ESCANABA – Todd Hurley was making boat trailers when someone he knew happened to ask if he could make a davit for his dinghy. Nothing existed at the time for smaller boats to carry a dinghy. Hurley had to figure out how it might work and designed the equipment for the boat.
“It turned out quite well. He was happy with it,” Hurley said, “so I decided to make another one and thought, well, I’ll just put it on Ebay and see how it’s accepted. Well, I sold one, then I sold two and I sold four and six and eight and here we are. We’re now selling globally.”
They now sell thousands of dinghy davits a year. Hurley expects sales to increase by another 50 percent this year.
“There was never really anything out there like this so we were the first in the industry and had to break ground, set the pricing, things of that sort. We’ve been the leader since,” he said.
It’s a niche market he never expected to get into. It’s led to other products he’s developed including underwater boat lights, a design that he has a patent on.
“One time we were in the British Virgin Islands and noticed that some of the larger yachts had underwater lights. So, I came home and started thinking about the heck could we do that to our boat. I designed a way to attach them to the trim tabs so now they can go up and down so you can direct them instead of having a large hole drilled through the hull of the boat,” said Hurley.
Hurley Marine is one of a few companies in the Upper Peninsula to be named a 2017 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch by Michigan Celebrates Small Business.
Hurley is an inventor by necessity. He said that is just the way people in the Upper Peninsula are.
Hurley Marine and six other U.P. companies will be presented the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch award at a banquet May 4 in Lansing. Independent Machine Company in Escanaba, K&M Industrial in Gladstone, Van Straten Brothers in Baraga, Vollwerth & Baroni Companies in Hancock, Xeratec Corporation in Hancock and Advanced Blending Solutions in Wallace are also receiving the award.