Woodies Restorations recently added another feather to their hat as one of their boat restoration projects recently won the 2012 International Antique and Classic Boat Show award for Best Classic Chris Craft, according to owner Paul Cundiff.
The show was held in Branson, Missouri on Table Rock Lake and had 119 boats from all over the United States and abroad. “The competition was very stiff and we brought home the trophy,” he said of the 1967 Chris Craft Super Sport named Time Machine. “Probably half the boats that were there were Chris Craft because they were the largest builder of mahogany speedboats and the other half was all the other brands.”
Some of the boats that the restored Chris Craft competed against were antique, which runs from 1919 to 1943, and some were classic, which goes from 1944 to 1975.
Woodies, located on Lakeway Drive in Russell Springs in a 10,000 square foot facility, restores or preserves customers' wooden antique or classic boats to a level that “meets or exceeds their expectations and educates their customer about the advantages and responsibilities of owning, restoring and enjoying an antique or classic boat.” The name comes from the wooden boats they work on, which are called “woodies.”
They also provide products, such as tools, restoration supplies, accessories, and advice on how to use them to the do-it-yourself-er. The win at the recent boat show reaffirms the dedication and hard work that Cundiff and his contracted workers put into their projects each day.
“What we do here is we make brand new boats out of old boats,” he said as he pointed out a 1957 Mac Bay* from Bloomington, Indiana that was recently restored. “While we're on Earth we're stewards of things that we own and most of what we own is disposable but these boats aren't. They can be rebuilt over and over again.”
Cundiff, who has been in operation full-time for about eight years after years abroad as an engineer for Kingsford Manufacturing, said most people find out about their business from word of mouth or the Internet where their popular website, www.woodiesrestorations.com, brings in customers from around the world. “We've been to Belize three times and to California twice,” he said. “We take care of Francis Ford Coppola's son Roman's boats.” Cundiff said he worked on one of Coppola's boats in California for nearly four months about two years ago and will return there this winter to finish up some projects. Coppola even led him on a tour of his Napa Valley home and the family's nearby winery -- just one of the perks of being in the wooden boat restoration business. “We've got boats coming from Texas; we've got one out here that's ready to go to Texas,” he said. “We've got a lady coming in from Virginia this weekend to pick up her boat.” Cundiff, who has lived in Russell County for 10 years with his wife, Martenia, a Russell County native, goes all through the boat, depending on what the customers want.
“We do the engine work, the trailer work, the refinish work, the woodwork, the upholstery, the canvas … they can basically come here and get everything done in one spot,” he said. “There's not very many of us left in the U.S.; it is a very specialized craft to do what we do. Some people look at these boats and they can't figure out how they can possibly be put back to life. Well, human minds dreamed them up and human hands put them together.”
The nearest wooden boat restoration business to Woodies is in Cincinnati. After initially working on boats at a slow pace at his home, the pace quickly picked up and Cundiff outgrew his shop at his home, forcing him to find a larger facility, which led to the move to Lakeway Drive. “It went from a part-time hobby to a full-time, full-bore job,” he said. “We are hoping to get some grants to work with (from) either the local school system or KCTCS to offer classes on boat building and restoration.”
Woodies also offers family builds where they host at least two family boat building weekends each year, one in either January or February and one in July or August. Families construct original, but smaller scale, electric-powered wooden boats beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday. They usually finish up around 3 p.m. on Sunday. The next family build is slated for the second weekend in January. “We've actually built 18 of these,” Cundiff said.
A deposit of $1495 is required to reserve your place, with the balance payable two weeks prior to the event, with the total cost (at the time of this article) being $2,995 plus six percent sales tax.
“We've had families from New Jersey, Maine, Wisconsin, Texas, and then we've had some from Nashville, Lexington, and Danville,” he said.
Cundiff said he and his son, Taylor Cundiff, who also works at the shop, are also in preliminary talks with some television producers from New York City about the possibility of a reality show on their restoration business. Some finished products of Woodies Restorations will be on display this weekend at the vintage boat show at State Dock. The show will be Saturday, Sept. 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with free admission, and Cundiff invited everyone to come out and view these spectacular classic and antique boats on the water of Lake Cumberland this weekend.