Meet Chris Costa

The founder and owner of Costa Marine discusses the past and future.

Chris Costa in an interior boat salon
Chris CostaEric Weeks

From Egg Harbor City, New Jersey, Chris Costa grew up around some of boatbuilding’s legends—Ocean Yachts, Post, Egg Harbor and Viking—and he continues to credit his passion for the sport-fishing industry as the driving motivation behind his success. For more than 30 years, Costa Marine has offered builders and customers the complete package—interior and exterior—for one-stop shopping. Using high-end trends and superior materials to steer production, Costa’s talented craftsmen specialize in enclosure and exterior upholstery, with a separate team concentrating solely on fully custom interior builds.

Q: Did you come from a family of furniture makers?

A: My parents started their canvas and upholstery company in our basement when I was 2 years old. My dad's first break was doing canvas work for a local Bertram dealer; he did a ton of Bimini tops for Bertram 31s back in the day, along with cushions, covers and curtains. I grew up learning both the interior and exterior sides of the business from them.

Q: How did you get into the sport-fishing industry?

A: I grew up around boats, and eventually my father got hooked up with Ocean Yachts and worked with them from the minute they opened until the day they closed up shop. He started doing canvas work for Bill Healey at Viking in 1973, and in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I worked on Vikings at the boatyard with my dad. Luckily, Viking Yacht Company's growth and ours correlated with one another; both companies are committed to working every day to provide better products to our customers.

Q: Are you a fisherman?

A: I am. We have a bay boat, and I'm on the water every weekend. Well, until hunting season.

Q: How do you cater to the sport-fishing industry?

By understanding that fishing is a passion for many of our clients. We’re fortunate to work with top-shelf, quality captains who help keep us in tune with where the industry is going. Years of experience has shown us that service is just as important as creating new and innovative products. If someone needs a repair to his bridge enclosure, then we know it has to be done immediately, so we can keep them fishing and the boss happy.

chris costa reviewing boat upholstery fabrics
Costa is acutely aware that marine environments require materials that are not only rugged, but luxurious and comfortable too. Using only the finest fabrics available, each customer’s need is truly met.Eric Weeks

Q: Speaking of enclosures, are they all the same?

A: Not now. Twenty-five years ago, there was only Eisenglass and everything snapped into place. After about two years, the product would turn yellow; after four or five years, it would need to be replaced. But boats have changed a lot. Back then the enclosures only had to withstand 30 knots of wind pressure—now they need to be able to take 50-plus knots, last for 10 years and stay clear.

Q: Costa Clear is your brand of enclosures, correct?

A: Yes. The material we use is an acrylic, which is optically clearer than glass. We always want to put together the best components with great fit and finish to make the best bridge enclosure on the market. John Leek IV, formerly of Ocean Yachts and now with Viking, was the one who suggested we call it Costa Clear. We also manufacture our patented Costa Track for the enclosure. We needed a cleaner track with no exposed screws, which complements the flybridge designs on many of these boats. We're constantly brainstorming for ways to create a better product.

Q: Does Costa Clear require different cleaning strategies than the other polycarbonate products used today?

A: We recommend using our brand of spray cleaner and polish, just like Strataglass recommends you use theirs. Truth be told, some of the cleaners can be used on both of the products. Collinite's Insulator wax works wonders on our enclosures. One of the many benefits of using acrylic is that it can be buffed to remove any scratches.

Q: You designed and created products for several builders this spring. What were some of those projects?

A: The 97-foot Weaver, 18 Reeler; 77-foot Paul Mann, Full Time; 75-foot F&S, Warpath; the new Bayliss, Tarheel; and the new 80-foot Viking, Miss Victoria. My staff and I are constantly looking at overall function, but also aesthetics, so working with builders such as these keeps us on our toes. It keeps us creating.

Q: How many projects do you complete per year and what is the lead time?

A: On average, we do anywhere from 80 to 100 projects per year. Most are total packages: enclosures, covers, bridge and mezzanine cushions, with some complete interior builds. Lead times vary project to project, but typically anywhere from four to eight weeks, not including the planning steps and any changes that need to be addressed. We get on the boat toward the end of the build or refit, and at that stage, both the builder and the owner are anxious to get the boat done. We understand the importance of delivering quality products in a timely manner.

Chris Costa standing by a custom designed bed
The Costa Marine design team creates some of the finest interiors in the industry. From custom headboards to mattresses, spreads, pillows and shams, the look and feel of its interiors are extraordinary.Eric Weeks

Q: What’s on the horizon?

A: Right now we are doing a ton of design work and prototypes for Viking's new Valhalla Boatworks center console models. We also have more custom builds this winter, along with a busy new model year of Vikings.

Q: It can’t be “All canvas, all the time.” What do you do for fun?

A: My son and I love boating and fishing. I'm also an avid hunter.

Q: Where and what do you hunt?

A: I've hunted deer, elk and bear all over the United States and Canada. I just got my wild turkey grand slam, which was very rewarding. Whitetail deer are my passion, big ones. I've hunted Texas bucks for 20 years.

Q: How do you define success in your personal and your professional life?

A: Results from hard work! I surround myself with good people—in business and in my personal life. I believe you stay connected by listening and understanding the ideas of owners, captains and crews. I'm passionate about what I do and I love challenges. If those challenges can spark more ideas, all the better. My wife of 25 years, Jill, is incredibly supportive. She and my kids—Chris Jr., Gabriella and Lauren—really help keep me grounded. This is such a crazy business, but I love it.