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Nichols Brothers names new CEO

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland has a new man at the helm, the shipyard announced today.

John Collins, most recently head of a Birmingham, Ala.-based corporate consulting firm, replaces Len York as chief executive officer of the Freeland company.

A veteran executive in the metals industry, Collins was a top executive at Alumax, one of the world's largest aluminum companies, which was acquired by Alcoa in 1998. He also was an executive with several metals-fabrication firms.

At Nichols Brothers, Collins said he will concentrate on new systems to improve scheduling and yard control and some streamlining of management.

“The people at Nichols Bros know how to build great boats and they have been doing it for 45 years,” Collins said. “We are making changes now that will help them continue their work with fewer hassles, less interference and fewer delays.”

“Nichols Bros is definitely back on its feet after it went through bankruptcy two years ago,” Collins said. “The new systems we are putting into place will help us in the next phase of growing our business.”

York led the company through it's 15-month transition from bankruptcy after Financial woes forced layoffs and the eventual sale of the company to Ice Floe, based in Dallas, Texas. York is considering several new corporate turnaround offers elsewhere, the company said.

Collins and his wife, Judy, have placed their Birmingham house in Birmingham on the market and are house hunting on Whidbey Island, company officials said.

Nichols Brothers builds tug boats, ferries, aluminum vessels, and commercial fishing boats. It is currently building a portion of a 64-car ferry for the state of Washington, and two catamaran ferries for the San Francisco Bay Area in California.

Last week it secured a new contract for another in a series of large tugboats, and along with Todd Pacific Shipyard in Seattle was awarded a contract to build two new state ferries, with an option for a third.

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