A century of ‘made-in-America quality’

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Recreational boaters are loyal to their vessels and often their engines, but there are plenty of accessories and gear on board that must be just as dependable.

Recreational boaters are loyal to their vessels and often their engines, but there are plenty of accessories and gear on board that must be just as dependable.

“Regardless of which brand of boat you own — whether it’s a sailboat, cruiser, fishing boat, sportboat or even a rowboat — if it was built in the past 60 or 70 years, there’s a good chance that Perko will be on board,” says Fred Perkins, president of the marine accessories manufacturer, which this year celebrates 100 years in business. “Anyone boating for any length of time has touched our products.”

Perko currently makes more than 5,000 parts at their 440,000-square-foot North Miami factory, including navigation lights, searchlights, deck hardware, fishing equipment, locks and latches, and switches. The fifth-generation family-owned business employs 500 people.

“Perko has always been about ‘made-in-America’quality,” Perkins says. “If there is one thing that makes us stand out, that is it.”

In 2003, Perko began gold-plating its navigation light contacts — the first and only to do so, according to Perkins. The factory houses a die-casting system that produces zinc, bronze and aluminum products; a plastics injection molding facility; and it recently added an investment casting process for more refined castings.

Perko is currently developing its second generation of LED navigation lights, promising a product line that is “more extensive, more stylish and less expensive,” Perkins says. On the hardware side, Perko is working with Marinium, a corrosion-resistant marine alloy.

Perkins says the business plans to celebrate the centennial anniversary all year, hosting a huge picnic for all of its employees and sharing at industry trade shows the Perko story that began with the German-schooled Russian immigrant Frederick Persky starting the F. Persky & Company lantern manufacturing company out of his basement. After several name changes, the company became Perko in 1977.

The 100th anniversary catalog includes a company history on CD, and insets of original line drawings of products from catalogs before photography was common. www.perko.com