MACLEOD PAPPIDAS | THE DAILY WORLD
The crew at BottomSiders in Hoquiam, from left, Roy Chambers, Leslie Le Goff, Lori Berken and Phill Burress.
Name: Bottomsiders Inc.
Location: 2305 Bay Avenue, Hoquiam
Phone number: (360) 533-5355 or (800) 438-0633
Year established: 1982
Owners: Lori and Scott Berken
Number of employees: Four.
Product: Bottomsiders solves comfort dilemmas through the design and fabrication of innovative vinyl- coated foam products. Using a unique manufacturing process that coats several layers of UV resistant, marine-grade vinyl over closed cell, waterproof foam, we provide custom cushions primarily for boats, including sailboats, power boats, fishing boats and mega yachts. All of our products are made-to-order.
Target Market: Our niche market is cockpit cushions for sailboats and powerboats. Teak and fiberglass seats are unforgiving at the least and downright uncomfortable at the worst. We have more than 2,000 patterns for various boats and also work from customer-provided patterns. Our cushions are completely waterproof and provide support and comfort to make days or weeks of cruising on the water more enjoyable. We also offer standard cushion sizes that work great as sporting event seat cushions and we also make medical procedure table pads.
Special Comments: In addition to individual boat owners, Bottomsiders have been used by several major boat manufacturers, including Hunter Marine in Florida, Hallberg Rassy in Sweden, Discovery Yachts in the UK, Tartan Marine in Ohio, Christiansen Yachts in Portland, Gig Harbor Boatworks, Schooner Creek in Portland and Modutech Marine in Tacoma, just to mention a few. Our land-based ventures have included projects for Boeing, YMCA of Grays Harbor and Woodland Park Zoo. We are currently working on developing a product for the Smithsonian Institute. Here’s a little bit of history that Daily World readers might appreciate. One day after purchasing the company, located on Bainbridge Island in 1999, I was going through some pictures and found a clipping from your paper showing a catamaran being launched by Shaw Boats in Hoquiam. The boat was S/V Trinity, which now plies the emerald waters of Maui on snorkel tours. She apparently had Bottomsiders on board when launched.
Something that might surprise: Our products are 100 percent American made from raw materials to fabrication and shipped worldwide. We recently made rowing seat cushions for a group of men from Seattle, (see www.oarnorthwest.com), who are rowing in a 26-foot boat across the Atlantic from Senegal to Miami. In 2006, we provided similar cushions to the same group on their competitive row from New York to Portsmouth, England. Also rowing this month across the Atlantic in another competition, a Frenchman who will also be sitting day in, day out on his Bottomsiders.
Competition: We are one of two companies in the nation making this type of product for this market. We pride ourselves on attention to detail and strive to meet customer needs by providing them with great value in a consistent, timely manner.
Impetus for entering this business: Scott’s parents, Tom and Barbara Berken, were some of Bottomsiders’ first customers back in the mid 1980s. They purchased a set of cushions before setting out on their two-year sailing voyage through Central America and up the eastern U.S. coastline. We became co-owners in the boat once they returned from their trip in 1989 and used the cushions extensively with two small boys on board. In 1999 we learned that the company was for sale. With the boys growing and entering school, we thought it an exciting time to get involved with a unique company making great products, while still allowing us enough time to raise a family.