Made in Chattanooga: McGlaughlin Manufacturing
By: Latricia Thomas
A Chattanooga company is helping the sailing standouts of tomorrow, learn to navigate the open water. McGlaughlin Manufacturing is the only maker of the Optimus sailboat in the United States. Newschannel 9's Latricia Thomas takes us inside their factory to show us how the boat for pint-sized sailors is made.
For the past 30 years, the youngest racers setting sail have been hitting the water in a piece of Chattanooga craftsmanship. President Mike Sherman says, "They are very surprised normally, that's the last thing they expect to find in Chattanooga, Tennessee is a sailboat manufacturer."
Inside McGlaughlin Manufacturing, the Optimis Sailboat is their prime product.
"Some of the very best sailors in the world that sail in the America's Cup," Sherman says. "Their beginnings were in this boat."
The small, single-handed craft that teaches kids to captain their own vessel is cast in a mirror-image mold. "The first thing we do is spray the molds surface, which has been waxed, with a paint called gel coat," Sherman says. Then comes the first layer of fiberglass. "We will allow this to harden. The boats in these molds over here are actually ready to come out."
Once it's out of the frame, it's on to the grinding room, where shaving the perfect shape and size is standard. Sherman says, "What that does is it puts the competitive edge in the racer itself and not the boat." After a quick sand, it's time to put all the pieces together.
That's where Danny English steps up to the bow. "I'm the boat builder," he says. "I actually build 99% of all the boats." Boats that put Chattanooga on the marine map, where Made in the USA means more than just a stamp on the stern. "We actually import some boats from China," Sherman says. "And they just aren't as good as ours."
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