Cigarette Racing Team acquires Vectorworks and Doug Wright Designs
In what company president Erik Christiansen described as “a very aggressive product development and manufacturing plan,” the Opa-locka, Florida cigarette racing team purchased Vectorworks – an engineering, tooling and shipbuilding company – and will complete its acquisition of high-performance catamaran hull maker Doug Wright Designs next month. Both companies, like Cigarette, are based in Florida and will remain in their current facilities with current employees.
When the Miami International Boat Show opens tomorrow, this Doug Wright 32-foot catamaran will be among the beauties of the Cigarette exhibit.
The Vectorworks acquisition gives Cigarette the ability, Christiansen explained, to more aggressively pursue new model releases with its own design, engineering and tooling capabilities. Indeed, Vectorworks will become the center for the development and operation of cigarette products.
“Vectorworks has a substantial and talented team of naval engineers that I have worked with for three years,” he said. “We now have the capability to design and engineer new boat designs and updates, as well as support advanced, data-driven, forward-looking engineering activities.”
Since its creation, Vectorworks has designed and produced tools for many motorboat builders. “These activities will continue for key Vectorworks customers,” said Christiansen.
With the acquisition of Vectorworks and Doug Wright Designs, Cigarette Racing Team’s already large presence in the performance boat industry grows even further. Photo courtesy/copyright Cigarette Racing Team.
The son of company owner John Ruiz, Cigarette CEO Alex Ruiz (pictured below) sees the acquisition of Vectorworks as instrumental in helping the company achieve its vision of new designs and more.
“Vectorworks is going to give us the tech firepower we need for our brand and we’re excited about that,” Ruiz said. “With their naval architecture and engineering capabilities, they have the ability to execute. There is a difference between theory and reality. We have lots of ideas and a great manufacturing team. We are excited about this acquisition as it will help bring these ideas to life.
“When we first went to Vectorworks, I pulled my dad aside and said, ‘This is the decision that’s going to take the business to a whole new level,’ and not just for Cigarette. but for the industry as a whole,” he added. “We will first develop technology for our brand that focuses on functionality and security, but we will make this technology available to industry.”
The Vectorworks acquisition actually closed in late 2021. Jeff Gray, the company’s founder in Titusville, Florida, plans to stay with the company for at least a year. (“I can help them accelerate their planned expansion, plus I’m cheap labor,” he joked.) Gray is thrilled with the acquisition, not just in the financial resources that Cigarette brings to the deal, but in the vision of John Ruiz and his management team.
“If you ever had to sell your business to someone, John is the person to sell it to,” he said. “He’s got the vision and he’s got the energy – the guy is a ball of energy. He’s acquired a great team of people at Cigarette with Erik Christiansen and the rest of the band. With this acquisition we probably have the team strongest product development engineering in the marine industry.”
Gray was quick to point out that Vectorworks’ services will always be available to its long-time customers.
“It will be business as usual,” he said. “We have already met our main customers. Everyone will still have access to our Product Development Center.
Now owned by Cigarette, Titusville, Florida, Vectorworks is an industry leader in naval architecture, design and engineering.
According to Christiansen, Cigarette has been eyeing Doug Wright Designs since he joined the company in 2019. John H. Ruiz, the CEO of MSP purchased Cigarette in May 2021 and interest in the deal has picked up.
The acquisition of Doug Wright, which is expected to close at the end of March, gives Cigarette an instant entry into the world of high performance catamarans and offshore powerboat racing. As a builder of high-performance V-bottom and center console sports boats, Cigarette’s options in specific class offshore racing would have taken “much longer to develop”, according to Christiansen.
Performance Boat Center – Osage Beach, Mo., a multi-brand dealership that carries the Cigarette line – also purchased hulls from Doug Wright for his own Wright Performance line of outboard motor catamarans.
“We will continue to supply Doug Wright hulls to Performance Boat Center as long as it is mutually beneficial.” said Christiansen, who brokered the two deals. “When it comes to our own catamarans, Cigarette hasn’t traditionally built catamarans, so we know there will be a learning curve. But we have some very good partners, like the Wrights, who will stay with the company for help us. I think it will be exciting as we enter the world of catamarans.
Doug Wright, Sr., who founded the company, said he is excited about the next chapter of the business, which will remain in Melbourne, Florida.
“The only thing that’s going to change is that we’re going to keep growing – that’s what we hope,” he said. “I have a five-year contract and my son, Doug, Jr., who is much more active in the business than I am, has a 10-year contract.”
Since the beginning of the company, the father-son duo has been owner-operator. Their 32ft has become the race boat of choice in the Super Stock class ranks of offshore powerboat racing.
“I’ve never been employed before – I’ll have to play this one by ear – but I don’t see a problem with that,” Doug Wright, Jr. said, then laughed. “But seriously, I think it will work very well. They have some interesting bigger boats in mind.
Alex Ruiz is also bullish on Cigarette’s purchase of Doug Wright Designs.
“With Doug Wright, we are adding a line of high performance catamarans that we will enhance with the craftsmanship and quality of fit and finish that Cigarette has had for years,” he said. “We are buying a great company and are going to make it even better with the Cigarette touch.”
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