Heavy year for keel maker

Keel maker
Keel maker
One of the many sailboat keels produced by longtime keel maker Broomfield & Son.

With seven employees, the closing of Broomfield & Son, Inc., in Providence, R.I., in March 2020 didn’t make a splash on the business pages. For boat builders, boat owners and repair yards, however, Broomfield’s shutdown was an outsized event. That’s because Broomfield & Son, Inc., makes production keels, custom keels, and does re-surfacing and the replacement of keel bolts for customers nationwide. The company also offers billets (block and custom shapes and sizes), M-blocks, and more, and does repair work.

The small, family-run business, a fourth-generation enterprise in existence for more than 60 years, was forced to close last March due to the pandemic. The firm reopened on July 27 and was able to rehire all seven of their employees who had survived their furloughed months on unemployment benefits.

According to Tim Anderson and his wife Tammy (who co-own the business with Tammy’s sisters), Broomfield struggled through last fall and winter when business was slow. In light of the vaccine program and the potential for a somewhat normal summer boating season, costumers have come back in for keel work, and Broomfield is getting back to what it was this time last year.

Soon after re-opening, Anderson applied for and received money from the Paycheck Protection Program. Their business “could not have made it without the PPP,” he says. Going forward, Tim does not plan to apply for any further government assistance and is optimistic about the future of the company and the industry.

There will be plenty of boatowners happy to see this business running at full speed.

Ben Heselton-Clements

By Ocean Navigator