Michigan Fiberglass Company

On March 15, 1960, an agreement between John T. Parsons of the Parsons Corporation and Lawrence Meyering of the Michigan Fiberglass Company (MFC) of Zeeland, Michigan, was reached to have MFC produce the 15-ft Caribbean and 17-ft Arrowhead from their four model year line. These two models were identical to the 1959 model line in overall length (OAL) but Parsons advertising and brochures used the length around the gunnel or rubrail for all models the 1960 model year, except the 15-ft Biscayne.  Why? I do not know other than they were eager to show consumers that some changes had been made to the boat line just like every other boat and automobile company to drive new sales. I have measured my 1959 and 1960 boats and found no difference in overall lengths from year to year.

Ad for 1960 17' Arrowhead-RD 02-1960 p. 96

Company officials had studied the 1959 model year earnings on the new line and found that it would be cheaper to outsource the production of the Lake ‘n Sea boat line to MFC and focus their energies on improvements and design changes for the 1961 model line. John T. Parsons wrote a memo to Robert Stamm on March 15, 1960 directing Stamm to make arrangements to ship five sets of 15-ft molds and five sets of 17-ft molds to Michigan Fiberglass Company of Zeeland, Michigan, without an exact address listed. The actual boat building plant was actually located on Howard Avenue in nearby Holland, Michigan. All tooling necessary for the manufacture of boats was included except upholstery, wooden parts and transom plates which Parsons provided. MFC furnished weekly production schedules to Parsons.

Michigan Fiberglass Company Women Workers Applying Fiberglass Cloth to Lake 'n Sea boat ca. 1960
Female workers adding the first layer of fiberglass roving and resin over gel coat in a mold at the Michigan Fiberglass Company plant in Holland, Michigan, ca. 1960.

Michigan Fiberglass Company was started by Lawrence Valentine Meyering in 1960 in a rented warehouse at 471 Howard Avenue. After the molds arrived, a crew of 35-50 people began the process of building the 15-ft Caribbean and 17-ft Arrowhead models using a detailed procedures manual provided by Parsons Corporation. Hull numbers beginning with 0475 1000 or 0575 1000 and after were made at MFC according to Parsons Corporation records. John Schutten was representative for Chemitron, the building owner, and remembered the Michigan Fiberglass Company employees not being able to provide the same quality of boat making as the Parsons staff when it came to proper fiberglass boat construction. Some of the boats were repaired and many were ruined when separated from the mold due to bad releasing agents and stacked up outside the building awaiting disposal. The idea of saving money through outsourcing did not work for the parent company.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This 1959 14-ft Caribbean Custom (hull #0475 1000) was the first hull made at the Michigan Fiberglass Company plant.

In December 1960, the Parsons Corporation announced that it was suspending the manufacture of the boat line for the 1961 model year to allow its engineers and designers time to create new designs and manufacturing techniques for the 1962 model year. They never made another Lake ‘n Sea boat and were out of the boat building business by 1963.

2 thoughts on “Michigan Fiberglass Company

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  1. If you come across another one, I am interested. I grew up in tc, went to school with parson’s and goodland’s kids. I hired John parsons as a consultant when he was in his eighties, and still brilliant.
    Thank you
    Fred Sorensen
    Fsorense@miller-creek.com

    Like

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