Team Mirage

Meet the Mirage team

Scroll down to read their profiles

Denny Keller


Every business needs a guy like Denny Keller. In March 2004, Denny celebrated his tenth anniversary at Mirage Manufacturing, where he serves as vice-president.

If you ever visit our Gainesville facility, the first thing you will notice is that Denny’s office is the neat one, and it is festooned with U.S. Marine Corps paraphernalia—and yes, that is why all our factory boats are named Semper Fi.

Denny Keller is a retired Marine Corps Major, and he brings to the often chaotic world of boatbuilding a sense of process and procedure which has contributed mightily to Mirage’s success building custom trawler yachts and sportfish boats.

In 1994, Denny was retired and restless, having gone by the stroke of a pen from responsibility over vast military endeavors, identified by unpronounceable acronyms, to a man without a mission. In his 40s and unaccustomed to a life of leisure, he cast about for a second career to apply his administrative and accounting skills. Trouble was: location. Denny’s wife had accepted an important position here in Gainesville, a university town imbued with knee-jerk mistrust toward all things military.

Luckily for everyone, Denny Keller found Mirage Manufacturing, which probably has only one thing in common with the Marine

Corps, but it was key. Success here is based on merit, whether you got your initial training at Parris Island or Woodstock. Keller, who began not knowing anything about boatbuilding, held a variety of positions at the company, including plant manager, before rising to VP.

He met each challenge with a sense of organization, tact and humor. The guys in the shop respected him, the customers trusted him, and he became an indispensable right-hand man to Mirage President Ken Fickett. With Denny handling administration, Ken was free to concentrate on the engineering and design challenges that brought about Mirage’s acclaimed line of trawler yachts.

Denny, a native of Pittsburgh, is married to Cindy Keller, the mother of his son and a daughter that recently delivered Denny’s first grandchild. When he isn’t working, Denny can be found exercising his social skills on the golf course or his culinary talent at the grill. There’s nothing complicated about him. Whether it’s family, career or country, Denny Keller’s motto translates as “always faithful.

Eric Kraft, Salesman

In our charter advertisements, we urge customers to “try before you buy.” In the case of Mirage Manufacturing’s salesman Eric Kraft, it worked a little differently—more like “try before you buy in.” In 2005, Eric and his family chartered Mirage’s factory boat Semper Fi for a week. It happened that Eric was selling his
Gainesville Mercedes dealership and was casting about for a new and more satisfying career, something to balance his other vocation, crafting marine motif metal sculptures.

The next thing we knew, Eric was on board selling boats and helping to develop Mirage’s innovative CruisePro trawler training program. He was also looking for a break in Mirage’s busy production schedule to begin building his own Great Harbour N37. Why not? He had already built a fully-functioning radio control model of the boat and called it Yellowfin.

Eric spent his youth on boats in the Potomac and Chesapeake throughout the 1960s and 70s. When his family moved south, Eric expanded his boating experience on the waters of South Florida and the Bahamas. During the 1980s, he spent as much time as family and the car business would allow participating in sportfishing tournaments and scuba diving. These were the twin passions that would later inform his art.

Eric began making copper sculptures in 1974 while still in high school and had spent a portion of one summer training under renowned master copper sculptor Kevin Jenkins. His early works were abstracts and wall hangings that he sold for spending money during his high school and college years. For the next 17 years, the artwork went onto the back burner as Eric raised a family and pursued a career in the automobile business. In the late 1990s, he converted part of his barn into a studio and returned to sculpture, this time concentrating on wildlife and images of the sea.

His work is recognized nationally, and can be found at major art festivals and shows throughout Florida. He is a member of the Worldwide Nature Artists Group and you can visit his website at

Eric has been married to Cinda for 25 years. They have two children. Lauren, 21, is a senior at Florida State University and Lee, 17, is a high school junior.

Travis Fickett, Vice President of Information Technology or (352) 377-4146

Darryl Bowdoin, Production Manager or (352) 377-4146

Jennifer Sanders, Purchasing Manager or (352) 377-4146

Annie Smith-Bova, Communications Director or (352) 377-4146

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