After more than enough bad news for a while, this month we've begun to receive some positive news about boat builders in the heartland.
Ranger Boats To Expand in Flippin
In October, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission reported that Fishing Holdings, the parent company of Ranger Boats announced the expansion of Ranger's manufacturing facility in Flippin, Ark.
The company will invest $13 million to retool, transition and expand its facilities, which will create more than 115 new jobs. The additional jobs will increase total employment at the manufacturing facility to approximately 540 people.
Ranger Boats was founded in 1968 by Flippin, Ark., native Forrest L. Wood. The current facility is located on Highway 178 North near Bull Shoals Lake.
Earlier this month, Skipper Manufacturing, based in La Crosse, Wis., announced via a news release that it had acquired the rights to the assets formerly owned by Skipperliner Industries, Inc. The new owner, Jeb Griffith, said SkipperLiner will continue the production of Coast Guard-certified passenger vessels, workboats and pleasure craft.
SkipperLiner 606 River Yacht
Griffith is an avid boater and entrepreneur. He is the founder and former owner of Winnebago Software Co., which he sold in 2000, and the former owner of Miken Sports, which he sold in 2004. Griffith is also the owner of Locknet Inc and Supernal Software LLC in La Crosse, Wis.
SkipperLiner has teamed with Pinnacle Marine Corp to lead the sales and marketing of SkipperLiner boats. Here's a YouTube video about the line.
MarineLink.com, online presence of Maritime Reporter and MarineNews magazines, reported this month that SeaArk Marine, Inc, recently delivered a 30-foot Enforcer Series all-welded aluminum fire-and-rescue boat to the Guntersville, Ala., Fire Department. Guntersville is a popular stop on the Great Loop. SeaArk Marine is headquartered in Monticello, Ark.
The boat features a modified Vee, constant-deadrise hull to produce a smooth, dry and stable ride. Fire fighters need fast response times, the ability to fight fires in all weathers, and maneuverability on-station, so the Guntersville Fire Department gave these characteristics high priority.
The boat is intended for fire-rescue-recovery missions on Lake Guntersville, a 69,000-acre lake, and the Tennessee River. To respond quickly, the department selected twin 250-horsepower, four-stroke, Yamaha outboard engines mounted on an integrated motor mounting platform surrounded by a heavy-duty outboard protection bar.
A SeaArk Marine boat with characteristics of the Guntersville FD boat
Mercury Marine Expands Wisconsin Plant
An inflatable manufactured by Mercury Marine
According to the fdlreporter.com, from Fond du Lac, Wis., a 33,000-square-foot addition is now under construction at Mercury Marine's Fond du Lac, Wis., facility.
"It's a large building, but it doesn't look that large when you look at the overall plant," community development director Wayne Rollin told the Fond du Lac Reporter newspaper. "A year and a half ago, we thought the company might not be here at all. So this is definitely good news for the community."
Construction is expected to be completed by Jan. 1, according to Mercury spokesman Steve Fleming.
The expansion project is needed to support the consolidation of Stillwater, Okla., operations with Mercury's Wisconsin site.
A New Brand
News is spreading about Wayne Floe, builder of docks, trailers and boat lifts in McGregor, Minn. Apparently he now plans to build a new line of boats called Floe Craft, with a very unconventional look to them. Minnesota's Bluewater Yachts will be building the Floe Craft boats.