A French firm now owns Four Winns and other boat brands based in Cadillac. The Beneteau Group, which touts itself as the world's number one yacht builder, is the new employer of 500 people who build the fiberglas boats on Cadillac's north side.
Employees at Rec Boat Holdings learned the news Tuesday. While the town is keeping its fingers crossed that the plant will stay put, company officials say there are reasons to be optimistic.
Julie Johnson of Rec Boat Holdings said the new company is keeping the local management team. It's also family owned and devoted to boat building.
"Group Beneteau is a very well known boat company that's been in business for 130 years," Johnson said. "The lady that runs the company now, her grandfather was the one that started it."
Johnson said there are other reasons to be optimistic.
"They love the facility here," she says, "the fact that we have room to expand. You know we're not at capacity today."
While there's always concern when the local boat factory is sold, the last time it turned out for the better. When Platinum Equity bought the business in 2010, it saved the company from bankruptcy. Jobs at the plant have doubled since then, partly by moving work here from Minnesota.
Local residents assume that the growth will continue. Not only is that because it's a large employer, it's also a good part of Cadillac's identity, says Mayor Carla Filkins.
"A lot of people identify Cadillac by saying that's where Four Winns boats are built," she says.