Quickstep Acquires Specialty Boat-Builder

06 April 2006

Quickstep has entered a new manufacturing venture using its Quickstep Process, after reaching agreement to purchase the business of Flatout Boats.

According to Quickstep, the acquisition represents another important step in the commercialisation of its flat panel business and will utilise a high-performance fibreglass-reinforced thermoplastic composite material offering extraordinary impact resistance combined with light weight at very competitive costs.

Designed by boat builder Gavin Ager in 1999, the “Flatout Boat” is believed to be the first “rigid” folding boat available in the world market. The boat utilises new technology incorporating a unique patented geometry which enables the front to bend upward to form the shape of a conventional bow as it is being opened from a flat position.

Currently available in lengths of 3.3m, 3m or 2.4m boat, with the ability to accommodate up to an 8 horsepower outboard motor (depending on the configuration), the entire boat folds down to a 10cm thickness by 62cm width carry-bag size, and can be fully assembled within 3 minutes. It is currently manufactured using 4 premium grade composite panels made using resin infusion, giving it great strength, light weight (about 48kg) and excellent stability on the water.

Subject to completion of due diligence, Quickstep will purchase the business of Flatout Boats, including all associated patents and designs, for a total consideration of $250,000 to be paid in increments over an 18 month period. An initial cash payment of $75,000 will be made on completion of due diligence, with subsequent payments due on completion of milestones up to the 450th boat produced using the Quickstep Process.

Quickstep’s Managing Director, Nick Noble, said the Company intended to significantly expand production of Flatout Boats, initially establishing a commercial manufacturing facility in Perth with a Quickstep QS20TP production machine to produce panels using the thermoplastic composite material.

The application of our patented manufacturing process, with its rapid heat transfer and highly accurate temperature control, delivers light-weight, cost effective thermoplastic composite panels that further enhance this unique product, unlocking significant competitive advantages for Flatout Boats and establishing the basis for a strong new growth business in world markets,” Mr Noble said. “The application of the Quickstep Process to the unique patented Flatout Boat design brings a new manufacturing technology to the business that will enable Flatout Boats to be produced more rapidly and more cost effectively, delivering a significantly enhanced end-product that is stronger and tougher,” he added. “Our initial target is to have a fully-fledged WA-based boat building business in commercial operation during the second half of 2006 at a new facility in Perth,” Mr Noble continued.

“Thereafter, we see a number of exciting growth opportunities for the business worldwide, building on the marketing carried out to date which has focused mainly on the Australian market,” Mr Noble said.

“We expect that this will open up a whole range of new, vertically integrated markets for Quickstep’s flat panel business, including numerous marine, automotive and commercial opportunities,” Mr Noble commented. “The Flatout Boats business is an outstanding example of a ‘middle ground’ application for composites that will benefit from the cost advantages and outstanding strength and weight properties of high-performance thermoplastic composite materials.

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