“Over the last fifty years, the Cruisair® brand has developed a long standing reputation for high quality engineering and exceptional customer service,” comments Frank Marciano, President of Dometic Marine. “From the very beginning, Jere Crews employed a philosophy of bringing innovative products to customers backed by solid engineering standards. He then combined these high standards with the ability to provide technically trained service personnel anywhere in the world dedicated to customer satisfaction. By doing this, we have gained considerable respect within the marine community globally.”
Frank Marciano commented, ‘Jere Crews is a true boating industry pioneer. He was a visionary who was the first to recognize the enormous potential for marine air-conditioning technology. Starting from humble beginnings, building the first product in his garage, Jere built a very successful company, Marine Development Corporation and single-handedly created an entire industry segment.’
‘His legacy is still with us at Dometic Marine. He built a highly successful company on the foundation of engineering excellence, continuing innovation and, most importantly, a total commitment to customer service. These are the cornerstones of our business philosophy today.’
In late 1959, there were not many options for air-conditioning on boats. A boat owner could buy a window unit and try to jury-rig an installation by cutting a hole in the cabin and blowing hot air from the condenser across the deck, or they could seek out one of the small number of specialists who were fabricating custom one-off water-cooled air-conditioners. In the same year Crews built a water-cooled air-conditioner in his garage for a friend’s 50-foot Alden schooner. It worked so well that in 1960, Crews formed a company to build similar systems, anticipating that production boat builders would soon be specifying and installing air-conditioning on new boats to meet the growing demand. The company was called Marine Development Corporation and the products sold under the Cruisair brand name.
‘We were lucky to hit the market at the right time with the right product,’ said Crews recently. ‘The mass market for boats was just breaking open in the US as boat builders started moving into larger-scale production of fibreglass hulls. A new generation of affluent boat buyers, accustomed to the comforts of air-conditioning in their homes, offices and cars, was beginning to ask for the same comfort and convenience in their boats, which they regarded as a second home on the water.’
During his tenure as President and Chairman of Marine Development Corporation, Crews – who never lost his passion for engineering and inventing – spearheaded many important innovations in marine air-conditioning technology. His company led the way with the first reverse-cycle heat pumps with automatic switch-over from cooling to heating, the first marine battery charger with automatic shut-off to protect batteries from overcharging, the first computer-based air-conditioning controls, the first automatic dehumidification routine for unattended boats, the first portable hatch-top air-conditioner, the first tempered-water systems for large yachts and many other innovations.
In the 1990s, Crews retired from active management of the company, which was later merged with the Marine Air brand under the Taylor Made Group’s ownership and acquired by Dometic Corporation in 2003.
Today, Dometic’s Cruisair® brand remains at the forefront of the industry. With close to a million Cruisair® systems installed over the years in yachts all over the world, Cruisair® continues to offer the most complete product range on the market. From portable hatchtop air-cooled units for small vessels, to multi-ton tempered-water systems for yachts over 70 feet and every size air conditioner in-between, the company prides itself as a leading global supplier of marine air conditioning systems.
Jere Crews, founder of Cruisair® and pioneer of marine air conditioning in the USA adds, “Fifty years ago one of our toughest challenges was to develop the technology that would survive the harsh marine environment, as well as compliment other system installations. Since then, technology has moved on a long way, to the point that few boat owners in the warmer latitudes would consider going to sea without an air conditioning system installed onboard.”