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Jayhawk Boats

Tempar, Inc.

Parsons, Kansas

History by Charlie McGill, from TheClassicBoathouse.com (No longer online).

In 1951 I was an Industrial Engineer at Chance Vaught Aircraft in Grand Prairie, Texas, builders of the F4U airplane, made famous by Pappy Boyington in WW II. My neighbor in Grand Prairie was Ed Bishop who was partner with R. W. McDonnell in Lone Star Boat Manufacturing Company. I had done a couple of engineering tasks for Lone Star on a part time basis when Ed indicated an interest in building what were referred to at that time as "plastic" boats. He asked if I would be interested in pursuing the idea.

I began reading, gathering information, and experimenting with polyester resins. On my vacation that year from Chance Vaught I went to Sewaren, New Jersey and met with Dr. Herbert Muscat of Marco Chemicals who provided me with much information on reinforced plastics. Upon returning to Grand Prairie, I built a model boat based upon the design of the Lone Star Commander, the company's most popular 14' aluminum boat. After seeing the completed boat McDonnell and Bishop offered me a position with the company. I became Chief Engineer and later was made Vice President for Technical Services.

After a false start using a vacuum method for wetting fiberglass, a method advocated by Muscat, we built open molds and started laying up the fiberglass by hand accomplishing the wetting of the glass by use of brushes and rollers. In the early days one of the problems was drainage of resin from the wetted fiberglass on vertical surfaces. That problem was solved by Dr. Muscat who produced a thixotropic resin which stayed in place on a vertical surface. For a while it was available only from Marco Chemicals until it was discovered that thixotropicity could be achieved by the addition of a material called Cabosil. Soon other resin manufacturers were producing thixotropic resins.

I joined the Society of the Plastic Industry and became a member of the Boat Committee. I was asked to give a paper on the molding of reinforced plastics at the 1953 annual meeting, but I declined, because I felt I did not have enough experience at the time. At the 1954 Annual meeting of SPI at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago, I presented a paper entitled "Contact Molding" which was well received and was reprinted in several magazines.

It was during this period that R. W. McDonnell sold his interest in Lone Star to Insurance Companies of Texas (ICT), managed by Ben Jack Cage. Ed Bishop retained 20% ownership and became President of the company. ICT and Bishop later sold out to Charles Sammons who owned several businesses. Ed Bishop remained President for a short time until Sammons brought in his own management people.

My responsibilities increased after the fiberglass boat production began. I was responsible for purchasing, production control, production scheduling, engineering, etc. for all operations of the company. It was necessary to get help. In 1952 Bill Raschke had been employed to supervise the fiberglass operation. Raschke left after a year or so to start his own boat building operation (Glass Magic Boats) in Ft. Worth, Texas. After Raschke's departure I advertised for a person to take over the fiberglass boat production. A young man who was employed, I believe, by an aircraft company in Oklahoma answered the ad and flew his own airplane to Grand Prairie, Texas for an interview. His name was Bob Hammond. Hammond was hired to supervise the fiberglass operation. That turned out to a fortunate move in two respects: it introduced Hammond to the boat building business, and Lone Star got a man who turned out to be one of the best boat designers of the time. He immediately began to design runabout boats, and the company got away from the common shape of its fiberglass boats. It was a real turnaround for a volume small boat manufacturer. Hammond later gained fame and fortune as a founder and designer of Glastron boats.

After he had been at Lone Star a while Bob came to me with a drawing of a runabout boat that looked like no boat I had ever seen. It had a rounded bow and headlights. Bob asked if the company would sell him the materials to build the boat and allow him to do it on his own time in the plant. I had no authority to authorize such a thing, but I recommended the idea to the executive vice president, Al Ewing. When Al saw the drawing, he not only authorized it, but he offered to furnish materials if Bob would build two boats; one for himself and one for the company. Since only two boats were to be built, only minimum tooling was required.

When Dick Verrill, Vice President for Sales, saw the boat, which had been named Meteor, he decided to take it to the 1956 New York Boat Show even though it was not in production. At the show the boat was mounted on a turntable, transom down, and was shown strictly as an attraction. The Meteor was a hit. After a few days Dick called me from New York and asked what the boat should sell for. Of course we had never contemplated selling the boat; therefore had not bothered with determining the cost to build it. I asked Dick how many he expected to sell and he gave me a number. After some calculations as to tooling costs, etc. I called him back and gave him a price. He doubled the price I gave him and sold several. I think we, at least, broke even on the model.

Because of my other duties and the fact that the fiberglass production was in good hands, I became less active in that operation but continued engineering functions as well as Purchasing, Scheduling, and Production Management.

In about 1955 ICT and Ed Bishop sold out to Charles Sammons. Bishop remained as President until Sammons brought in his own management a short time later. In 1956 I left Lone Star. Hammond left a few months later.

My family and I moved to Houston in September 1956. The president of Consolidated General Products was interested in getting into the production of aluminum boats. An aluminum salesman whom we both knew recommended me. I designed several models and hired a man I had known at Lone Star to run the shop. After about a year I resigned and began to design and build a fiberglass mold in our garage. Later I moved into a building where I produced two boats. About that time I received a call from Dick Verrill, former Vice President for Sales at Lone Star Boat. He had been in conversation with Powell Awbrey, President of Anchortite, Inc. of Parsons, Kansas, manufacturer of steel reinforcement for highways. Awbrey was interested getting into the fiberglass boat business. Dick had recommended me as one with experience who could do the job. I traveled to Parsons, and Dick and I met with Awbrey and agreed to a relationship. The business was incorporated as Jayhawk Marine Inc. Awbrey bought my operation in Houston and both Dick and I received a share of the corporation. After a short time Dick sold his shares back to Awbrey.

As an aside, When I was on my way to Parsons, Kansas, having been in the Austin area for a church meeting, I stopped by to see Bob Hammond at the Glastron plant. I told him of my plans to go to Parsons and start to design and build Jayhawk boats. Since his first Glastron boat had been copied by several manufacturers, including Redfish in Kansas, Bob's last request of me was, "Charlie, please don't copy my boat."

I hired a toolmaker and we built molds for two models. Soon, at my recommendation, my brother-in-law, Ray Thacker was employed as Sales Manager. A short time later Bob Ewing, Ray's step-son-in-law was hired to handle production. We exhibited at the Chicago Boat Show in 1959 and 1960 and enjoyed some success. Later in 1960 Awbrey decided to get out of the boat business. He traded the molds and some boats that had been designated "seconds" for my share of the Jayhawk corporation.

Ray, Bob, and I incorporated under the name Tempar, Inc. This was an acronym of "Thacker Ewing McGill Parsons." I became President, Ray became Sales Manager, and Bob became Production Manager We retained the name Jayhawk for the boats and continued the business, although we were considerably under funded. We built a few hundred boats and had dealers in New York, Illinois, Kansas, Texas, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and perhaps other states. We entered the Chicago Boat Show in February 1961 and wrote many orders. But by April we began to receive cancellations. There was a depression in the pleasure boat business, and because of our lack of capital, we could not ride it out.

When it became obvious that we could not continue, Ray and Bob left for other employment and I stayed to close the business in an orderly manner.

We sold out to one of our dealers, Mr. Galyan, who owned a chain of grocery stores in Indianapolis, Indiana. The dealership was in Plainfield, Indiana and was run by his son-in-law. Galyan retained the name Tempar for the business and Jayhawk as the name of the line of boats. I have no knowledge of how long he continued in the business.

Model Information

1959 Info

Jayhawk Boats in Use

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