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.”
Today we shot our new SES floorplans at a studio in Auburn Hills, MI. The new floorplans were launched in late December, making it difficult to get outdoor pictures in Michigan. By using the studio, we avoided the weather and were able to shoot each floorplan by plugging components in and out of the boat as we shot them.
We’re excited to announce new dealers for the 2013 year. Below is the list of who we have signed so far, including our first ever dealers in Quebec and Manitoba.
|The Nautic Group||625 Hwy. 146||Kemah||TX||77565||U.S.A.||281-334-2628||www.nauticgroup.com|
|Country Corner Marine||1199 River Hwy.||Moorseville||NC||28117||U.S.A.||704-664-1134||www.countrycornermarine.com|
|Rockingham Marina||635 Rockingham Rd.||Johnson City||TN||37615||U.S.A.||423-408-3215||www.rockinghammarina.com|
|Koopers Cars and Marine||10538 E M-89||Richland||MI||49083||U.S.A.||269-629-4979||www.kooperscarsmarine.com|
|Tailwalker Marine||2903 Highmarket St.||Georgetown||SC||29440||U.S.A.||843-527-2495||www.tailwalkermarine.com|
|Breezy Boat City||2816 Gulf Breeze Pkwy.||Gulf Breeze||FL||32563||U.S.A.||850-934-6010||www.breezyboatcity.com|
|Kentuckiana Yacht Sales||5888 Hwy. 641 N.||Gilbertsville||KY||42044||U.S.A.||270-703-1461||www.kentuckianayacht.com/|
|Enns Brothers||925 Lagimodiere Blvd.||Winnipeg||MB||R2J 3K4||CANADA||204-475-3667||www.ennsbros.com|
|Elitech Sport Evasion||1200 De La Gabelle||St. Etienne Des Gres||QU||GOX 2PO||CANADA||819-691-1773||www.elitechsportevasion.com|
As far back as Gavin Smith can remember, he used to sneak in his dad’s closet to borrow his professional camera. Putting his own film inside, he’d shoot a series of pictures and then carefully replace his dad’s roll of film. Eventually, he learned to use the camera better than his dad.
In high school, Gavin took art and photography classes. In college, he focused on video production and worked in that area for 12 to 15 years while still doing photography on the side.
Then, when digital cameras were introduced, he purchased all new equipment and started shooting more part-time weekend jobs, and people loved his photos.
“Within a year of digital being around I stopped doing video and started doing photography full time,” he said.
Ultimately, he calls it a hobby gone awry.
We recently came across this infographic about 2012 presidential campaign spending as well as the costs of other campaigns in history. Would you believe $2 billion was spent on both Obama and Romney? Few can even imagine what $2 billion could buy, and that got us thinking…
What if boaters were donors? What could $2 billion buy in boating-related supplies? Here are our rough estimates.
13.3 million fishing rods
A pontoon boat is great for fishing, family outings and parties. No longer looking as if they were built for your grandpa and his fishing buddies, today’s pontoon boats offer smooth rides and sleek finishes. The purchase of such a boat can be a significant recreational investment, but make sure you know all about pontoon boats before you buy. Use the following to help you make an informed decision:
Continue reading “ALL ABOUT PONTOON BOATS: FOUR QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE YOU BUY”
The following post actually comes from our friend Bryan Hermann from www.ezfender.com, who shared this tale of tube polishing and protecting on the Pontoon Forums website, and it was so detailed we figured we’d share. Thanks Bryan!
For those who are interested in polishing and protecting the tubes on your pontoon boat, here is a list of materials and step by step process to make your tubes shine like a mirror.
Start out getting the right tools and supplies.
I bought 2 quarts of Sharkhide Protectant http://www.sharkhide.com/index.html, 2 quarts of Cleaner and 1 can of polish. This ended up being more than enough to do 2 boats, actually.
I used my 8″ 3000 to 8000 RPM Sander/ Polisher and 5 buffing pads
-1 gallon of Lacquer thinner
-About 2 dozen old cotton rags and 1 roll of paper towels
-600 and 1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper to sand out scratches
-1 brass chisel and a small dead blow hammer to knock of welding slag.
-Masking tape, I used 2″ wide
-Plastic to cover the trailer
1. Start out by removing any prior protectant by washing the pontoons off with lacquer thinner poured into a rag. If any protectant is on, you’ll see it dissolve. Get it all off, or the Cleaner won’t attack the aluminum, which is what you want it to do.
2. Next, when drying the pontoon off you can feel any slag which was splattered on the pontoon during the welding process. Remove this with a soft tap on a chisel with a hammer I could even just use my hand in most cases. Wet sand the rest off and any scratches you want to remove. In my case, it was the bad scratches down the center of my pontoons from the previous owners docking technique. I don’t think he had one!
3. Dry again. Then tape of all areas you are not going to treat and cover the trailer with plastic sheeting to protect them from the acid and polishing compound.
4. Get ready to clean…Dilute the Sharkhide Cleaner to strength needed. I diluted mine 3 parts water to 1 part cleaner in a garden sprayer or spray bottle. Spray on the cleaner, evenly, let it foam up. After about 3 minutes of working time, I rinsed it off with water. This left behind a nice white finish that will let the polishing compound do its job more easily.
5. Polish time! Working in about a 3 foot section, I started at the top of the pontoon and worked my way down in an S shape to the masking tape line at the trailer bunk. Clean excess compound from the pad when it builds up and starts to bite hard. Add more compound to the pontoon when it seems like it does not bite any more. You want it to bite into the aluminum to work properly. Clean the pontoon as you finish up each section with lacquer thinner. Go to the next section and repeat all the steps until you are done with that pontoon.
6. After the polishing is complete, wash the pontoon off with lacquer thinner to remove all residue left from the compound. Make sure you remove it all. Use white rags or paper towels and clean until you get no black residue on the rags. If the tube is not completely free of residue the Sharkhide will not stick to the aluminum.
7. After you are done, it is time to apply the Protectant. It does not take much! Use a clean rag and fold it to the size of your palm. Pour a little Protectant to the front of the rag and wipe it on the tube in 6 foot sections. I found that working in a right to left motion from top to bottom worked the best for me. I did miss a few small spots, but after the first coat cures, in about 24 to 36 hours, you apply the 2nd coat; you can catch all the spots, missed. Don’t try to apply to missed spots when it is still wet, it will dissolve the first application and look splotchy. After the second coat is on, you can either stop there or apply a third.
If anyone has any questions or comments, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Love that pontoon of yours?
We know many of you out there maintain a blog or website of your own and often times you like to share stories about your fishing or water sports adventures on your Manitou Pontoon. So if you fall into this category, we figured we’d give you a couple of cool badges you can share on your blog or website, or even on Facebook or Pinterest if you’re so inclined. Like what you see? Just copy and paste the code into your html editor to add it to your own site!
Copy this code to add this to your own site:
Copy this code to add this to your own site:
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There have been many changes to our pontoons, and pontoons in general since we first began building pontoons more than 25 years ago. The graphic below lays out some of the more significant changes to various Manitou models over the years. Feel free to share this with your friends or share your thoughts in the comments below.
Just copy and paste the code below into your html editor to add this to your site.
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. Continue reading “Dealer Meeting Preparation”