By Suzuki Marine
The recently completed development of this 20-acre waterfront property includes a 9,037-square-foot main building providing office space, conference rooms, technical/service bays, inside boat storage and other important equipment. Other amenities of the property include additional buildings, a private launch ramp with docks, and a 300-foot protective seawall.
A grand opening event held on May 17 at the site brought together Suzuki staff from its Tampa, Florida corporate headquarters, select dealers and boatbuilding partners, local dignitaries, Suzuki Motor corporation VIPs, and members of the boating press. Among those in attendance were Mr. Shuichi Mishima, executive general manager of marine operations for Suzuki Motor Corp. in Japan; State of Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis; and City of Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki.
Following tours of the facility, attendees had the opportunity to take demonstration rides aboard a variety Suzuki-powered boats and explore this unique property from the water. The fleet of Suzuki demo boats on hand included the SeaPro 259 with twin Suzuki DF140 outboards, which recently completed the Suzuki EcoFuel Run to the Capitol, a 940-mile run by water from Florida to Washington DC for the 2023 American Boating Congress earlier this month to promote new sustainable marine fuels.
“I want to thank Mayor Brudnicki, Bay Economic Development Alliance Chairman Ben Lee, Bay County Commissioner Tommy Hamm, and the many forward-thinking leaders who worked closely with us to bring this project to fruition,” said George “Gus” Blakely, Suzuki Marine Executive Vice President Sales & Service.
“Thanks to hard work and cooperation between Suzuki Marine and government agencies, Panama City will henceforth be known as a leading source of marine industry innovation and an epicenter of new outboard motor development. We recognized early on that this was the ideal location for us to achieve our goals — and while it wasn’t easy — the final result has proved us right. We are thrilled to be here, excited about the future and committed to being the type of corporate citizen that Panama City and the entire state of Florida can be proud of,” added Blakely.
This property was acquired and original plans for the Suzuki Marine Technical Center were announced in March 2020, at the start of what would become an extended Covid-19 pandemic. While this unprecedented world crisis obviously created a wide range of challenges, issues and construction delays, Suzuki Marine kept its eye on the future and continued working to finish all the originally planned elements of the facility.
Even from the early days of construction, the facility was already serving as a working technical center using temporary buildings. Among the products and innovations being endurance tested and evaluated was Suzuki’s innovative Micro Plastic Collecting device, which integrates with the engine’s cooling system to remove micro plastic pollution from the water as the boat is driven. This device is now standard equipment on all variations of Suzuki’s DF115 and DF140 4-stroke outboards, two of its most popular selling models across the U.S. and around the world. This is but one part of Suzuki’s global Clean Ocean Project initiative, which seeks to explore new technologies and activities to clean up coastal pollution, reduce the use of plastics in products, packaging, and business practices, and explore sustainable alternatives. This ongoing commitment will be reflected in activities at Suzuki’s Technical Center.
“Now that our Technical Center is complete and we have added several important staff members and endurance drivers, we can begin to fulfill our ultimate goal to the boating industry, Suzuki dealers and the boating public,” said Blakely.
“We will be working not only with boat builders and our 1,200 dealers across America, but also with the Suzuki factory to create and refine the outboards of the future. Although we’re based in Florida — the boating capitol of the U.S. — we are also a Suzuki Technical Center for the world.”