Expansion keeps elite boat maker in Lansing


Manitou Pontoon Boats is expanding to a new location in Lansing. Photo taken 8/7/2014 by Greg DeRuiter(Photo: Greg DeRuiter)

There’s a “what might’ve been” in the success story of Triton Industries.

In 2011, demand was growing for its high-end Manitou pontoons. Triton’s Delta Township facility was too small, and President Scott VanWagenen said the company was hesitant to break the team into two shifts.

“We couldn’t stay where we were,” he said, stressing the difficult choice for the company founded in Lansing in 1985. Pressure to move near suppliers in Indiana and 2016 designs that couldn’t be produced in the old facility “brought us to our knees.”

But then a facility went on the market in Watertown Township in spring 2014. With the help of Michigan Economic Development Corp. and Lansing Economic Area Partnership and grants that brought sewer lines to the building, the $6 million, 160,000-square-foot facility became Manitou’s home in August. It’s two-and-a-half times larger than the former location; the workforce expanded from 70 to 95. Within the next 16 months, VanWagenen expects to hire 15 more. Manitou’s growth has earned it recognition from the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“It was so important for us to stay here,” he said.

What’s kept Manitou strong?

Scott VanWagenen (Photo: Courtesy photo)

I’m so passionate about my people. And all my employees were hired locally. I have quite a few people who’ve been with me for 30 years. Our vice president of operations, Dave Curtis, invented the V-Toon (which accelerates and maneuvers like a V-hull boat). He started in 1986 or ’87 as a welder right out of Grand Ledge High School. You have to be proud of people like that.

What is Manitou celebrating about 2015 and what’s next in 2016?

Every year our people come with new designs that are different from anything else. (Designers) just keep coming up with things that blow my mind. Our 2016 year started in August, and our sales are up and our unit orders are up close to 20 percent over last year — and now we have the space to build those.

Why do you love working at Manitou?

I see the passion that our people have for the product, the pride they take in the product, the innovation they bring the product. I just brought these people together and let them spread their wings and they’ve done a tremendous job of it.

Erin F. Wasinger, for the Lansing State Journal

Pontoon Boat Safety Tips


As the winter begins to fade in the rearview mirror and summer approaches, now is the perfect time to brush up on safety tips for your pontoon boat. It is important to make safety your top priority so that you can enjoy your time out on the water and ensure that everyone onboard is risk free. Make sure to have an ample amount of life jackets on your pontoon, because more than 80 percent of people who die in boating accidents are drowning victims.

Don’t forget that it is illegal to operate your pontoon while under the influence, and keeping your attention on the water and other boats is essential. In California, alone, more than 50 percent of boating accidents occur when one boat crashes into another. Here are some other important safety tips:

  • Make sure passengers are seated and wearing proper safety gear before leaving the dock.
  • Use the anchor when you want to remain stationary.
  • Avoid excessive speed and sharp turns.

These tips and other will help you stay safe out on the water when enjoying your pontoon.

How to Turn Your Pontoon Boat into the Ultimate Summer Retreat


Now that summer has officially started, it is time to get your pontoon boat back into the water. When the temperature creeps up, there is no better way to spend time with family and friends than by making your pontoon the ultimate summer retreat. You’ll have the perfect weather for tubing, wakeboarding, water skiing, and more, so make sure that you have everything you need to rule the water this summer.

In terms of water sports, you’ll need a pontoon boat with an engine that can get speeds up to 26 mph. A 90-HP engine is a good start, while having 115 HP gives you a little extra. Interested in lounging on your pontoon all day, instead? Start by having the ultimate cookout at home and bringing a picnic aboard the boat, complete with sandwiches, burgers, salads, and drinks. Decorating your pontoon with themed accessories is the perfect way to throw the ultimate floating party.

For adults and children alike, ensure that you have plenty of life vests, and that everyone is aware of boating safety guidelines before you leave the dock. Remember to obey all laws and regulations concerning boating; doing so will allow you to turn your pontoon boat into the one-stop place for fun this summer.

The Ultimate Pontoon Boat Safety Checklist


Taking your pontoon boat out on the water is one of the best ways to spend your time during the summer. There is nothing better than relaxing with friends and family while beating the heat on your pontoon. However, it is also important to ensure that everyone aboard remains safe so that you can avoid accidents and injuries. Last year alone there were over 4,000 recreational boating accidents, with a total of 610 deaths, including 97 injuries aboard pontoons. These happened due to a number of reasons, including alcohol, speeding, and negligence.

