Matt Nichols takes over again as shipyard CEO

Matt Nichols, former owner of Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, has been named CEO of the company.

Officials at the Freeland shipyard announced the change Friday. The move took effect Wednesday, Jan. 10.

"There needed to be a change," said Lacey Greene, the shipyard's spokeswoman. "The owners felt it needed to be made right away."

Nichols replaces John Collins, the company's chief executive who began in October 2009. Collins was the second CEO to lead Nichols Brothers Boat Builders after the company filed for bankruptcy nearly five years ago and was sold to Ice Floe, based in Dallas, Texas.

"After Matt had run it for so long, they believed he was fit for the position and that his knowledge should be brought back to practice," Greene said.

No other management changes were made.

Calls to Collins and Nichols were not immediately returned Friday morning.

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders is South Whidbey's largest private employer, and more work is expected at the shipyard later this year. Company officials announced in December the firm had received a $17 million contract to help build Washington state's next ferry, an agreement that officials said would mean 100 jobs at the shipyard.

Collins followed Len York as the company's CEO roughly two years ago. York replaced Nichols in the shipyard's top management position in February 2008, and Nichols became the boat builder's managing director for business development.

Nichols last led the company as CEO in late November 2007, as the company was besieged by financial troubles and laid off its entire workforce and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

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