Where they are, How they’re doing

Published on April 13th, 2020

Bill Goggins

by Mark Pillsbury, Cruising World
As the coronavirus continues to change and reshape the world as we know it, Cruising World is reaching out to contributors, our partners in the marine industry, and other sailors to get their take on where they are and how they’re doing.

We’re asking five questions to each of them, and in this installment, we’re checking in on Bill Goggins, CEO of Harken.

1. How is Harken weathering the coronavirus crisis, is the factory open, are products shipping, is Pewaukee, Wisconsin, a good place to be right now?

Harken is always a good place to be and a great place to call home. Why now in particular? We have a community that is closely looking out for each other.

Harken is fully operational in the USA and classified as an “essential business.” That allows us to stay open because we have a lot of manufacturing focused on critical components for the national power grid, defense and healthcare. You didn’t know we did more than just sailing, did you!

We have a production model where we’re running two fully segregated shifts with early and late teams to prepare for the occasion if a teammate would test positive and we could continue to operate.

Harken’s diversification strategy—we’ve been working on it since 2010—will help us weather downturns in sailing demand, which can come in times like this. We have developed industrial applications in rope access and rescue and commercial marine, arborist and other categories. And we’ve bought some companies in those spaces to augment our design and hardware building with training, consulting and distribution.

Another example of why Pewaukee is a great place to be: My lifelong friend and E Scow partner Bill Lieber is an ER doctor working on the COVID response team at our local hospital. (You can see Bill (Lieber) trimming jib up front in the photo of our E Scow.) He and his amazing wife, Deb, have four kids and they line up with the four Goggins kids in age. They spend all summer together growing up on the waters of Pewaukee Lake.

Last week, Bill tested positive. Never have I seen more emotional and practical support than from Pewaukee, our home lake community, and never have I seen more heroism than I have from him and his wife.

Our boat name and family team name is Ohana, which means “extended family.” In times like these, having our extended Ohana family brings hope, strength and laughter and love—tools for survival.

Bill has inspired me to repurpose our canvas department to go into the short-term surgical mask business pro-bono. We are partnering with the local hospital network and Allen Edmonds Shoe Company to produce hundreds of thousands of masks to be donated to our local healthcare provider heroes. We have access to surgical mask material that is being donated; it’s a remarkable project. Full report.

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