In order to avoid accidents and injuries, be sure to compile a safety checklist that includes all of the equipment you need in case of emergency. Ensure your pontoon has a fire extinguisher, ring buoy, and first aid kit so that you are prepared. In addition, perform routine maintenance on your pontoon so that the engine, navigation lights, and other systems run smoothly. Before you next take out your boat, consider compiling a safety kit that includes items such as a pocket knife, radio, battery charger, and more.

Manitou Pontoon Boats Signs 9 New Dealers for the 2016 Model Year

Manitou Pontoon Boats Signs 9 New Dealers for the 2016 Model Year

Lansing, MI November 10, 2015 — With the addition of 9 new dealers since August, Manitou Pontoon Boats is proud to have quality representation in several key new markets. The following dealers will now carry Manitou Pontoon Boats for the 2016 model year:

  • Echo Bay Marina, Brookfield, CT
  • Stuckey & Grimes Xtreme Marine, Hot Springs, AR and Sherwood, AR
  • Waterfront Marine, Somers Point, NJ
  • Marine Blue, Canandaigua, NY
  • Bi State Marine, Erie, MI
  • Indian Hills Marina, Bernice, OK
  • Bayside Marina, Moneta, VA
  • Trexlers Marina Union, MI
  • Liberty Marine Center, Grayslake IL

“As we grow and expand our product offering, filling in open territories is key to sustained success” said Sales Manager Russ Hafner. “The Manitou brand is strengthening every day, much of this is due to our patented V-Toon technology hull that provides customers the best pontoon handling on the water” This latest dealer expansion comes on the heels of Manitou’s relocation to their new manufacturing facility in Lansing, MI. “The new facility is 3 times the size of our previous plant and gives us plenty of room to increase production and meet the demands of our growing dealer network” Hafner said. “We have a lot of positive momentum and are actively recruiting dealers in many markets, especially the southeast and southwest of the country” If you’re interested in learning how Manitou can fit into your dealership, please contact the Regional Sales Manager for your area.

Jason Thusius – thusius@sbcglobal.net – IA, WI, Eastern MN, Northern IL, KS, NE
Bill Anderson – billa311@live.com – AZ, NV, CA, WA, ID, CO, NM, WY, UT, OR, MT
James Swant – jswant4309@aol.com – MO, Southern IL, KY, IN, WV, OH
Vern Nelson – vnelson1234@aol.com – Western Canada, Western MN, ND, SD
Brian Furst – bfurstboatmanitou@gmail.com – FL, GA, AL, MS, TN
John Carter – john@johncartersales.com – NC, SC, VA
Greg Matyniak – gmmarineservices@yahoo.com – MI
Sam Farstead – sfarstead@gmail.com – TX, LA, AR, OK
Steve Bosley – sbosley24@gmail.com – PA, NY, NJ, RI, NH, ME, MD, DE, MA, CT, VT, Ontario

Manitou Sweeps Race for Third Consecutive Year

Bloomington, IN — For the third consecutive year, Manitou Pontoon Boats finished first in all three outboard motor categories in Pontoon and Deck Boat Magazine’s McKainer Pontoon Barrel Race. This year the annual event took place in Bloomington, IN. The race showcases the speed and maneuverability of the top pontoon boats on the market. 12 brands of pontoon boats participated in this year’s PDB Days and Roundup.

The three outboard motor categories of the Barrel Race included: Pontoons with outboard power of up to 150hp, pontoons with outboard power from 175-200hp and pontoons with outboard power of 225hp and more. One notable entry was a Sylvan pontoon with twin 250 HP Yamaha engines. After everyone ran the course Manitou’s 23 Encore RF SHP with an Evinrude 250 HO gen 2 finished 5 seconds ahead of the next closest boat, the twin outboard Sylvan. Once again this demonstrates that simply adding more horsepower to a pontoon is no match for a superior hull design. Interestingly the 21 Oasis SHP with a 200 G2 HO would have also beaten the Sylvan by roughly 2 seconds.

“To witness these results year after year is a testament to the superior design and unrivaled efficiency of our V-Toon® Hull” remarked company President Steven VanWagenen.

Manitou Cleans Up!

