ABILENE, Texas (BigCountryHomepage.com) – After multiple complaints surged our phone lines and inboxes, of layoff rumors at Tigé Boats, BigCountryHomepage (BCH) reached out to the Abilene-based boat manufacturer in search of clarity. It was also rumored that the Development Corporation of Abilene (DCOA) had just entered a partnership with Tigé. In an exclusive interview between DCOA and BCH, it was revealed that the two enterprises never did enter an agreement.
In December 2022, the Abilene City Council approved the DCOA to open negotiations with Tigé. However, conversations were put on pause soon after.
A press release, sent out by Tigé shortly after BCH reached out to the company, detailed that the company has, in fact, laid off a portion of its workforce, but an exact or ballpark amount was not released. As one of the city’s largest employers, this was an alarming fact for many.
Tigé said the round of layoffs were performed in order to prepare the company for ‘long-term financial health,’ subtly referencing recent economic battles.
As far as a partnership with the DCOA goes, the release included:
Though Tigé Boats has been the recipient of the Development Corporation of Abilene’s economic development incentives, Tigé Boats has not received any funds since 2005. Those dollars were for the relocation to its current site on Hwy 36, and all contractual agreements – number of employees, etc. – were met and exceeded.
Daniel Gutierrez, president of Tigé Boats, released this statement:
“Concerning the proposed development agreement with the DCOA, Tigé Boats has not signed or accepted the City Council approved proposal from December. We feel it is only right to continue to evaluate the nature of the consumer market and our future growth plan before going forward with any agreement.”
Charlie Pigeon, Tigé Boats CEO and founder said, “Our home is Abilene, and we are honored to be a part of the business community and provide a source of economic dollars to the Big Country. With Abilene, our dealers, our customers, and most importantly, our employees, we will continue to move forward.”
Tigé Boats also explained that the council’s decision approved a proposal to begin a 10-year growth plan. In congruence, the company said it plans to continue to develop within Abilene.
At the time of this article’s posting, on its website, Tigé Boats is hiring for general production positions and an engineer position.
As for BCH’s exclusive interview with the DCOA’s CEO, Misty Mayo, she said the agreement never made it past the talking stage.
When the DCOA works with a company wanting to expand, Mayo explained that it’s a process which can take years.
“It’s a true partnership. It’s like a public-private partnership,” said Mayo. “We are entering into conversations, very privately, about what a company is planning on doing for their future. That’s why the DCOA says that our vision is to build the future Abilene.”
The DCOA board, with its combined 100+ years of business experience, will consider a project and bring it before the Abilene City Council. The council will then consider the project to give the DCOA the authority to negotiate a deal. It can often be a six-month negotiation process.
Meaning, City Council’s December 2022 approval only authorized the ability for the DCOA to enter an agreement. However, no agreement exists with Tigé Boats based off the council’s approval.
If Tigé was to enter an official agreement with the DCOA, it would be an incentives agreement and would be paid as the business performs.
Mayo explained, “How it actually works is the company performs by investing financially in their project. So, ultimately, investing in the community, and the company adds jobs and they retain jobs. Again, all of those are agreed-upon terms in the contract. Then, as they perform, then they receive incremental payments from the incentive.”
BCH asked, “So, this discussion was paused?
“Tigé determined that they needed to make alternate decisions for their company, so we paused the discussion,” Mayo confirmed. “There is not an incentive agreement between DCOA and Tigé, based from the [Abilene] City Council’s December approval.”
A proposed agreement between the two enterprises was performance-based. As it was explained, Tigé might have had to pledge to invest $12 million in facility expansion, then an incentive would be paid out as investments were made, and as hirings were made official for the purpose of supporting the expansion.
Lastly, BCH asked, “Could the conversation be un-paused?”
The DCOA explained that conversations could resume, but it would have to depend on Tigé and the business decisions it makes.
Mayo added, “We’re definitely very active in insuring that we are providing the resources and tools to these companies so they can grow and prosper in Abilene. And the great news is, is there are jobs for workers. We want people to hear that; that in Abilene, Texas, if you want to work, we have jobs.”