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Scout Boats adding manufacturing plant

Scout Boats, which unveiled this 355 LXF at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, is expanding its South Carolina campus for the second time in three years.

Scout Boats, which unveiled this 355 LXF at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, is expanding its South Carolina campus for the second time in three years.

Scout Boats Inc. began construction on a 120,000-square-foot plant — the latest expansion at its Summerville, S.C., facility.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday as the company began construction on Plant D, which will consist of 100,000 square feet of dedicated manufacturing space for the new 530 LXF model, set to debut in late 2018, along with 20,000 square feet dedicated to product development and engineering.

Production of the 420 LXF also will be moved to the plant, which Scout is investing $10.9 million to build.

Scout unveiled plans at the Miami International Boat Show in February to build the plant in order to build the 53-foot center console.

“Plant D will build the new 53 and something in between the 42 and the 53,” Scout founder and CEO Steve Potts told Trade Only Today on the docks in Miami.

He indicated the “something” could be a 46-footer, although Scout has not finalized plans for the 2018 model.

Scout plans to build a new 53-foot center console in the new facility and create space for the company’s research-and-development team.

Scout plans to build a new 53-foot center console in the new facility and create space for the company’s research-and-development team.

The company has three factories on its campus. The third was completed in 2015.

Scout builds boats from 17 to 25 feet in Plant A. Plant B is for building boats from 27 to 35 feet; Plant C is used to build the 38-footer and the 42-footer. Plant D is expected to be completed by the summer of 2018 and will bring the size of Scout’s campus to more than 350,000 square feet on nearly 40 acres.

Scout has been using a 10,000-square-foot space in one of its plants for research and development. “We do all our design in-house,” said Potts in February.

“We’re investing $10.9 million into this expansion, with plans to expand our skilled labor force by 370 over the next few years,” said Potts in a statement. “This expansion is necessary for the continued growing demand of our product and will be a state-of-the-art production facility for our new flagship model debuting next year. This expansion is important not only for our brand, but also for the surrounding Dorchester County community and the state of South Carolina as a whole.”

Finding workers will be challenging, Potts said in February, echoing the current sentiment of many U.S. boatbuilders. “Finding good talent is what governs our growth. We’re building what we can build, based on that. It’s maxed out,” Potts said.

The company works with vocational schools in nearby Charleston, holds job fairs and basically gets “as creative as possible,” said Potts. “Getting trained boatbuilders is nonexistent. We’re very structured with safety, attendance, and some builders are a little more lenient.”

The company pays well, he said, and fosters a sense of community, pride and ownership among employees. “My wife and I started Scout 26 years ago in our garage,” Potts said. “We go toe to toe with billion-dollar corporations. We are a unique company.”

The company has been having lots of success with its larger models, but its smaller ones also continue to do well, Potts said. “We’d love for our dealers to have inventory, but they don’t,” he said.

Most recently in Fort Lauderdale, Scout debuted the 355 LXF, a new 251 XSF with a new hull and a new 235 Center Console.

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