Frank Denison, the founder of Broward Marine, started his yachting career by buying boats on spec, making the necessary repairs, and then reselling them. In fact, “Mr. D,” as he was known to everyone, is credited with installing the first diesel engines in a yacht in the mid 1930′s, in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
In 1948, while on his honeymoon with his wife, Gertrude, he bought the Ft. Lauderdale shipyard, then known as Dooley’s Dry Dock, and renamed the yard, Broward Marine. This 20-acre facility started with service and repair work, then in 1953, Broward Marine built it’s first custom (wooden) motor yacht, Stormy III, designed by the renowned Naval architect, John Wells.
In 1954, and for the next four years, during the Korean War, Frank Denison landed a large United States Navy contract, with the first flight of four, 144′ wooden Minesweepers, for the Royal Dutch Navy under a NATO contract.
Broward Marine subsequently added seven more AMS-Class, 173′ Minesweepers, for the U.S. Navy. At the height of the Minesweeper program, Broward Marine became the largest private employer in Broward County, Florida.
After the demand for minesweepers dropped, thanks in large part to the conclusion of World War II, Broward Marine started to build custom yachts, including the 95′ Broward Alisa V, which was acknowledged by Time Magazine as the largest private motoryacht built in the United States for thirt years.
It didn’t take Broward Marine long to develop a national reputation for quality and value, building some of the finest yachts for the world’s premiere yachtsmen, such as the Jonathan III, built for Harry Blum, the founder of Jim Beam Distilleries.
In those days, very few yacht builders in the U.S. were capable of consistently building quality boats over 50′. Frank Denison concentrated on building the organization and challenged his customers and associates to “Demand the Finest,” as Broward’s slogan announced, while Gertrude started “Yacht Interiors,” which became famous in its own right for outstanding interiors for Broward Marine.
Mr. D. and the Broward Marine design team developed hull designs that became known and respected for being sea kindly and seaworthy, as well as efficient and beautiful.
The Denison family was proud of the fact that no two Broward yachts were the same, and was often heard saying: “If you build two boats the same, you haven’t learned anything.”
That reputation for quality endured for over 60 years.
In 1999 Broward Marine was sold to Glenn Straub and later to Tom Lewis, and renamed Broward Yachts. Broward Marine is still operational in Dania, Florida and continues to build in aluminum and hire local Floridian tradesmen to build and service megayachts in South Florida.
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We first contacted our yacht broker Alex Wilkes when we were still in California, planning to search for a boat to buy in Florida. We had contacted several boat brokers, but Alex was the first one to respond. Art had checked out several boats on line and told Alex that he wanted to make a trip to Florida to look at them and other boats. Alex quickly learned the type of boat Art was looking for (42 to 50 feet long, twin diesel engines, trawler body) and started lining up other boats and yachts for sale that fit this profile. And so, when Art made his first trip t… [read more]
- Art & Ann Schiller