After less than two years in business, H2O Sports Manufacturing is expanding its operation and hiring more workers to meet demand for its Clearwater and Cape Craft brands.
H20 Sports founders Chad Roberson and his father-in-law, Charles Baker, bought the brands after spending several years working for a different boat manufacturer. They converted a brick government building in Americus, Ga., and have 25 dealers along the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico.
“In January 2015, we built one boat,” Roberson told Trade Only Today. “Now we’re building 10 boats a week. We’ve got 52 people working in the plant now, and we’re looking to hire 30 by the end of the calendar year.”
The company recently bought the Trophy trademark and brand, which Brunswick Corp. had let lapse. “The name went dead,” Roberson said. “We just bought the trademark to the name and the rights.”
They chose Trophy because it has brand recognition, he said, but no molds or tooling came with it. The company is taking the brand in a new direction, although Roberson said it will remain price-competitive.
“What we’re doing is we’re developing a full line of skiffs, and the reason we’re doing that is because as far as outboard saltwater boats, that’s the No. 1-registered boat in the United States, Roberson said.
Design engineer Chris Smith said the boat will be in high demand because it will incorporate several features not typically seen on boats from 18 to 24 feet, including a console with a walk-in head.
“There will be lots of live storage space and things you wouldn’t find on many boats, much less a skiff this size,” Smith said. “The hull we’re running here, it’s not a traditional skiff. It’s more of a mix of traditional skiff flat hull and a bay hull. It gives a tighter lift and a smoother ride. The traditional skiff has a very flat bow, and you have wave impact. The center of this hull is actually a V bay hull. It softens our entry up.”
The company said Friday that it is partnering with Honda Marine on the propulsion and will be ready to debut the boat to dealers — of which it expects to have 50 of by July — at its dealer meeting next month.
Smith said the boat also has features that will make it more comfortable for aging boomers who previously enjoyed bass boats.
“It’s traditional on the coast, but it’s also accepted in lake markets,” he said. “My guess is what’s going to happen is, America’s aging, and the guy that might have bought a bass boat when he was 55 or 58 years old, at 65 years old, does he really want to crawl in and out of one? A skiff is good in shallow waters, easy to get in and out of."