Boating Business Article

The following article appeared in the May 1937 issue of "Boating Business"

Beg Pardon, Hib, But We’re Afraid This is a Success Story

Boating Business Article"If you want to put anything in your magazine about me, just tell the facts.  I don’t want to be played up as the hero of one of these "success stories."

That was the parting shot of Hibbard Hall of the Hall Boat, Lake George, N.Y.  And certainly it is not our intent to bestow "success" upon one who does not wish to be so exploited.   yet, when we go to recount the facts in Hib Hall’s case, we find that, starting in business 9 years ago, he -

Came all the way through the depression without a single "bad" year.
Charges more for service than any of his 11 competitors.  He has no trouble getting his price, and is always busy.
Does 90 percent of his business on credit; and has been "stuck" only once.
Has sold close to 100 Gar Wood boats in his career at Lake George. Last year sold 27 units of various description.

Boating Business ArticleThere is no spectacular success in any of those accomplishments, yet they are straws which point the way to a sound, going business.

Boating Business ArticleHib Hall took over the enterprise in 1928 - it had been established then for 20 years.  In 1933, he rebuilt the entire plant.  It now consists of a main storage shed, a shop, and two smaller boat storage houses.  All of it was designed by Mr. Hall and was erected under his supervision.

Boats stored in he main storage shed are usually taken out of there eight at a time, and run into the shop.   They can be removed in any order desired, as there are overhead cranes operating on steel "I" beams, which makes it possible for one boat to be "leap frogged" over another.

When a block of 8 boats enters the shop, four of them are repaired or given such attention as they may need, and are then run into the painting department. While they are being painted, the remaining four boats are conditioned and made ready for painting.  They enter the painting section just as soon as room can be made for them, by taking out the four boats that have already been re-finished.

At this time, 8 more boats are taken from the main storage shed and run into the shop, and so it goes.

Sliding doors, of Hib Hall’s own manufacture, make it possible to segregate the painting section from the rest of the shop, so that boats may be kept free of dirt and dust while they are being refinished.   These doors are insulated with weather stripping and are run on removable track, placed on the floor.

Several other features of the shop are of interest.  Suspended from the 16-foot ceiling are "I" beams, upon which Yale & Towne hoists are operated, so that it’s possible to pass one boat over another by the same "leap frog" process we have alluded to.  For minor manipulations of the boats, a Walker "Roll-A-Car" jack is used.

A cellar under the main floor contains two Gar Wood oil-fired boilers.  This heating system permits either section, or both sections of the shop, to be heated at will. Also in the cellar are two chargers for charging storage batteries.  Thirty batteries can be put on the line at one time, which is in nearly constant use.  Batteries in the customers’ boats are kept charged throughout the Winter, and from 230 to 240 batteries will be stored during the Winter as part of the Hall's Boat storage facilities.

Boating Business ArticleOn the oposite side of the shop from the main storage shed there is a railroad track for hauling boats out of the lake.   This track is constructed of "I" beams, five feet apart.  This railroad is intended chiefly for runabouts, but it can handle a cruiser up to 32 feet in length. A motor, turning 1,700 revolutions per minute, is geared to a ratio of 100 to one, producing three horsepower.  This gives the hoist a capacity of 10 tons.   Another track, to haul out cruisers, is of approximately 20 tons capacity.

In a total, Mr. Hall has had the benefit of 450 of dock space, extending 50 feet out into the water, and during this past Winter he added 100 more feet.  Right now he is carrying 78 boats in storage in his main shed, which measures 90 by 140 feet, has a concrete floor, and is practically fire-proof. Twenty additional boats are being housed in his other buildings, making practically 100 boats that he stored through the Winter.  They vary in size from runabouts of from 16 to 30 feet, to cruisers of from 24 to 40 feet, and to sailboats which range all the way from 18-foot Knock-abouts to sex-meter sailers.

Hib, by the way, is devoting much of his time to developing the sailboat end of the business.  And his efforts are bearing fruit, as is attested by the fact that last Winter he stored an even dozen sailers, as against two for the Winter of 1935-36.

Lake George is some 200 miles north of New York City, in the heart of the Adirondacks.  This body of water is 36 miles long and is three miles across at its widest point.  Hib Hall’s place is at the southern end of the lake, where the water is one mile wide.  The maximum depth of the lake is 200 feet; in front of Hib’s place it is 22 feet deep.

This is purely a resort section, and the season is only about 60 days long - through July and August.  In order to give his customers 24-hour service, Hib sleeps on the premises at night.   Regular hours for the plant are from eight in the morning to ten-thirty at night.   In the peak of the Summer season, Hib has 10 men on his force.  Through the Winter, he reduces this to four.  These are his "key" employees; they are his highest-priced workers and during the Winter are kept busy varnishing and painting and overhauling motors.

It is something of a tribute to Hib Hall’s treatment of his men, to be able to say that there has been no change in his working force since 1929.

The prices he charges boat owners are as follows:  Labor runs from $1.25 to $1.50 per hour, depending upon the type of work done.  Cabinet work, for example, where a joiner is used, calls for the highest rates.

Winter storage rates for a 24-foot boat, for example, will run $60.  This includes hauling out, draining, cleaning, and taking care of the batteries.  Storage rates on other boats vary from $1 to $3.50 per foot, depending upon their size, length, and type.

Mr. Hall’s lines consist of Gar Wood boats, Gar Wood heating systems, Richardson Cruisers, Scripps and Chrysler motors, Socony gas and oil, Duplex oil, and Exide and Globe batteries.

At Hauge, N.Y., 25 miles north of his main plant, but on the west side of the lake, Hib operates a branch.   This was established in 1932, and here you find the same type of business as is rendered at "headquarters".


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