Boatbuilder Spotlight: Midnight Express
This week’s edition of boatbuilder spotlight: Midnight Express. I take a look at the US-based family-owned boat builder responsible for some of the sexiest, fastest and most desirable high-performance centre console boats on the market.
Midnight Express is based in North Miami and manufactures boats ranging in size from 34 foot up to 60 foot.
Something that’s not as well known about Midnight Express is that it’s a family-owned and operated business. Brothers Eric and Harris Glaser run the factory that was purchased by their father, Bert. After purchasing the company in 2006, the family set about establishing a product range that met their high standards of quality. But the new business would soon be hit by two major challenges.
The first came in the form of the 2008 global financial recession which was a major knock for the company. Fortunately a number of government orders for Homeland Security and similar contracts, kept them afloat. However, no sooner had the family weathered that initial storm when an even greater one that nobody could’ve predicted, hit: Bert was severely injured in a horrific motorcycle accident in 2009, which left him without the use of his legs.
The future success of Midnight Express now lay in the hands of Bert’s sons Eric and Harris, who were thrown in the deep end so to speak, having to knuckle down and build the business on their own. But not before their dad Bert had handed them a new challenge.
As any true boater knows, being stuck on dry land for the rest of your life is worse than being made to walk the plank, and Bert was no different. So, he did what any patriarch of a custom boat-building business would do: He insisted that his sons develop a boat that would allow him to once again get out on the water.
This was no small task, as several major engineering challenges had to be overcome. For example, the boat needed a side-access door large enough to accommodate Bert’s wheelchair. This feature would impact negatively on the hull’s integrity and rigidity, requiring significant design changes to the hull.
Those changes were made, the boat was built, and the finished hull is strong enough that it doesn’t even require that the door be in place. Additionally, custom seating with special shock-absorbing mechanisms had to be designed to take the pressure off Bert’s back. According to Eric, the solution for this was to take a shock absorber from “one of those huge trucks you see jumping in the sand” and design it into the seating. That was finished off with a motorised lift to allow Bert easy access in and out of the seat and to ensure that he could comfortably take the boat’s helm. The final product of this whole process was a customised 39 foot boat that has ensured that Bert can continue to enjoy the ocean with his family.
This kind of engineering and design knowledge is a great example of the skills and expertise made available to Midnight Express customers. With a range of power boats now on offer, Midnight Express promises to tailor each boat’s design to every customer’s specific requirements. This includes elements like custom upholstery colours, a variety of power options, customised paint colour schemes and even custom audio installations.
The latest boat in the Midnight Express stable is their 60 foot ‘Pied a Mer’, a craft that truly epitomises the Midnight Express philosophy of building fast, luxurious, custom boats. Featuring a vast array of on-board seating, sunbed and entertainment options, the large boat even boasts two large cabins for true weekender functionality. A highlight of the Pied a Mer’s design is a gorgeous circular sunroof built into the centre console and providing a generous amount of external lighting that streams into the accommodation below deck.
Midnight Express is now one of very few builders offering a 60 foot centre console boat, which really speaks to the way this company has grown since the Glaser family took over.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of Boatbuilder Spotlight: Midnight Express. I, for one, look forward to seeing many more custom Midnight Express boats on the water around the US.
NOTE: Some information and images for this article were obtained from the excellent article ‘Midnight Express Customised for a Paraplegic’ written by Daniel Harding over at PowerandMotoryacht.com. To view that full article, click here.