Lucy and Lou Athey, owners of the Inn at Oriental where the Pawlikowskis lived for several months, were particularly supportive. The Atheys were there to help and to listen as Mike and Jen went through the buying process, dealing with the problems that can crop up when making a major purchase.

The sale went through in May.

Before May, Mike and Jen spent time with the previous owner, Alan Arnfast, learning the business. Since then, they have had a little over a month to settle in. Mike is in the yard daily. Jen splits her time between the offices at Sailcraft and her new job as a fitness instructor at River Dunes.

Sailcraft has new owners
George Midyette is a long-time member of the Sailcraft staff.

When a long-established business changes hands, questions and rumors crop up. One of those questions came in as a call to the office: is Sailcraft getting out of the sailboat repair business? The Pawlikowskis laugh it off. They know why people are asking. Mike’s experience came from a marina and repair yard that was nearly 90% power boats. In the sailing capital of North Carolina, that figure is reversed: sailboats outnumber people.

They have no intention of getting out of the sailboat business. Mike acknowledges he doesn’t have a lot of experience working on sailboats, but he is out on the yard everyday, learning from the experienced staff. Mike and Jen are both impressed with the level of knowledge and skill of their new employees. “The staff here is unbelievable,” she said.

Sailcraft has new owners
Jimmy rolls on bottom paint.

The Pawlikowskis want to take advantage of Mike’s certification as a Mercury Marine Technician and expand the yard’s services. He has plans to include Mercury outboards as part of Sailcraft’s new offerings and wants boaters to know there is now a power boat repair in Oriental.

In addition, they’ve been cleaning up the yard. A red van that was used to store wood planks was donated to the fire department. Abandoned masts are being catalogued and tagged in an attempt to find the previous owners. Fencing is being replaced. Computers are getting an upgrade.

Jen and Mike say the heart of Sailcraft is staying the same: sailboat repair, by experienced staff or by owner. The Pawlikowskis have no plans to get rid of the DIY yard or to change the core of Sailcraft’s services, only to expand their services to all boat owners.

Sailcraft has new owners
Mike at work in the yard.

Posted Thursday July 5, 2018 by Allison DeWeese

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