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Smooth Operator

Syd Young on to building his DreamBoats By Colin Anderson | Photo courtesy of Dream Boats Inc.

Dream Boats

At 78 years old, most of Sydney “Syd” Young’s peers are comfortably retired. Syd, however, isn’t so interested in that and is instead building the company that he’s always dreamed of. Syd’s father Stanley founded StanCraft boats in Lakeside, Montana, in 1933. An icon in the wooden boat industry, not just in the Northwest but across the globe, Syd can recall the early days and his introduction to the industry.

“When I was 9 years old, I was taught how to do ‘wood dough,’ which is what is used over screw holes on the bottom of a boat. One day I was playing around on the top of a 34-foot boat my dad was building, and my dad stopped me and said, ‘You need to pay attention,’” Syd recalled. “From that day as a 9-year-old, I did. I went every day to the boat shop and learned the trade from all the different employees who were skilled in every aspect of boat building. I built my first boat, almost completely by myself with just a little help from my uncle Merlin, at age 14.”

Syd would spend some time in the Air Force before returning to Montana and eventually purchasing the business from his father in 1970. Economic conditions and a new luxury tax around 1980 slowed the high-end boat industry, and Syd ended up closing the doors to StanCraft. A move to Post Falls in 1984, and with the encouragement of his wife Julie, Syd decided to restart StanCraft. Within just a few years, Syd would go from refurbishing old boats to designing some of the highest caliber boats around.

He would eventually sell StanCraft to his daughter and son-in-law in 2008, but Syd’s love of design and desire to put in a solid day’s work has never wavered.

“I’m still pushing the envelope. Having something that’s pleasing to the eye is important, but it all starts at the bottom of the boat,” stated Syd.

This is where Syd Young hopes to continue to stand out with his new venture: DreamBoats Inc. Design continues to be Syd’s favorite aspect of the boat building industry, and with more than 60 years’ experience, he’s hell-bent on making the smoothest riding boats in the world.

Syd has been awarded several times for his hull designs, which he’s spent his life perfecting. Each design is unique, having to balance the length of the boat with engine power, weight and capacity. There’s not much in the way of testing the design until the boat is complete and takes on its first chop on the water. “I’m always improving them, but there was an 8-year period in the ‘90s where we really dialed it in, developed new lines, and really the world’s most perfect boat bottom,” he said.

DreamBoats Inc. is currently run out of several shops on Syd’s Post Falls property. Alongside longtime mechanic and friend Terry, as well as a few other experienced builders, the company is currently making just a couple boats per year. Syd also continues to restore older wooden boats. He has several projects going including a 50s Chris-Craft in which the original engine was just recently located some 25 years later, and a stunning 30-plus foot 1917 Faye & Bowen that will be an absolute eye-catcher once refurbishing is complete. While he will continue to refurbish, and in some cases improve the ride of vintage boats, Syd hopes to add another five to six people to his team and focus on building a handful of custom DreamBoats each year.

“I’ve had 35 people working under me before; this time I don’t’ want to be big, I just want to be real good,” he said.

Syd is in the process of reacquiring the original StanCraft operations shop located on Seltice Way in Post Falls. It will have all the space he needs to expand DreamBoats Inc. as he’s envisioned it.

While older boats are beautiful to look at, many have a very rough ride due to the design of their hull. Some new high-end wooden boats have implemented the latest technology, bells and whistles, and offer a more comfy ride. For Syd, it’s all about making a standout design, a comfortable cockpit, but most importantly the smoothest ride possible. “I’d rather take my boats out on a rough day on the lake any day. We will be the nicest riding boats available, and I will put my boats up against anything in the world,” he said.

While Syd does plan to do more travel in the coming years, his focus remains on the craft in which he’s dedicated his life. Retirement is probably a word he won’t ever use. “The running joke in the family is: ‘Is this the last boat?’ The one I tip over working on will probably be the last boat for me,” he laughed.

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