Made in the Northwest: StanCraft Boats

HAYDEN, Idaho — StanCraft started building wooden boats almost 90 years ago. And while the tools are more advanced now, the construction process hasn’t changed much at all.

“I have had builders that worked in generation one that can attest we’re still building these boats the same way we started building them in 1933,” said general manager Jory Schmeling. “That’s awesome.”

That tradition and quality come at a price, which is why StanCraft’s customers are often big name stars.

“The John Elways, Wayne Gretzkys. There are movie stars in boats,” said Schmeling. “And to see some of these people appreciate your product as much as they do speaks volumes about it.”

Schmeling compares buying a StanCraft to buying a luxury car.

“The boats themselves are built more durable that any boat out there. The ride is absolutely phenomenal,” he explained. “And we’re constantly finding ways to get better, faster, more accurate.”

And StanCraft’s reputation has spread across the globe.

“We’ve sent as far as Dubai. Tenders to 300 foot yachts,” said Schmeling. “We’ve sent smaller ones to New Zealand, to Thailand.”

An incredible amount of work goes into each one of the boats. On average, a StanCraft takes about 5,000 man hours to build.

After a boat is drawn up in the design room, it starts to be built upside down in the framing process.

“That’s called the Whale Stage essentially,” said Schmeling. “When it’s out there, it kind of looks like a beached whale upside down.”

The next stage is the interior build.

“We’re going to be build the boat in its entirety. Every single piece, every cutout, speakers, windshields, glove boxes, storage compartments, everything is built and assembled.”

Then, Schmeling says the boat is taken apart and sent to three different divisions.

“The upholstery is going to go to our upholstery shop. All the interior finish pieces go to the finish shop. And then, the hull of the boat goes into our rigging bay, where they start pulling wire, getting ready to land panels, electrical.”

The whole process takes nine to 12 months from the time it’s ordered to the time it’s delivered.

Last year, StanCraft made 20 boats. Schmeling says owner Robb Bloem’s goal is to one day make 50 a year. And with the way the company is growing, it could happen sooner, rather than later.

“I bet you we’re doing 30-50 boats in the next five years,” said Schmeling. “I bet you we will have expanded five to 10 acres more facility wise.”

But Schmeling says the company’s biggest thrill is just seeing customers happy in their boats.

“You see these people out there having some of the best days of their lives and to know that you hand built that, or were a part of hand building that, is priceless.”

And that’s that StanCraft commitment, which dates all the way back to 1933.