For More Information on Pontoon and Deck Boat Magazine Visit: http://www.pdbmagazine.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/PDBMagazine.

For More Information on Evinrude Outboards Visit: http://www.evinrude.com/en-us and https://www.facebook.com/BRPEvinrude?fref=ts.

Manitou Receives CSI Award: 14 for 14 and Counting

LANSING, Michigan. “Manitou Boats is pleased to announce that
they are once again a recipient of a Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) Award
from the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) for exceptional
customer service. The 2015 Marine Industry CSI Award in the Pontoon Boats
category marks the 14th consecutive CSI awarded to Manitou Boats.

The NMMA, the nation’s leading boating trade association,
represents a wide range of businesses in the marine industry. They recognize
manufacturers that actively monitor and measure customer satisfaction levels
and then take actions to further improve customer satisfaction. The CSI Awards
only recognize boating manufacturers that maintain an independently measured
standard of excellence of 90 percent or higher in customer satisfaction.

“Qualifying for the 14th consecutive year for this award is
an honor. I believe our cutting edge product offering, lifelong employee base,
loyal service oriented dealers and happy customer base are what make receiving
this award possible,” said Scott VanWagenen, President of Manitou Boats.

Manitou Boats understands that connecting with its customers to
identify their personal needs for their pontoon boats is essential to provide
them with the best customer service experience possible. We use this
information to more accurately grade a customer’s opinion of their new pontoon
boat, and improve customer satisfaction over time

Manitou Launches Revolutionary Fiberglass Pontoon Boat

They say patience is a virtue. So is tenacity, relentless research, and breakthrough thinking.

The new X-Plode XT and Legacy LT were years in the making. 30 years, in fact, as Manitou Boats, already lauded for remarkable innovation in its existing line of pontoon boats, celebrates an anniversary by introducing these two game-changers.  
The difference? Fiberglass. In these new boats, everything from the deck up is crafted of it. And its been done without adding significant weight, ensuring that the performance boaters have come to expect from Manitou is not compromised.
When we started 30 years ago, I never dreamed the pontoon boat would evolve to the point weve reached today, remarked Scott VanWagenen, President of Manitou. Now, with our new LT and XT offerings, we have pushed the envelope even further, totally blurring the line between pontoons and runabouts.
Crafting pontoon boats designed to deliver the performance of boats with traditional hulls is what sets Manitou apart.
Weve always believed that our customers shouldnt have to compromise, VanWagenen explained. These new boats are further proof of that.
Like in a speedboat, the deck furniture in the X-Plode XT (sport model) and the Legacy LT (luxury model) is fully integrated into the fiberglass. The XT is available with a Titanium or Platinum fiberglass base and customers can choose from four different graphics and furniture packages. The LT is offered with fiberglass bases of Titanium, Light Taupe, or Light Tan, along with three different graphics and furniture floorplans. A custom clear coat is applied to every boat both models are available in 23 and 25 lengths.
Along with high-end finishes, there is a focus on enhanced functionality. A Murphy Screen provides digital readouts and remote access control of the wake tower. The fiberglass side gate has a friction hinge, allowing it to stay open at any angle instead of automatically shutting like traditional gates. Every layout utilizes space efficiently. 
We cant wait to see people out in these new boats, VanWagenen added. Thats what we love doing — helping people enjoy a great day on the water.

Manitou is Moving

Triton Industries will relocate its manufacturing facility from Delta Township to Lansing.

The maker of Manitou Pontoon Boats will move later this month into a 141,700 square-foot facility at 16020 Lowell Road, a space nearly triple the size of its existing facility, according to a press release from CBRE Martin, which handled the sale.

“There’s been a big uptick in certain segments of the marine market like jet skis and pontoons,” said Scott Van Wagenen, company president. “A lot more people are spending money on boats now.”

Van Wagenen said revenues are up 60 percent from 2007, which was the company’s best year before the recession hit.

In the next two years, Manitou expects to add 40 jobs because of growing demand, he said.

Triton purchased the facility, which sits on 10 acres of land, from Wolverton Industries in June. Manitou will shut down operations at its current plant at 7800 Northport Drive in Delta Township this month while it moves to the new facility.

Operations will resume on Sept. 8.

Triton has been headquartered in the Lansing area since 1985. It moved to the Delta Township location in 1995. That facility is now for sale.