Manitou Expands – Moving forward by moving in (Complete article can be read by scrolling to the bottom of the page)
Moving forward by moving in
By Brady L. Kay
Work smarter, not harder was the general idea behind the decision to relocate Triton Industries and the pontoon manufacturing plant to a larger building after years of working in a tight 50,000-square-foot building while still producing beautiful boats. In 2011, demand was growing for its high-end Manitou pontoons and the Delta Township facility in Michigan could no longer keep the secret quiet, relocating was unavoidable.
President Scott VanWagenen was hesitant to break the team into two shifts and knew it was just a matter of time until they would be forced to move if they wanted the company to continue to grow.
“We couldn’t stay where we were,” recalls the Triton Industries president, stressing the difficult choice for the company that was founded in Lansing in 1985 and then relocated to the Delta Township building ten years later. There was also pressure to move near suppliers in Indiana and the sad reality was the innovative designs its R&D team was coming up with couldn’t be easily produced in their current facility at that time.
But then a building went on the market in nearby Watertown Township in the spring of 2014 and new hope was discovered. 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, 144,000-square-foot facility became Manitou’s home.
Triton Industries now owned the building and the 10 acres of land that came with it, but it wasn’t exactly turn key ready. The building previously owned by Wolverton Industries needed to be converted from a pet food distributor warehouse to an updated pontoon manufacturing plant and that wasn’t going to be easy.
“The biggest steps were electrical, like running the power we needed for all of the machinery and a fire suppression system, along with an access road all the way around the building for the fire department,” says Greg VanWagenen, the director of marketing and communications at Triton Industries. “Then air hoses, power lines, as well as a heavy modification to the offices that were in really bad shape. There hadn’t been a lot of upkeep over the years so we had problems with the roof, painting outside, plus adding offices inside the actual plant. It really looks like a new building now and some people might think that if they didn’t know the history of it.”
Today with a building that is over two-and-a-half times larger than the former location, the workforce has continued to expand and now includes a total of 118 employees. Manitou’s growth has not only earned it recognition from the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, but now quality pontoon boats are being built at a pace of around 40 a week.
“We’re doing on average two more boats in an eight hour day,” says Greg. “In our old building if we were averaging six boats a day we’d be occasionally staying late or working Saturdays and almost all of that was due to the space and the constraints the old building gave us. One of the biggest advantages is our finishing and quality control with the lighting and being able to see any issues with the boats and being able to check them off at the end. If something is wrong we’re able to push the boat aside and wait until we can fix it and get it out the door, where before if one boat stopped it stopped all the boats in the production line because we didn’t have the room to juggle things around.”
Part of the demand to have more pontoons built each week is credited to Russ Hafner, the company’s sales manager who according to Greg has done a great job getting reps in place and building its dealer network, “Russ has done a great job, especially in the Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas markets where we didn’t have a lot of representation before.”
Room For Innovation
Besides the overall expanded number of boats rolling off the assembly line each day, the new facility now makes it possible to further explore those innovative designs and features Manitou is best known for. In fact, according to Greg, the new X-Plode XT and Legacy LT models that were released last year with the fiberglass walls wouldn’t have been possible without their new building.
“The XT and LT models couldn’t have been developed and we could never offer something like a twin engine boat that we’ve started working on,” says the marketing director. “The R&D department now has the proper area to test and build new models and workout any kinks those models might have and we didn’t have that in our other building. There was no where to work on a single boat and bring it out and in to tweak things. It was a lot of work before and a lot of juggling.”
Intentional or not, news of the twin engine Manitou Legacy was now out, which had the PDB staff that was on hand for the facility tour asking the obvious question, “can we see this twin engine Manitou?”
As we walked into the R&D section of the building we were met by Dave Curtis, the vice president of operations and inventor of the V-Toon who had a big grin on his face. He was beyond excited to show us what he had been working on. Since joining the company back in the late 80s as a welder right out of high school, Dave has been the mastermind behind a lot of other key developments that help distinguish Manitou pontoon from its competitors.
Others in this area who have been instrumental in the development of the twin engine Manitou included R&D engineer Jon Miller as well as Tim Peters who is best known for his driving abilities as the official boat tester.
“Again, part of it is the space,” explained Greg as we walked around the prototype model. “We didn’t have the space we needed before to do some of the things we wanted to do and this twin engine model is something we really wanted to do.”
With room to now grow, the sky is once again the limit for Triton Industries. Looking back on all that Manitou was able to accomplish out of its old building, it’s kind of exciting to imagine what this Michigan-based manufacturer will come out with next.
“This building marks the beginning of a lot of new and fun things for Manitou,” concluded the Triton Industries president. “We’ve done a great job so far but really the future is ahead of us.”
Lansing, Michigan – Manitou Pontoon Boats is thrilled 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 2016 Marine Industry CSI Award in the Pontoon Boats category marks the 15th consecutive CSI awarded to Manitou Boats. This makes it every year since the awards inception.
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 15th consecutive year for this award is an honor. This is our 30th year of business; we would not be able to say that without happy customers. I believe our cutting edge products, lifelong employee base, loyal service oriented dealers and happy customers are what make receiving this award possible,” said Scott VanWagenen, President of Manitou Boats.
Manitou understands that connecting with its customers to identify their personal needs for their pontoon boats is essential to providing 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 to improve customer satisfaction moving forward.
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
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org – IA, WI, Eastern MN, Northern IL, KS, NE
Bill Anderson – email@example.com – AZ, NV, CA, WA, ID, CO, NM, WY, UT, OR, MT
James Swant – firstname.lastname@example.org – MO, Southern IL, KY, IN, WV, OH
Vern Nelson – email@example.com – Western Canada, Western MN, ND, SD
Brian Furst – firstname.lastname@example.org – FL, GA, AL, MS, TN
John Carter – email@example.com – NC, SC, VA
Greg Matyniak – firstname.lastname@example.org – MI
Sam Farstead – email@example.com – TX, LA, AR, OK
Steve Bosley – firstname.lastname@example.org – PA, NY, NJ, RI, NH, ME, MD, DE, MA, CT, VT, Ontario
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.
FIBERGLASS THAT PERFORMS — MANITOU WRITES ANOTHER NEW CHAPTER IN THE PONTOON BOAT CATEGORY
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 it’s 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 we’ve 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.
“We’ve always believed that our customers shouldn’t 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 can’t wait to see people out in these new boats,” VanWagenen added. “That’s what we love doing — helping people enjoy a great day on the water.”
LANSING – 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.