Success Story

Hudson Boat Works


Glen Burston, Operations Manager, at the Hudson Boat Works facility in London, Ontario.

A fraction of a second can make all the difference for rowing teams competing for Olympic gold. Few understand this better than London-based Hudson Boat Works, one of the world’s three top manufacturers of custom racing shells for elite rowing programs. Since 1984, Hudson boats have won 80 Olympic and World Rowing Championship medals. But now Hudson wants customers to know its boats are the best before they even hit the water.

Hudson is currently the only manufacturer of its kind dedicated to providing customers with quantitative data on the quality of its handcrafted boats from the beginning of the manufacturing process. To do this, the company is developing technologies that measure key indicators of a boat’s performance. One important indicator is stiffness. For top performance, rowing shells must be as stiff as possible because flexibility wastes the
crew’s energy.

In collaboration with Fanshawe College’s Centre for Research and Innovation, Hudson has developed a first-of-its-kind test stand to measure the stiffness of each boat manufactured. Fanshawe faculty and students began designing the test stand in late 2013. Construction was made possible with $95,500 from Ontario Centres of Excellence’s Voucher for Innovation and Productivity II (VIP II) Program.

Recently completed, the 40-foot aluminum stand goes into use starting January 2016. The test stand, which enables Hudson to eliminate variance and improve the quality of its boats, will be integral to Hudson’s system for delivering key performance metrics to customers. The company continues to work with Fanshawe on additional technologies.

Return on Innovation

  • Team has grown by 10 employees in the last year, bringing the total to 80
  • Projects 15-20% of additional growth in staff over the next two years
  • OCE investment: $95,562

OCE©2015 Last updated 10/2015