THROUGH THE STORM: C&C Fiberglass Components Inc. struggled through the recession. “My phones just stopped ringing,” owner Jose C. Daponte said. But the Bristol company survived in better shape than most, with staffing now back up to 30.
Some of the most successful, early fiberglass sailboats in the world were produced by designers and builders in Rhode Island’s East Bay.
So it’s not a surprise to see companies such as J/Boats Inc. of Newport and C&C Fiberglass Components Inc. of Bristol celebrating another Boat of the Year award last month for a new made-in-Rhode Island sloop.
The latest boat to draw state dignitaries and the marine-industry press to C&C Fiberglass’ Bristol shop floor was the J/70, a 23-foot, in-shore racing sailboat that won this year’s Sailing World magazine best-boat distinction.
Designed by J/Boats and built at C&C Fiberglass, the J/70 is an example of the self-sustaining nautical cluster of yacht-related industries in the East Bay.
Founded by Jose C. Daponte, a long-time shop foreman in East Coast boat-building businesses, C&C Fiberglass makes the hulls for not only J/Boats, but Portsmouth-based Hunt Yachts and two of its own brands, Albin Boats and NorthCoast Boats.
Although the company’s top asset is the knowledge and skill of its founder, a constant, hands-on presence on the shop floor, its future is now linked to other members of the Daponte family who have joined the enterprise as it’s grown.
His wife, Rosa Daponte, handles accounts receivable while a son, Craig Daponte, has become Jose’s right-hand man on the shop floor. Cesar Daponte, another son, has taken over bookkeeping and marketing.
“There is still a lot to be said for a family-run business,” said Cesar Daponte, who has an accounting degree. “I think it is a big value-added to be able say, ‘Here is the CEO’ and shake his hand.”
Founded in 1998 in a 12,000-square-foot Bristol warehouse space, the firm grew through the next decade to a 27,000-square-foot building. In 2006 it built its current 60,000-square-foot facility between Metacom Avenue and the Bristol Golf Club.
Like almost every corner of the recreational boating industry, C&C Fiberglass was rocked by the recession, which brought vessel sales – from yachts to dinghies – to a virtual halt.
For Daponte, that meant about a year of scraping by, starting in 2008, until things started to pick back up toward the end of 2009.