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.”
When many people think of pontoon boats, they see a wooden platform stabilized on wooden or steel barrels. While these were definitely the start of pontoons decades ago, the technology has advanced to give people a faster, smoother, and more luxurious experience out on the water. Nowadays, pontoon boats are made entirely with fiberglass to reduce weight without sacrificing stability. Like in other types of boats, pontoons now have traditional hulls to help with steering, and furniture built into the fiberglass to maximize space and efficiency.
Luxury pontoon boats are growing in popularity because they allow families to take part in all of the activities they want. In addition to fishing, you are able to use your pontoon boat for entertainment and watersports. Newer models come equipped with fire pits, cooler space, a barbecue grill, and even a waterslide. Rather than having to slowly float on the water, a 300-horsepower engine allows you to travel up to 65 mph. Learn more about how pontoon boats are redefining boating today.
What makes a great pontoon boat? If you are looking for a new boat to buy, or want to upgrade your existing pontoon, there are a number of features to incorporate to ensure that you have everything you need when you next go out on the water. Here are some features that make Manitou pontoon boats stand out from the competition.
- 24-can cooler on board
- Portable table to relax
- Marine Vinyl furniture
- Powder coated walls and rails
When picking out a pontoon boat, you want to be able to infuse your personality, as well. You can add on a BBQ grill for your pontoon, to cook for family and friends, as well as a water slide. If you’re interested in floating out on the lake in the evenings, you can also add a fire pit to keep warm. One of the best reasons to get a pontoon boat in the first place is that it gives you the opportunity to do the things you love whenever you are out on the water.
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.
Video courtesy of www.crappienation.net.
As soon as the cold weather starts to lift and the snow begins to melt, it is the perfect time to take your pontoon back out on the water where it is meant to be. However, it is important to first make sure that you have done everything you need to de-winterize your pontoon in order to ensure that it is in prime shape once spring rolls around. When preparing your pontoon to get back into the water after winter, be sure to give it a thorough inspection.
In addition to checking the oil and flushing the cooling system, check all aspects of the motor and fuel line for any cracks or other damage. This way you will be able to get any necessary repairs completed beforehand to avoid causing further harm to the engine and boat. Spark plugs, shifters, and safety mechanisms should also be closely inspected for wear and tear.
Being thorough with your pontoon will allow you to get ready for spring so that you do not miss a single day out on the water when the time comes. Make your checklist now to start preparing.
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Now that the winter is rapidly approaching, it is time to take the necessary steps to winterize your pontoon and ensure that your boat is in top shape when you get ready to take it back out on the water. Although it sounds like a no-brainer, the first thing you’ll need to do is secure a location for your boat out of the water.
If you decide to keep your boat in the water, keep in mind that you may notice decreased performance due to the colder water. Be sure to check your battery and fluids to ensure that they are clean before putting the boat away for the winter. Other steps to take when winterizing your pontoon include:
- Replace the oil and oil filters before storing.
- Drain all coolant and water, and replace with antifreeze.
- Remove all valuables so they are not damaged or stolen.
- Clean your pontoon inside and out.
The most vital step in protecting your pontoon this winter is to choose the right cover. Whether you store it inside or outside, having the perfect cover is essential. Once you have completed these steps, you will be able to keep your pontoon secure and protected throughout the winter.
Fun in the Sun
Summer is here and that means months of fun. Since the summer heat doesn’t last for long, it’s important to make the most of your summer. The best place to do this is on the lake. If you live on or near a body of water, here are a few things you can do to have a summer full of fun.
One of the funnest activities to do on the lake is go water tubing. People of all ages can enjoy this activity since it does not require much skill or ability. This is a great activity to do with larger groups since more than one person can get on the water tube.
Boating is another lake activity that can make your summer complete. Pontoon boats especially are great for relaxing days on the lake. You can usually fit a lot of friends and family comfortably. Also, if you get warm while on your boat, you can take a quick dip in the lake since pontoon boats are easy to get in and out of. And if you own a pontoon boat, there are tons of accessories you can add to make your boat customized to your liking.
Summer is a great season because your days can be filled with fun in the sun. One of the most relaxing and enjoyable things to do during the summer months is to spend a day at the lake. There’s nothing quite like sitting back and enjoying a sunny afternoon cruising around.
If this sounds like something you’d like to do this summer, you need to be prepared. When you’re out on the boat, you’re probably going to be away from shore for a few hours. Because of this, it’s important to pack different items to make your time more enjoyable.
There are many things you can bring with you for your day at the lake. Some of the most important things to pack include the right clothing and toiletries. By bringing these necessary items, you’ll be more comfortable during your outing. Additionally, you’ll also want to pack the essential electronics such as cell phone, radio and GPS. These electronics will help you have a safe day on the lake. Don’t forget to include those “fun” items, including any games, food, and drink you think you’ll need.
What else should you pack for your day at the lake? The following infographic lists some of the most essential items you should pack for your outing.
Purchasing a new pontoon boat is a big lifetime event. Yes it might take a lot out of your bank account, but it will also provide years of enjoyment and memories while out on the water with friends and family. The boating industry has gotten much better in the past decade, and has plenty of more options are now on the market. Here are a few great options for you to consider in this upcoming boating year. Continue reading “Buying a Pontoon Boat? Here are your Choices”