Homer to show off local services at Anchorage boat show

Homer marine trades will be very well represented by local companies at the upcoming 2023 Anchorage Boat show Feb. 17-19 at the Dena’ina Center.

“Homer’s participation at the show is a pretty impressive experience,” Eric Engebretsen with Homer’s Bay Weld Boats said. “Over the last couple of years the Anchorage boat show has had more contributions from Homer than Anchorage.”

Engebretsen has been attending the event for years. He said he realized as they were telling boat show attendees about their boats they were also sharing many of the other services vendors in Homer can provide.

Homer clearly has needs for marine trades but both Engebretsen and Nomar’s Kate Mitchell explain, customers from Anchorage and other parts of the state are very important, too.

Going to Anchorage to share Kenai Peninsula products is a useful part of advertising and marketing. Mitchell estimates that Homer gear takes up almost 50% of the entire Anchorage show.

For the Anchorage show, Bay Weld will be showing three recreational boats in the 25-40 foot range.

People looking at boats are typically looking to travel with them from Anchorage to Whittier, Seward or Homer.

Other Homer contributors, who typically supply 70% of the gear on a Bay Weld boat, will include: AC/DC Electric, In Demand Marine, Desperate Marine, South Central Radar, Kokopelli Trailers, NOMAR, Whaley Boats, Daigle Marine, Salmon Sisters, Kachemak Gear Shed, Lower Peninsula Power Sports, All Seasons Honda and FNBA SEATOW.

The Port of Homer and Homer Chamber of Commerce will also have booths on display.

All of the smaller vendors are positioned around the boats to corral patrons.

Engebretsen doesn’t keep track of the exact number of people they speak to but says, “I feel like we talk to at least 1,000 people. It’s a lot. You get good at sifting through all the questions and we’re up there looking for just a couple of serious buyers, but you never know who will show up.

“Some people come back year after year and some will eventually be a customer. Besides the cooperative effort in promoting Homer, the biggest value for us is really the consistency of being there for business.”

Bay Weld, founded by Allen Engbretsen, has been a business in Homer for 49 years and typically builds about 15 boats each year of all different sizes — from 20 feet to 80 feet. Eric has been involved for 22 years. It is one of many businesses and organizations in Homer nearing a 50-year anniversary mark with a second generation operation. Nomar is in a similar position.

A busy operation, Bay Weld has about 48 employees. Boats are constructed for a variety of customers. Some are currently being worked for the Forest Service and Alaska State Troopers.

Another vessel is going down to Southeast Alaska as a whale-watching vessel. One of the boats going to Anchorage, the Yolo, a skiff, is commissioned for the Homer Chamber of Commerce’s raffle. The raffle will be held in September 2023 unless all tickets are sold sooner.

Homer’s Bruce Friend with Skyline Sales will also have three models on display at the show. The company website explains the benefits of the industrial high-density polyethylene construction material used for the Whaly Boat models.

“We believe our technology designed boat is a better alternative than fiberglass, aluminum, and inflatable boats providing more safety features, a longer life, better performance offering more control for rescue teams, work crews and enthusiasts,” the site says.

Mitchell, who has been involved with the show since its inception, said Anchorage represents Homer’s largest customer base.

Emilie Springer can be reached at emilie.springer@homernews.com.

“The number of people who bring their boats down for maintenance from Homer businesses is huge,” she said.

The Homer Marine Trades Association started as a committee with Homer’s Chamber of Commerce in 1994 and has been organized as a business since 2011.

Mitchell said the association aims to promote marine trade businesses and availability in Homer. “We want to make sure the community recognizes that the marine industry is huge part of the city’s sustainable economics here, whether it’s the fishing fleet, the recreational fleet, the charter fleet, the government agencies,” she said.

“Having a harbor that supports those boats is critical for the owners. We’re especially supportive of the harbor expansion project and have been behind that since conversations started in 2004.”

More information can be found on their website at https://homermarinetrades.com/.