All posts by Karen


Ongoing Commitment to Service: Cabinetry Dept. Machine Upgrade.

Thunderbolt Marine is proud to announce that we will be adding a 3-axis CNC  (computer numerical control) router to our inventory in mid-January.  The industrial sized CNC router that is manufactured in Cartersville, right here in Georgia,  has a 5’ x 10’ bed with an 8” vertical travel.   Furthermore,  the CNC router is equipped with a probe for digital scanning and copy routing.

With our new router,  we expect to reduce time producing a vast variety of items such as panel cutting, molding making, jigs, plugs, molds and acrylic nesting making.   However,  this wonderful machine has many more possibilities that our innovative craftsmen and customers alike,  are sure to explore.

This tool has long been on our wish list and we believe that combined with our existing skilled crafts, it will bring us up to date with today’s demands.


Employee Spotlight: Ed Erskine – Machine Foreman

Ed has been working in the Machine/Mechanics Dept., for the last 8 years since he joined TMI.  After 2 tours in Vietnam as a UHI helicopter pilot, Ed, a native of New Jersey, continued his army career as an Instructor at Hunter AAF.   Upon leaving the army, he enrolled at Armstrong State to major in Economics.   For summer work,  he joined the  Savannah Machine & Foundry Company shipyard because of his interest with “all things boating.”   Working his way up the system through various departments and in a variety of jobs, he became a Ship Supervisor but has owned many titles in his 45 years within the industry.  Married with 1 child and several pets, Ed owns both a sailboat and a center console which he will put to good use during his retirement in June 2017. We will be very sorry to see Ed go but envy his opportunity to enjoy all the things he most appreciates when he has time on his hands – like finishing a custom made model boat which hasn’t (apparently) seen daylight since the late 80’s!   He enjoys every aspect of the ship repair business, evidenced by his work ethics and is no more partial to one particular task than another.  On behalf of everyone here at TMI and his loyal customer base, we wish him well for the fun years ahead and we thank him for his services to our country.

Crystal Clear Cleaning Company – Bill Smith

Crystal Bill as he is known, says the boating industry in Thunderbolt believe it or not, makes up only about 5% of his business but it is without question, the most challenging and the most interesting.   Starting the business from scratch in 1989 primarily as a window cleaning business, he diversified to include carpet cleaning from previous experience in the industry with the absolute knowledge he could improve upon the local services.  Essentially a family run enterprise, Bill and his 5 employees are experts in their field and have received the Angie’s List Super Service Award for the past 5 consecutive  years.

Bill and his team work exceptionally hard.  They are trustworthy and dependable, and they are particularly experienced in the art of practicing yacht etiquette with all the little nuances each individual’s vessel requires.  Skilled in every level of steam/dry cleaning, Bill will do everything he can to ensure your satisfaction as he takes pride in his work and the name he has built up over 25 years.  In his free time, Bill spends his moments with family – his wife and 2 children but is passionate about old car restoration.  His current project is a 1981 Z28 Camaro.



TMI Support – Performance Power Systems

Most people know Dave Orr. He is recognized at boat shows and in boatyards all along the Eastern Seaboard, but primarily here in Georgia where his business has been based since 1995. Originally from Jacksonville, Dave recognized a need to establish a locally based marine propulsion and gen-set service industry to support the well-established commercial and rapidly growing private sector in and around our city of Savannah. Having built a strong reputation at our facility over many years, PPS and TMI enjoy a great relationship with our mutual customers based on our combined expertise, quality, knowledge, efficiency and dedication to the marine industry.
Performance Power also have offices in Pompano and Stuart, both located in Florida.  Dave is particularly proud to share the spotlight with Eric and Tony; 2 loyal employees who have helped him build his industry for over 20 years.


Ongoing Commitment to Service: Finishing Shop Expansion

This summer, TMI embarked upon major refurbishment of an existing building located in the north end of the yard near the front gate.  Initially used to house smaller boats for painting, and then more recently for mast maintenance/finishing, this one story building has undergone a refit to include an enclosed preparation area with a separate “clean” room for brushing and/or polishing and a mezzanine area intended for office space and storage, with some work space for items like removed handrails.  In addition, a 32 ft long downdraft committed heat controlled finishing booth for paint, wood finishes and varnishing has been installed.  Expected to be finished later this Autumn, our Finishing Dept., will be able to accommodate a large number of interior items removed from vessels to efficiently complete tasks in a dedicated dust-free environment.


Employee Spotlight – Tony Heyden & Ryan Giles (Hydraulics Dept).

When TMI first opened its doors in October 2003, hydraulic tasks fell under the umbrella of the Machine Dept., until it was obvious there was a need for a separate department dedicated entirely to the demands for these specialized skills and services.

Our Foreman – Tony Heyden, once an engineer with the British Royal Navy and a previous employee of Quantam Marine Engineering, has headed up the department since its infancy.  Tony is still authorized by Quantam and Naiad along with other brands to perform services on their products here.  He is very ably supported by Ryan Giles, a native Savannahian whose background is in aviation but who has been with us for the last 4 years having spent some years in the machine shop before switching trades.

Both are passionate about troubleshooting, breaking down and rebuilding stabilizer systems.  Despite being a highly efficient team of two, the demand for hydraulic services is so great, that they are actively recruiting new team members for the department.  Tony, Ryan and TMI have in their words “recognized the need to expand their shop and diversify their department so that they can make a bigger impact on their customers’ demands for quality control, knowledge of all systems and greater attention to smaller details”.

Tony is fast approaching retirement.  He is very much looking forward to it and has been actively planning his future for some years now.  He will be greatly missed by all of us here at TMI as he will undoubtedly by his many loyal customers, but we are confident that he has imparted a great deal of knowledge onto Ryan.  We wish Tony well for a long, healthy and happy retirement.

River Services Photo

Local Industry Support

River Services / River Supply

John Lyons, founding owner of River Services opened the doors in 1975 within the GA Port Authority as a small industrial supply store servicing and repairing life raft  in conjunction with fire safety equipment needs.  So successful was he, that John’s son Hal, expanded the operation in 1994 by relocating and adding a retail store (River Supply) in Thunderbolt, only 1/2 a mile from our facility and within easy access for the boating community.

The company grew exponentially, so Hal took on vendors such as Blue Seas, Awlgrip & Interlux, Pettit, Zodiac, Stearns and Perko. Hal’s brother Stephen took on the reins for the servicing aspect within the company which continued to thrive becoming FAA, DOT, Lloyds and Coastguard approved.

Working closely with Thunderbolt Marine Inc., River Supply and River Services have been instrumental in providing several services for yard tasks and operations, while delivering expert advice, guidance and vendor support.  This close relationship has made it possible for River Supply / River Services to provide quality products at competitive prices allowing for discounts to TMI and their customers.

We see it as a win-win!