Roy I. Moss

If you’ve ever owned or taken a ride in a Duratech boat, then you’ve experienced the quality of design and craftsmanship which was integral to Duratech over it’s short 15 year span.  However, the engineering mind behind it all did not begin nor end with Duratech.

 

Roy Moss has always loved design and engineering.  He graduated from NY University College of Engineering with a BS in Aeronautical Engineering.  One of his first jobs was with Goodyear Aircraft in Akron, Ohio, where Roy designed wings and wing caps for the B-24 and B-26 models.  Roy also worked as a flight research engineer for Chance-Vought Aircraft.  During this same period, Roy conceived an idea to improve the sport of snow skiing, and designed his own ski tow-rope gripper.   The original remains today in a ski museum in New Hampshire.  Roy continued in his field and became the Chief Project Engineer for Mt. Vernon Farm Implements, a division of Consolidated Diesel Electric.  There, he designed farm wagons, fertilizer spreaders, and the concept of no-till fanning - commonplace now, but a very new idea in the 1940's.

One of Roy's favorite leisure-time activities has always been boating, and his engineering mind didn't shut down when he was out on Long Island Sound.  One day in 1950, he hurt his back carrying his wooden dinghy.  While he was in the hospital recuperating, he designed a 48-Ib. boat made from aluminum, which he soon constructed in his mother’s garage.  The small boat sported a seat taken from one of the fertilizer spreaders he’d designed earlier.  This spawned the early days of the Duratech Manufacturing Corporation, a company which he operated for 15 years with his partner, Paul Kleinman.

 

Duratech started small, producing many of the small aluminum dinghys.  Growth came quickly as they continued and added a full line of aluminum utility boats, runabouts and cruisers, some approaching 20 feet in length.  Duratech also broke into the fiberglass boat market for a short time.  They produced stylish crafts designed by the Glass Magic Company, ranging from 12 - 21 feet.  However in 1961, a major fire destroyed the fiberglass boat plant, inventory, molds and all.  Given the difficult market this was at the time (for instance - 300 fiberglass boat companies in Florida alone), Duratech did not pursue the prospect of re-building and starting over in fiberglass, but continued as a leading manufacturer of quality aluminum boats. 
 

An interesting contract Roy secured along the way was an order for 18-foot aluminum crafts that he'd been told were for recreational use for offshore oil rig employees.  He later saw some of his boats pictured landing on the beach - on the cover of the New York Times.  He quickly discovered that this customer was the CIA, and they were used as landing craft in the Bay of Pigs Invasion in the 1960's. 

 

Towards the mid-60’s, the success and growth of Duratech attracted the attention of several unions.  After considering the prospect of owning a soon-to-be unionized multi-site business and all of the costs and challenges this would impose, Roy and his partner accepted a timely purchase offer from Penn-Yan, a heretofore wooden boat company looking to break into the aluminum and fiberglass boat industry.  Duratech was sold in 1965.  Along with the production equipment, they provided Penn-Yan with the temporary assistance of 6 Duratech associates (including engineer Ed Rodriguez) to teach the manufacturing processes involved with building the boats. Penn-Yan produced Duratech aluminum boats for approximately 3 years, though during this time production lessened and then phased out as Penn-Yan remained focused as a wooden boat manufacturer. Fred Roechling and Don Perkins, former employees of Duratech went on to launch the Duranautic Boat Company shortly thereafter.  Duratech employed 150 people in their multi-plant operation, and produced over 50,000 boats over their 15 year span.  

After selling Duratech, Roy became involved with a company that built acoustical panels for bands and orchestras.  In fact, one set of such panels is still used by the Marine Corps Band on the lawn of the White House.  Roy also worked as a consultant for a New York City firm who was hoping to develop a high speed hydrofoil boat service between Long Island Sound communities and Manhattan. Final realization of all the junk floating in those waters made this an unfeasible idea. 

While with StanRoy Industries, Roy was manufacturing aftermarket auto accessory items such as coin holders, decorative trim, and fake car phones. Under the name Dory Development Corporation, Roy designed and manufactured detachable hard tops for Mustangs and Corvair convertibles and sold these for two years.  He still hears from folks who are restoring these cars and looking for his tops - they're a collector's item now.  

Roy’s son participated in a diving expedition to a sunken ship in Mexico.  He brought back buckles, buttons, crosses, etc., but no doubloons!  The ship was dubbed Her Majesty's Woolworths.  This gave Roy the idea that reproductions of gold doubloons, pieces of eight, and other old coins might be quite marketable.  He met a fellow who had a collection of coin plaster impressions from a British museum, including coins of ancient Greece, Rome, biblical coins, colonial American, Chinese and pirate treasure coins. Producing coins from these plasters was a service provided to other museums as well.  Roy started casting coins from molds made from these plasters, and marketed them in a multitude of fields.

Roy was off and running now, selling theme-oriented memorabilia. He was extremely busy during the USA bicentennial, making reproductions of Colonial American coins and products thereof, and related postage stamps in pewter. In the late 1970's he came upstate to visit his children at Skidmore College, fell in love with the area, and bought a house built in 1790 which was in dire need of attention.  After five years of weekending and home improvements, he moved into the bicentennial home in 1977.  Unfortunately, the home burned down just a couple of years later.

Dory Development is still going strong, with customers all over the country and the Caribbean.  Dory creates pewter reproductions of coins and products thereof, stamps for memorabilia purposes, and also reproduces custom designs in pewter.  Roy's biggest customer is the National Park System, and others include prestige accounts such as Disney World the Smithsonian, Sturbridge Village and many of the US State Museums.  The Washington County Band wanted to give Musikfreunde band members a gift during their visit several years ago, and Roy made beautiful pewter key chains with the Washington County logo on one side, and both band names and the date on the other; a true keepsake.

Roy Moss is now 86 years old, and is quick to point out that Dory Development is mainly handled these days by Kim Skellie and Pat Shaw, his business associates.  However, given the priveledge I've had spending time speaking with Mr. Moss on a number of occasions, I can tell you that his mind remains sharp, and he could still out-design and engineer me any day.  When asked about the many ventures and successes Roy has experienced over the years, his simple reply was "Most of my ideas came about as a result of something I needed, and I always knew that if I needed it, someone else did as well."

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