Suzuki Motor of America has started construction on a 20-acre waterfront technical center in Florida to develop, test and refine the company’s products.
The technical center in Panama City, Florida, is the first for the Japanese company, which is refurbishing the building that was previously used for Marine Transportation’s Logistical Headquarters and a Florida State University research facility. The building was damaged by Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 hurricane that swept through the state in 2018.
“We are planning a state-of-the-art Suzuki Marine Technical Center that will help us to develop, test and refine the best possible Suzuki outboard products for today and tomorrow,” said Max Yamamoto, president Suzuki Motor of America Inc., in a press release. “Our goal is to improve people’s lives on the water, and ensure everyday mobility for as many people as possible.”
Longtime Suzuki employee and marine industry veteran David Greenwood was named the general manager for the Suzuki Marine Technical Center USA. Greenwood, who has been with Suzuki for 34 years, will oversee a staff of three to five full-time employees when the technical center opens.
Suzuki plans to use the facility on Florida’s Panhandle to work with U.S.-based boat and accessory manufacturers to develop and improves its products. The Panama City location provides a launch ramp and a large basin for running and test of boats as well as a protected harbor, Suzuki said.
The company partnered with city, county and state officials to acquire the 20-acre property. Suzuki plans improvements to the existing launch ramp, replacing docks lost in the hurricane, refurbishing the buildings and adding additional structures.
Suzuki intends to use the facility for new product launches, testing, and training. Suzuki has more than 1,200 dealers and does business with more than 150 U.S.-based boat companies, who along with engineers from Japan, will be visiting the facility. These activities will contribute to the local economy through increased air travel, hotel stays, restaurant visits, and other assorted expenses associated with business travel.
“This comes at a time when the boating industry is facing unparalleled challenges due to the coronavirus outbreak,” Yamamoto said. “We are confident that our world and our industry will get through this crisis, which is why we are moving forward with this plan for the future.”
Greenwood is looking forward to calling Panama City home after spending years on the road visiting Suzuki customers. “Over the many years, I’ve pushed the factory to make changes—some large and some small—but always with the goal of creating an outboard motor that better meets the needs of boaters and boat builders,” Greenwood said in a press release. “I’ve long been a proponent of creating a technical and testing center here in the U.S. that will help shape a future generation of Suzuki outboard motors. I’m proud that we’ve accomplished this, and equally proud to be named General Manager.”