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Decades of yacht captain, industry support lead to new building

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The event had the feel of a reunion. On this, its 30th year in business, executives of Quantum Marine gathered last week with captains, customers and employees to ceremoniously break ground on their new international headquarters and manufacturing facility, a 30,000-square-foot building off State Road 84 just west of Ft. Lauderdale.

The new, three-story building is scheduled to open next fall at 3685 S.W. 30th Ave., Ft. Lauderdale (33312).

“On behalf of our entire Quantum family, we are looking forward to being able to call this our new home,” Quantum founder and president John Allen said.

In the summer of 1985, Allen took a risk and opened a 1,000-square-foot shop in Portsmouth, R.I., he told about 200 people assembled for the groundbreaking.

“Alone, I never would have taken that step,” he said, crediting his wife, Sharon, and yacht captains such as Bill Zinser and Andy McKee for their encouragement and support in starting the business.

Soon, Allen was traveling to Ft. Lauderdale to sell his products and services, meeting captains and keeping them as customers as his signature products changed.

“I met John when he first came to Ft. Lauderdale doing laser targeting for shaft alignment,” said Capt. Zinser of M/Y Cakewalk, estimating it must have been in the mid 1980s. “He came down in a van and was doing all this high-tech stuff.”

Quantum founder and owner John Allen, center, is surrounded by some of the veteran captains who supported and encouraged him to start Quantum Marine in 1985. From left, Capt. AJ Anderson, now owner of Wright Maritime Group; Capt. Guy O’Connor; Capt. Andy McKee of M/Y Pyewacket, and Capt. Bill Zinser of M/Y Cakewalk.

Quantum founder and owner John Allen, center, is surrounded by some of the veteran captains who supported and encouraged him to start Quantum Marine in 1985. From left, Capt. AJ Anderson, now owner of Wright Maritime Group; Capt. Guy O’Connor; Capt. Andy McKee of M/Y Pyewacket, and Capt. Bill Zinser of M/Y Cakewalk.

In 2003, a few years after introducing zero-speed stabilization to the industry, Allen moved his company of 17 employees to Ft. Lauderdale. In the past 12 years, it has grown to more than 50 employees. And today, its zero-speed stabilizers are on 85 percent of the world’s superyachts larger than 50m, according to Mark Armstrong, technical sales and marketing manager for the company.

After the groundbreaking, Capt. Zinser and Capt. McKee of the 81-foot Broward M/Y Pyewacket reminisced about Allen and the work he’s done on their vessels over the decades.

“I remember on one boat we had trouble with our passerelle,” Capt. Zinser said. “John sent two guys over and they did it all. It took a year to sort it out; John and his guys took care of it in four days.

“When he was selling cranes, we all bought cranes from him,” he said. “When he worked for NAIAD, we put the first stabilizing system on a boat.”

“We’ve been fans of everything John’s done,” Capt. McKee said. “Everything he did was always good and the best there is.”

Lucy Chabot Reed is editor emeritus of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.

Click to see Feb. 16 video of construction.

Click to see March 23 video of construction.

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