Today, ABBRA is a national member organization that represents over 250 boatyards, repairers and associated industries in the United States and abroad. It was originally founded in New York on March 10, 1943, as the Atlantic Coast Boat Builders and Repairers Association, Inc. The states along the East Coast of the United States made up the original membership. As stated in the original Certificate of Incorporation, the purpose of the association was:
To foster the trade, commerce and interests of the boat building and boat repairing yards located on the Atlantic Coast of the United States;
to reform abuses which may be relative thereto; to diffuse reliable and accurate information and other matters pertaining to the boatbuilding and repairing industry; to procure uniformity and certainty throughout said industry; to promote a more enlarged and friendly intercourse among its members; to secure the advantages and benefits to its members of collective action; to promote the development of the boat building and repairing industry, and to do any and all things necessary to carry into effect the aforesaid purposes.
The founding Chairman of the Association was Marshall E. Tulloch of Greenport Basin & Construction Co.; Treasurer was Henry B. Nevins of Henry B. Nevins, Inc.; and Jerome F. Healy, Jr. served as General Counsel and Executive Secretary.
On January 27, 1953, the Association filed a Certificate of Amendment, officially changing its name to the American Boat Builders & Repairers Association.