Skip to main content

Former MasterCraft CEO buys majority stake in boatbuilder

John Dorton recently bought the majority interest in Sweetwater, Tenn.-based Bryant Boats, a privately held family company that builds 18- to 27-foot boats, including deckboats, bowriders and runabouts.

The former CEO of MasterCraft officially exited his month-long retirement when the deal closed Friday.

“This is a neat opportunity for both of us. We’ve been so like-minded on so many things,” Dorton told Soundings Trade Only. “I never dreamed they would have an interest in selling some of their business.”

Bryant will seek opportunities, but the company will stay out of the inboard ski boat market, Dorton said.

“This is a non-competitive segment to my old life — they have no interest in the sterndrive segment and I have no interest in the inboard segment,” Dorton said. “I have no intention of getting into the inboard segment. When someone gets out of a certain segment, the rumors fly, but Bryant has no intention of getting into the inboard market. That’s a tough category.”

“I do see some opportunity in the sterndrive segment for some excitement [and] to bring some new styling and innovation,” Dorton added. “We’re going to make all our boats saltwater-compliant; we’re seeing a lot of runabouts now going to coastal regions, both domestically and internationally, and I think that will make the boats more robust, even for the exclusive lake boater.”

The company also will look to add to its dealer network — which numbers about 40 in North America — in the Deep South, Central South and the West, Dorton said.

“We really believe we can help dealers find niches of buyers that are currently being underserved by other manufacturers,” Dorton said. “Again, Bryant being a smaller, lower-production manufacturer, we’re able to go in and focus on more of the niche subsegments of the sterndrive business.”

Jim Bryant launched his first boat company in 1960, and 30 years later he and his son Joe founded Bryant Boats. The two will still have a large presence at Bryant Boats, Dorton said.

Read more about Dorton’s plans for Bryant Boats in the November issue of Soundings Trade Only.

— Reagan Haynes



ASA Announces Inaugural Tournament

The Keep America Fishing Tournament will run Sept. 1 through Sept. 30.


Expanded Norwalk Show Returns

Organizers are providing additional dock space and boater education programs for the Sept. 22-25 show.


Ribcraft Building RIBS for U.S. Navy

The company said the 278-boat contract is likely the largest ever awarded by the Navy.


Yamaha Expands Technical Training

The company signed an agreement with the Alaska Maritime Education Consortium to bolster training in the state’s remote regions.


OneWater to Distribute Forza X1 Boats

The companies said customers may use the website, an app or kiosk at OneWater locations, as well as in-person with a salesperson.


Boat Prices Plateau, and Some Weaken

A quarterly J.D. Power survey found that prices for all segments remain at near historic highs.


The Customer Isn’t Always Right

Keeping customers happy is a necessary part of relationship-building, but there are situations when the prudent business decision is to cut ties and walk away.


Front Runner Boatworks Hires Director

Jimmy Thompson, whose experience includes dealership sales and management, will oversee the center console builder’s national sales efforts.


Glendinning Marks 50th Anniversary

The South Carolina family business started with automatic synchronizers and today offers a variety of automation solutions.