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Reggie Fountain talks about Chapter 11 filing

Fountain Powerboat Industries chairman and CEO Reggie Fountain was upbeat this morning as he talked about the plan to bring his company through Chapter 11 reorganization and to continue to build the boats that have borne his name since 1979.

"I always like to be positive; my glass is always half-full, not half-empty," he told Soundings Trade Only.

Fountain, who currently owns 52 percent of the company's stock, said he's now in talks with nine potential investor groups and hopes to find a buyer soon.

"We feel pretty sure one of the lucky ones will team up with us here, and we'll move forward in the next 30 years, just as we have in the past 30," he said.

"I'll probably own very little, if any, of the stock in the new company, but I'm hoping I'll continue to work for them," Fountain added. "That seems to be what they all want me to do, since I started this up, engineered it up and sold it for the last 30 years - over $1 billion worth of boats."

The company could emerge from Chapter 11 by the end of September, he said.

Fountain currently has about 40 employees, though that will be down to about 12 by next week. Just three years ago, when Fountain did $79 million in business, the company had about 450 employees.

"I hope we're going to bring them all back," he said. "Whether it's going to be six months or three or four years, I don't know. That's the saddest thing about the whole deal to me."

Fountain said his biggest mistake over the years was not putting aside money "for a rainy day," but instead reinvesting it in the company.

He predicted a different boat business, in general, when the recession ends.

"I think we all got away from reality. Everybody was building all they could build and sending them into the field, and finance companies were financing them and then all this stuff happens," he said.

Still, he said, many companies have filed for Chapter 11 and come out of it on the other side.

"We're following suit with what everyone else is doing," Fountain said, citing General Motors, Chrysler and Genmar. "I might as well get in on that deal."

"I'm looking around for good, strong partners. With enough good people to form a good team, I think you can make it through, and I think that's what's going to have to happen all throughout the marine industry."

- Beth Rosenberg



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