Brunswick Corp. started the production of Harris FloteBote and Cypress Cay pontoons at its new facility in Fort Wayne, Ind., after spending $1.2 million to move operations from its former Fort Wayne factory.
Harris FloteBote and Cypress Cay president Nick Stickler told NBC33 that despite pressure to use an existing facility, the help the company got from the city and state, as well as the company’s faith in the local work force, prompted the decision to open a new factory.
The new 360,000-square-foot facility — nearly triple the size of the old one — used to be occupied by a division of Lincoln Foodservice Products LLC, whose parent company is Manitowoc, Harris FloteBote and Cypress Cay marketing manager Jane Schlegel told Trade Only Today in June. The new facility was retrofitted and remodeled.
Workers celebrated after christening the first boat to come off the new assembly line.
So far, 27 full-time employees have been added to the 261-person work force, but the company anticipates hiring 200 by 2016, which will include positions ranging from salaried to part-time.
The pontoon market has been one of the industry’s strongest during its recovery from the Great Recession. Statistical Surveys reported Monday that sales of pontoons rose 24.8 percent, to 3,867, in July in 31 early-reporting states, outpacing all other categories in the industry’s main powerboat segments.
“The pontoon boat market has seen double-digit percentage growth in recent years, and the two brands produced here are growing faster than the market,” Brunswick chairman and CEO Dusty McCoy said when the company announced the move. “It’s a credit to our hard-working employees, dedicated dealers and the strong supplier base that we have in place here.”
Brad Anderson, who headed the pontoon brands before landing in his new role as vice president of marketing and planning for the Bayliner, Meridian and Sea Ray brands, said in June that Harris FloteBote had nearly tripled its business between 2009 and 2012.