The Aberdeen Daily World


Aberdeen Chamber Of Commerce Salutes--

BURCHCRAFT -- Industry Of The Month

DISCUSS HARBOR PRODUCT: Three generations of the Burch family discuss with Lester
(Pinky) O'Day, sales manager, production of Burchcraft boats at the company's North Aberdeen
plant. Left to right are O'Day, Brian Burch, 16, his father, H. E. (Hi) Burch, vice president of Burch--
craft; Mrs. L. P. Burch, treasurer, and L.P. Burch, founder of the firm. Mr. and Mrs. L. P. Burch
are parents of H. E. Burch. In background is company's largest boat model, a 24-foot Continental
cruiser. Senior Burch holds original three-foot model he developed for firm.

(This is is the first of a series designed to give the Aber—
deen Chamber of Commerce's salute to smaller Grays Har—
bor industries. An individual industry will be honored
each month.)

   Helen of Troy had a face which launched a thousand
ships but she was just a piker compared to the Burchcraft
Boat Co., Inc., on the Wishkah riyer at Mitchell and Roose—
velt streets, North Aberdeen.
   Unobtrusive Burchcraft has constructed approximately
25,000 boats, ranging from 12 foot "kickers" to luxurious
24-foot cruisers, in the past 20 years.
   Evolved from the dream, the hobby and an idea of L. P.
(Cap) Burch, founder and president, in the depression 30's,
Burchcraft since has constructed boats which have sailed the
seven seas, thousands of lakes and hundreds of rivers.
   Although it doesn't compare in size, labor force and vol—
ume of product with the area's big plywood, pulp and
lumber mills, Burchcraft quietly fills an important niche
in Grays Harbor's economy. Despite fluctuation from a
low of 7 or 8 employes to 32, as a result of the seasonal
market and economic conditions, Burchcraft has operated
continually since 1939 with an average payroll of nearly
$100,000. And in addition to providing work for a group
of skilled craftsmen, the company, one of the most prolific
builders of small boats on the Pacific coast, uses chiefly
Grays Harbor materials.
   "It's something of which I've always been proud," says
Burch. "We've always used Harbor-made plywood, except
for the hardwood on the decks, and we'd do the same there
if we could get it locally."
   Boats from "Burchcraft, Aberdeen," have spread the
fame of Grays Harbor and its plywood throughout the 12
western states (including Alaska), and have overflowed into

(Continued on Page 9, Col. 5)

Burchcraft Co. First Industry Of The Month

(Continued from Page 1)

other areas as well. During the
war, while Burchcraft built Navy
landing boats and Army dories,
the company's products spread
over the globe.
   Burch, a carpenter and builder,
came to Grays Harbor in 1916 and
went to work for Peterson's ship—
yard, later purchased by Grant
Smith Porter, on the Wishkah
river at the end of B street. After
World war I he went into the con—
tracting business, part of the time
in partnership with Frank John—
son, now of Bremerton. And al—
ways, in his spare time, he "mon—
keyed" around with boats.
   "It always bothered me that it
took eight days to build a 16-foot
boat," said Burch. "I kept think—
ing about it and finally got some
ideas. I tried them out and we cut
the time down to two days. I got
a patent on the idea."
   When the depression of 1929 and
the early 30's kayoed the house
construction business, Burch took
a fling at mining in California.
Things were still tough in Grays
Harbor when he returned, but he
still had a yen to build boats.
   "Dora," he told his wife, "we've
got nothing to lose, we might as
well go into the boat business."
   The first building, a cabinet shop
built in 1927, was turned into a
boat building in 1939. It was 30 by
80 feet and is still a part of the
main plant, now 12 times larger.
   The Burchcraft Boat company
is essentially a family enterprise.
L. P.'s son, H. E. (Hi) Burch is
vice president, Mrs. L. P. Burch is
treasurer and Oren P. Burch, an—
other son, secretary. L e s t e r
(Pinky) O'Day is sales manager.
   Distributors for the firm are in
Portland, Spokane, Los Angeles,
Stockton, Calif., Salt Lake City
and Seattle, which also services
   Company officials know that at
least two 14-foot Burchchrafts,
sold through the Los Angeles dis—
tributor, are plying the waters of
Tahiti, another is in the Philip—
pines and two 16-foot cabin cruis—
ers are in South America. One of
the cruisers is being used on the
Amazon river by missionaries to
carry supplies 100 miles from the
last outpost of civilization to their
An integral part in the contruc—
tion of Burchcraft boats is the
50 by 100-foot steam room in which
hulls, by a patented system, are
formed on jigs through the use of
200-degree steam.
   Although early in its history the
firm concentrated on small boats,
in recent years it has expanded
operations, up to 24-foot cruisers.
Most of these are designed for
outboard power plants although
some are equipped with high-pow—
ered inboard engines.
   The deluxe 24-foot "Continental
24" will sleep four persons on its
upholstered bunks, is equipped
with ice box, toilet, fresh water
tanks, metal framed windshield
and windows and  a "flying
bridge." Other models include a
20-foot family priced cruiser with
many optional luxury facilities,
three models of 18-foot cabin cruis—
ers', flashy runabouts in 18, 16,
14' and 12 foot lengths, some with
windshields and convertible tops
optional or standard equipment
and several sizes of less luxurious
seaworthy fishing boats.
   A unique feature of Burchcraft
boats is the use of longitudinal
oak framing instead of ribs, plus
a molded plywood false bottom
which helps in forming rigidity.
Single piece sides of exterior type
Douglas fir plywood are molded to
the correct contour using 1/4-inch,
5/16-inch and 3/8 inch and 7/16-inch
plywood, thickness depending on
the model. .
   The plant has a nucleus of vet—
eran employes. including Elmer
Granestrom, 16 years with the
firm; Don Austin, 12 years and
Elliott Pearson, 7 years.
   If the senior Burch ever had
doubts about the seaworthiness of
Burchcraft boats they would have
been dispelled by members of a
University of Michigan scientific
expedition which explored the Un—
alaska region of the stormy Aleu—
tian islands chain, using an 18—
foot cruiser loaned by the Burch—
craft company.
   In a feature article, complete
with front page picture, in the
June-July 1955 edition of Sea and
Pacific Motor Boat, an expedition
member told how the "Mummy
Hunter" as the boat was christen—
ed, amazed scientists, fishermen
and natives by safely coming
through several violent storms.
   But then, Burch was not sur—
prised. He knows the strength of
Grays Harbor plywood and the
boats he builds.