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Boat builders power to success

Left to right: Business Link personal business adviser Clare Whitney, Jenny Cockwell and Dave CockwellWith the help of Business Link Devon and Cornwall, turnover has increased three-fold in just two years at a Cornish boat building firm.

Cockwells Modern and Classic Boatbuilding, of Ponsharden, Falmouth, has also expanded to employ 11, including three new boatbuilding apprentices.

Cockwells are renowned specialists in the bespoke construction and restoration of wooden yachts, both power and sail. They use time-honoured skills and craftsmanship in tandem with modern techniques, to fulfil their customers' requirements.

Set up in Cornwall by Dave Cockwell in 2002, they were recently supported by Business Link to attend both the London and Southampton Boat Shows which resulted in several orders and on-going enquiries along with excellent networking contacts.

Business Link personal business adviser Clare Whitney also carried out a diagnostic review of the firm and referred in a health and safety specialist.

"As a company committed to growth, producing a high quality product, and developing our employees, we value Business Link's help in supporting our aims," said business manager Jenny Cockwell, the founder's sister.

Cockwells are currently building the new 60ft St Mawes passenger ferry, a Bristol Channel pilot cutter replica and a 37ft classic motor launch tender for a superyacht. As an example of skills diversification, the company also recently constructed impressive teak decking around a customer's private swimming pool in London.

Unusually, the business has an in-house designer, Mash Derrick, and its own sawmill. "From his knowledge and experience of which timber makes the best boats, Dave sources trees while they are still standing ensuring that only the best and most durable materials are used," added Jenny.

"He prefers to choose sustainable woodlands in Cornwall where oak is plentiful but travels to Scotland to select larch. From design to completion of the boat, we control the whole process at every stage."

Sustainability and the environment are key words in the company's vocabulary. Cockwells are looking into planting trees in Cornwall to meet the needs of future generations of boat builders and is also investigating ways in which its waste products such as sawdust and wood parts can be converted and re-used as a renewable energy source.

"It can take 100 years to grow a quality tree and we expect our newly built boats to last at least that long, which we feel makes our business environmentally sound within the industry," concluded Jenny.

Clare Whitney said: "As a rapidly expanding company committed to environmental practices, Cockwells are an ideal candidate to take advantage of support offered by Business Link for growing businesses. As well as providing information and advice on critical issues for day-to-day operations, Business Link can prove vital in helping the business develop a clear strategic plan to create competitive advantage and deliver profitable growth."

Adam Corney, executive director of Marine South West, added: "I am very pleased that Business Link continues to provide such great support to the marine industry in Cornwall. It demonstrates the strength of the partnership between the public sector support and marine companies in the region, as shown by the new Marine Skills Centre in Falmouth where Cockwells are receiving training."

For further information contact Carolyn Daw of The Marketing PR Company on 01566 771863 or email:

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested Business Link Devon and Cornwall through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).


Editor's notes:

Business Link provides a free information and enquiry service via an information gateway on the web and via the telephone on 0845 600 9966 to all businesses and those considering starting a business. Additionally, it provides impartial business advice and support through a network of partner organisations, which it co-ordinates, and a register of independent business practitioners.

Business Link for Devon and Cornwall delivers the national Business Link service to the region under contract from the South West of England Regional Development Agency, which was established by government in 1999 to promote the long-term economic success of the region. It does this by working with others to give people the skills they need, encourage enterprise, improve infrastructure, help communities with regeneration and promote the strengths of the region. Business Link has received Objective One investment (European Regional Development Fund and EAGGF) to help companies improve performance and grow.


Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

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