Man, I lived through this once, use local guys, and here is what I look for;
1) Financially stable, if they are living job to job, they will short cut yours.
2) been in operation 7 years or more, by then the business is stable and the owner can focus more on customers needs than paying his own bills.
3) Solid references, from people who have similar work done
4) owners who you can have a relationship with, so your stuff is more than just stuff to be messed with
5) owner who is active in community, so a unhappy customers would not only be a business problem but a social one too
6) spend time on OSO discussing each job so you know what to look for and can discuss the job intelligently, then the owner will know he can not pull the wool over your eyes...
My experience only, once I have found that I can trust the system to help keep that guy honest, and he has had to be honest to get to that position.
Most manufactures, especially small ones, see each boat is hardware, not your baby, and many are financially strapped, so the payment on your job gets used to finish the last one, then is no one comes along after yours, you are screwed.
Better shop owners prefer you do this kind of homework so you can be a better customer, can apprecieate what they do, and they do not mind being held to a high standard.
This lesson cost me over $20K when dealing with a small manufacturer over some very straightforward work.
Anyway, just my two cents....