Mack Sails, Inc.
The Sailor’s Choice for nearly 50 years!
There once was a fledgling sail loft in Fort Lauderdale (one of only two real sailmakers in South Florida, the other in Miami) named Swedish Sailmakers after the old-country craftsman who started it. In 1967, lifelong sailor Brad Mack took over and Bradford Mack & Co. Sailmakers was born. In 1970 it became Mack-Shaw Sailmakers for 17 years with partner Skip Shaw and then Mack Sails in 1987 when Skip Shaw retired and Brad Mack moved the shop to Stuart, Florida. Nevertheless, Mack Sails still maintains an active presence in Fort Lauderdale with former employees Nance (Bob) and Underwood (Roger) at their popular full-service shop.
A lot has changed in business and light manufacturing in 50 years, but at Mack Sails our commitment to very high quality and great customer relations remains steadfast. We may have computer cutting and fancier sewing machines, but otherwise, our sail loft looks pretty much the same. Forty years ago there were hundreds of sailmakers across the country, some small, and a few quite large, but there were virtually no branch lofts nor brand names shared by many local lofts. Venerable Ratseys was a falling star, Hood and Hard were kings of the east coast and North, and Watts had California. But each was in its one-and-only loft. Today, many years later, we are among the very few who are still independent. Every Mack Sail is made in Stuart and we insist that each one is made from the very best cloth and hardware and that we are proud to put our label on it. Most of the brand name lofts have their customers custom made sails actually made in China or Mexico. We don’t have to tell you why they do that, but we don’t! Furthermore, we have no intention of ever doing so. We relish our close relationship with every customer and every sail and our customers like and appreciate us for it.
In 1967, Dacron sailcloth had a decade of proof behind it for its superiority over other synthetics and cotton and, except for spinnakers, was specified for practically every sail, cruising or racing. There were three styles of Dacron sailcloth available then: very firm (tempered yarn favored by North), medium firm (cloth woven from quality yarns used universally by every sailmaker for cruising and club racing), and very tightly woven fabric from quality yarns with little or no resin for a softer finish (woven by Hood and Bainbridge). There was practically no bad sailcloth to be had and, except for tempered yarn which had the nasty habit of turning into cheesecloth after the resin fluttered out of it, a well made sail could last 10 to 20 years, or more. Unfortunately, that’s no longer a universal truth except for here at Mack Sails. We will explain more about why we use the cloth we do in our “Discussion About Sailcloth” section.
Brad Mack’s two sons, Travis and Colin, spent nearly all their free time growing up sailing (racing or cruising) or in the sail loft learning the ropes, so it was only natural, and gratifying, that as each finished college (1990 and 1994 respectively) he joined the family firm. By 2002, Travis and Colin decided it was time to retire the senior partner and they took over completely. Travis was already running the sail loft and doing all the new sail design. Colin had taken over the rigging and hardware department and decided it was time to branch out into electronics as it was just getting too difficult coordinating outside electronics installers into his busy schedule of stepping masts and commissioning. Mack Sails is now one of the only full service shops handling new sails, repairs and recutting, all hardware from blocks to winches, masts, booms, roller furling, mainsail systems, custom aluminum and stainless, custom awl-gripping spars, all electronics from masthead units through radar to auto pilots, and more. In addition to our immediate service area, (most of the Florida coast) we have installed boat systems from Canada to the Caribbean. Travis talks personally with each new sail customer before the design process and then ships out the new sail(s) to customers all over the map we pay UPS to anywhere in the USA). We do the same with every one of our popular custom made Mack Packs.
The Mack Sails success story is simple – deliver an extraordinarily designed and crafted product – for an honest price that is less than brand names – back it up with sincere interest in the customers’ needs and desires – and stand behind it no matter what. It’s worked well for nearly 50 years, so we’ll just keep at it. As one of our ads says, “check our website, chat with our customers and see why Mack Sails has become the biggest, small loft in America.”