Family-owned boat shop stays afloat

Latham Marine still operating after 40 years

SUNRISE, Fla. - Many think the yachting industry appeals to the one percent, but according to Marine Industries Association of South Florida, recreational boating supports the 99 percent, which is small businesses.

Whether it was speed boats or fishing boats, we saw crowds flock to the Miami International Boat Show, willing to shell out.

Behind some of what powers these vessels is a family-owned, Fort Lauderdale business in operation for 40 years.

"We started out doing steering for boats going 80 mph,  now we are doing boats for over 200 mph," said Kathy Latham, the owner of Latham Marine.

Some of the parts manufactured here are used for the military and homeland security patrol boats. They can't say exactly what military parts are made at Latham Marine because it's top secret.

"When you're running after people and you are trying to secure the borders, they want to get there. They don't want to break. I'm proud to say they came to us," said Latham.

It's all big business in South Florida. According to the Marine Industries Association of South Florida we saw an 8.9 billion dollar impact in 2010 despite output decreasing by 34 percent since 2005. 

"Big downsize," said Latham, "But what goes down has to go back up."

Although there has been a downturn in the recreational boating industry, according to MIASF, the industry employs more than 100,000 with a payroll of $3.1 billion in the tri-counties.

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