Sintes Boat Works
Were you caught in nose-to-tail traffic this morning? Was your tie too tight or your heels too high? Did you wish you were going anywhere else than to your job?
One thing is certain, Steve Sintes, 55, was not thinking any of those things this morning. He starts his day the way he’s started every day for the past 42 years, working in his family’s business, Sintes Boat Works.
“I drink my coffee as the sun rises over the yard and I think about how blessed my life is,” says Steve, who is the yard manager for Sintes. “I think about the boats I’m going to get to work on that day and just how lucky I am to have this job, this life.”
Susan Weaver, the business’s office manager, is grateful that she found her job at Sintes in the classifieds 20 years ago.
“It’s great, I don’t have to wear panty hose to work,” she jokes. “And everyday I’m in touch with nature. I enjoy the early mornings, when the water is still and I can hear the boats’ wind chime of the halyards. You can’t buy that feeling.”
Steve’s father, Lawrence Sintes, 82, owns the business. He started it with his father in 1955. Sintes Boat Works, which also includes Sea Chest Marine, a marine hardware store and a supply distributorship, has nine employees and annual sales of approximately $1 million. It all sits on a large corner lot across from West End Park.
Throughout the 27,000-square-foot compound are sailboats, boat motors, kayaks, canoes, antique and vintage boats, boat lifts and all things maritime. The company offers a wide range of services for all kinds of boats, from painting, to rigging and repairing electrical systems, to air conditioning.
When Steve was 14 years old, he got in a fight and suffered a significant stab wound. The scar on his arm is still visible.
“My father decided to charged me $40 a month to live at home and I had to work at the company. I was fortunate to learn from the best people around, who had been during this work for years.”
He learned his craft well. Now, at any given time, he finds himself working on 20 boats, from complete restoration to general maintenance.
“The best part of my job is testing out the boats,” he says. “So while my client is sitting in an office in his three-piece suit, I’m sailing his boat, just testing it out. I have the best job ever.”
Once he had to rescue one of his clients, Alain F. Cracco, from the middle of Lake Ponchartrain where his hybrid boat had stalled. For Sintes it wasn’t a chore, it was just another excuse to get out on the water.
Cracco, an orthopedic surgeon, is a long-time and loyal client and appreciates all the quality work he’s received throughout the years.
“It’s like family,” he says as he sits in his boat readying for another adventure.
Stevie, 34, Steve’s son, manages the store. He too is proud of his family business and loves what he does.
“We have a great reputation,” he says. “Sometimes people leave but they always come back. I enjoy working with our clients. I get to meet the people who travel the world and help them succeed.”
The business is important to the whole family. Fifth-generation Stella, Stevie’s 8-year-old daughter, begs to come to work, where she stays busy filing paperwork and wiping out the spider webs that pervasively plague the boatyard.
“We are proud of our business,” says Stevie. “My goal is to keep my family’s name on it forever.”
Sea Chest Inc.
7385 W. Roadway
New Orleans, La