I can’t tell you how many times I have met someone and started a conversation about work. They find out that I work for a company that builds pontoon boats, and 9 times out of 10, the first words out of their mouth are “that must be really fun” or “oh you get to ride around on boats all day”. While that is partially true, there are many stressful stretches at this job just like most others.
One of the busiest and most exciting times of year for a boat builder is the annual dealer meeting. During this two or three day event, Manitou dealers and many perspective dealers from around the USA and Canada will travel to our facility in Lansing, Michigan to view the new model year boats and place their orders for the next season. The preparation for this event is quite intense and not for the faint of heart. This can be further complicated by incorporating many changes to the boats. This year just happens to be one of those years. Pontoon boats, almost more than any other fresh water vessel, have undergone drastic changes in the last decade, and because of their increasing popularity, there does not appear to be an end in sight.
One of the most time consuming and difficult changes, as we are now finding out, is transforming your wall designs into the now sheik outside tubing with sweeping rails and uniquely shaped extrusions. What on the surface appears to be a relatively easy transition is anything but when it comes to the manufacturing process. New tooling, new die benders and a new way of building the walls is just the beginning. The suppliers of these materials have felt the pinch from the economic downturn a few years back and are struggling to re-hire employees, train them and ramp up production to meet the increased demand. Although the planning for these changes started nearly 7 months ago only so much can be planned for until the time comes to build the first new walls.
We are roughly 1.5 weeks from our dealer meeting, and the scramble is on. Of course, all of these challenges and hurdles just make the finished product and all the hard work it entailed that much sweeter. As always, Manitou will not only change the wall design to compete with our competitors who have already incorporated this look, we will add our own unique elements to it.