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Finnish marina builder picks St. Petersburg for new headquarters

A Helsinki, Finland-based builder of marinas throughout Europe, Asia and Middle East will open its new North American headquarters in St. Petersburg today.

Marinetek, which had an office in West Palm Beach, plans to bring 50 jobs to St. Petersburg with its new headquarters.

The jobs will include positions in its sales operation, engineering and planning offices in downtown St. Petersburg as well as a packing operation in the city's enterprise zone area, known as Midtown.

"It's everything apart from physical production," said Kent Johansson, president of Marinetek's North American operations and now a resident of Pinellas County. "We're doing everything from St. Petersburg."

The company will launch its new operations during a St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony at its offices in the Plaza Tower, 111 Second Ave. NE.

Incorporated in 1989, Marinetek says it offers concrete, steel, aluminum and timber pontoons, breakwaters, floating housing and marina equipment. The company operates subsidiaries in Latvia, Croatia, Turkey, North America, United Arab Emirates, England and Russia.

The company has developed such projects as Anchor Marinas on the Dubai Palm Jumeirah, the biggest budget marina project in the world which was completed in 2010. In Florida, Marinetek developed the Palm Harbor Marina in West Palm Beach.

Marinetek strengthened its position in the marina industry when it acquired Swedish pontoon manufacturer, Svenska Flytpontoner Ab, in fall 2010. The company is one of the biggest marina equipment manufacturers in Sweden and also enjoys a strong market share in Denmark.

Marinetek executives considered setting up its North American operations elsewhere in Tampa Bay until Mario Farias, chief executive officer and managing director of the Farias Management Group, a St. Petersburg consulting firm, changed their minds.

"They were thinking of moving to Manatee or Hillsborough," Farias said. "We convinced them to move to St. Pete."

With the company's use of the city's enterprise zone, it will gain some assistance with training employees and some sales tax breaks on equipment. But because the firm had an existing operation in West Palm Beach, it will not receive all the potential tax benefits.

"For us to land an international company like that," Farias said, "it's a victory for St. Petersburg."

Ivan Penn can be reached at ipenn@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2332.

Finnish marina builder picks St. Petersburg for new headquarters 05/14/12 [Last modified: Monday, May 14, 2012 7:08pm]
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