When Matthew Innes stepped out of his black, old-school classic Ford Cortina bakkie, his broad smile and firm handshake were the first things that impressed me, until we started talking about business. Then I was blown away. Owner of STARBOATS, Matthew Innes, certainly knows a thing or two about building boats which is hardly surprising considering his career in boat building spans many decades.
Born and raised in Knysna, Matthew started building boats when he was just a young man in the 70's working for Thesen & Co at the Thesen Boatyard. He helped build the Albatross II and The Voortrekker yachts which made history in the legendary Cape to Rio yacht race. He also spent many years building wooden trawlers.
Matthew later made the transition from wood to fibreglass construction and opened his own business which he has successfully run for almost twenty years. So ingrained is his knowledge of the art of boat building that he doesn't even make use of plans when he makes a mould for one of his various boat designs.
‘STARBOATS’ manufactures and repairs paddle boats, fishing boats, canoes and pontoons - many examples of which can be seen on the waters throughout the Knysna Estuary. All the boats can be easily transported and trailers can be built on request for the larger models. They have several 'popular' ranges which have, over time, proven to be very successful for both their quality and durability.
Together with a team of skilled employees, Matthew works from a small factory space in Knysna's Industrial Area. He insists there is no fibreglass boat they cannot build. He has recently taken on a partner, Gerry Jenneker, who is assisting him with some of the marketing aspects of the business. He hopes to gradually pass on all his knowledge of fibreglass boat building to Gerry, so that he can take more of a back seat leading up towards retirement.
In order to encourage business growth, they have applied for and hope to receive a small loan from The Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), whose mission it is to develop, support and promote small enterprises throughout the country, ensuring their growth and sustainability.
Matthew has managed to grow in a competitive and sometimes difficult market. He advocates a strong work ethic and strongly believes that if you put the hours, the effort and the passion into your craft, you can only be successful.
For more information visit: www.starboats.co.za
Knysna’s famous breath-taking estuary offers an array of boating activities by various operators, all of which serve to reveal the beauty and showcase the diversity of this vast liquid realm.