Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Sept. 30, 2020

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Christensen Shipyards appoints interim president

Yacht builder still faces legal battles stemming from financial troubles

By , Columbian Business Editor

The owners of Christensen Shipyards in Vancouver have appointed a new interim president of the struggling yacht building company, which remains embroiled in legal battles stemming from its financial crash last year under its previous ownership.

The hiring of Jim Gilbert, founding editor-in-chief and former president of ShowBoats International magazine, was announced by the shipyard’s chairman, Henry Luken, who heads a media empire based in Chattanooga, Tenn. Luken has been a shareholder of the shipyard, at 4400 S.E. Columbia Way, since the mid-1990s.

A news release said that Gilbert was hired by Luken and the company’s other major shareholder, who was not identified.

“I’ve known Jim for many years both as a friend and as a business partner,” Luken said in the news release. “He’s a creative, highly knowledgeable and deeply respected member of the large yacht community, an experienced manager and someone who shares our vision of taking Christensen to the next level of success.”

According to the news release, Luken was a shareholder in ShowMedia LLC, the holding company for ShowBoats International, when Gilbert and other shareholders sold the magazine in 2004. Since selling the magazine, Gilbert has spent his time writing and “providing strategic services for a small group of selected clients through his company, ViewPoint Consulting.” the news release said.

“I was upset last year to learn of Christensen’s financial turmoil, which was not due to a lack of quality or perceived value of the yard’s production, but simply a matter of poor management,” Gilbert said in a statement. He said Luken and his partner want to lay the groundwork “for turning Christensen into the most progressive, innovative, and owner-friendly yacht builder in the world.”

Christensen said it has four yachts, at lengths of 160 to 164 feet, under construction. It said several of them “are available for purchase.”

The company struggled and at times shut down operations last year after it became evident early in the year that it was unable to pay bills from contractors or cover employee payroll. Christensen went into receivership in the spring. A Clark County Superior Court judge in June approved the sale of all of the company’s $5.5 million in assets to WIT Washington, a limited liability company overseen by Luken.

Luken said last fall that he was preparing to file a $20 million lawsuit as part of the receivership process. He said then that the company had failed to provide him with accurate financial reports and that he still did not have access to company books and records now tied up in the receivership process. At that time, he said the shipyard was in full operation with 103 workers,