Glenn “Bud” Grady was a boat-builder. Don White was a businessman and entrepreneur. And both men loved boats. So together they decided to design and build strong coastal Carolina wooden boats “tougher than they had to be.” That business partnership, G&W Boats, soon became Grady-White Boats in Greenville, North Carolina in 1959.
Plank-By-Plank, The Construction Of Grady-White Boats
Using local craftsmen, Grady-White built small recreational boats in the handcrafted tradition of larger Carolina sportfishing boats on the market. These clinker-construction boats, built in the classic style using overlapping planks, was a labor-intensive process that incorporated steam-bent white oak wood frames.
Grady-White first built two wooden lapstrake models - the Pamlico, a 16-foot runabout, and the Hatteras, a 17-foot version. The first of these flared bows, lapstrake-sided, brass nut-and-bolt fastened models were delivered in 1960. They were built tough enough to weather rough coastal waves and conditions.
Through the Years With Grady-White
During the next nine years, the boating industry began to make more fiberglass boats. But Grady and White had not changed from their wood construction process. By 1968, the team talked of selling their company.
At the same time, Eddie Smith wanted to be an entrepreneur and use his interest as a recreational sportsman. With the help of his father, Edward C. (George) Smith, Sr., in the form of financial backing, the 26-year-old Smith decided to try to buy Grady-White Boats. With an education from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, at the University of North Carolina, his father offered to help to buy Grady-White Boats in 1968.
Under new leadership, the business had a resurgence and continued to grow with the help of Wiley Barnes Corbett, initially as executive vice president and general manager. Corbett improved engineering and manufacturing systems and was later named president of Grady-White.
In 1972, Grady-White began construction on a new 50,000 square-foot fiberglass boat manufacturing plant with a price tag of $6 million. Corbett retired in 1993. Growth continued and the company expanded with an additional 70,000-square foot in 2018.
Smith continues to run Grady-White as owner and chief executive officer.
Grady-White Notes and Notables
Grady-White is known for a continuously variable vee SeaV² hull designed by C. Raymond Hunt Associates. The unique hull is engineered with a moderate deadrise at the stern with an increasing deadrise to the bow. The characteristics of less vee at the transom, wide chines, and two strakes make for a stable, smooth ride with exceptional righting force. This design leaves three bow wakes.
Grady-Whites built after 2014 include a monitoring application for use on smart devices. The app includes all owner’s manual information with audio-visual operations for engine startup, shutdown, emergency procedures, alarms, manuals, electrical systems, generator functions, load management, and troubleshooting tips.
The Grady-White company continues to promote maritime education, fisheries conservation, and waterway management.
Grady-White catalogs from the wooden-boat era in the 1960s to today are available online, many with detailed specifications, downloadable on the company’s website.
Patented Technology and Trademarks Are Integral to Grady-Whites
Award-Winning President at Grady-White
Notable Notes and Company Awards For Grady-White
Some of the Top Grady-White Models
Grady-White Center Consoles
Grady-White Coastal Explorer
Grady-White Dual Consoles
Grady-White Express Cabins
Grady-White Walkaround Cabins