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 warmer weather arrives, it’s time to head to the water. Whether you enjoy cruising along the river or floating around the lake, spending time on a boat is a great way to spend the summer. Don’t have a boat yet? Then we’re here to help you find the right pontoon boat for your summer fun.
Pontoon boats are a popular selection for many people. These boats have aluminum tubes, called “pontoons,” attached to flat decks, giving them the buoyancy needed to stay afloat. What many people don’t realize is the variety of models available. From a basic model for trips with small groups of friends and family, to luxury pontoons with all the bells and whistles, there is a pontoon that will meet your needs. There are even models designed specifically for a day on the lake fishing with your close friends.
Are you interested in learning more about the different types of pontoon boats available? Continue reading, or download the infographic below. You’ll learn more about what makes each type unique.
Types of Pontoon Boats
Don’t need a whole lot of boat, but still want a lot of fun? A value pontoon is for you. These no-frills boats—usually 18 feet or less—are perfect for you and a few of your closest friends. A smaller boat is also ideal for those who don’t require as much storage space.
Yearning for a day of fishing on the lake? An angler pontoon boat is for you. Angler models usually include rod holders, swivel chairs, and live wells. With plenty of space to move around the boat, pontoons are great for taking kids and individuals with mobility restrictions out on the water.
Want to be on the lake, but also host a BBQ? A leisure pontoon boat is for you. Leisure models come with features such as grills, sinks, and foldout picnic tables. Throw some patties on the grill—leisure pontoons are for those who really know how to do summer.
Love the finer things in life? A luxury pontoon boat is for you. To live in the lap of luxury, it’s all about the amenities. We’re talking high-tech audio systems, bar stools, LED track and seat lighting, and high-end seat cushions. Often, luxury pontoons have highly customizable floor plans to fit your lifestyle out on the lake.
Feel the need for speed? A performance pontoon is for you. We’re talking about a 300 HP engine, accompanied by hydraulic power assist steering, for a wild ride with exceptional control. Think of a performance model as a speed boat with roomy, ultra-comfortable seating.
If you’re considering a Manitou, you’ll find that many of our models often combine the best features of the different types listed here. More than that, you can build your own pontoon boat right on our website. First, check out all the options in our buying guide.
This article was updated with links and more information on 6/20/2018.
There is nothing better than spending a day on your pontoon boat. But as you may know, it can be very stressful if you don’t properly plan your excursion. Imagine a day on your boat where you visit the same area and do the same activities as the time before, more for lack of imagination than because of the fun quotient. Not to mention the chaos that can ensue if there isn’t enough food, water, or sunscreen for everyone in the party!
Aside from the “dos” and “do nots” for planning a day on the water, there are numerous fun ideas you and your family can try:
- Explore: Instead of visiting the same place every time, mix it up and boldly go where you haven’t been before.
- BBQ: If your pontoon boat has a grill on it, why not enjoy a beach BBQ?
- Scavenger Hunt: Invent a scavenger hunt where you stop at various places and solve clues. Will there be buried treasure at the end?
- Mega Raft: If your friends all have pontoon boats, tie up all the boats together and make a mega raft.
- Waterproof Camera: There is no better way to capture the day and take some memorable underwater photos.
Remember proper and creative planning, and you are sure to have an exciting day on the water. Keep reading or download our infographic below for more tips for family fun on the water.
Involve Your Kids from the Beginning
Kids want to be included, and giving them small tasks can be rewarding for them. These can be little things, like making sure everyone has their life jacket on, or looking for wildlife.
Plan Activities for Your Boating Adventure
Boat trips work best when there are planned activities for you and your family. These will prevent everyone from getting bored.
Bring the Sunscreen
Water can reflect the sun’s rays and amplify them. Make sure to apply sunscreen throughout the day, and spend time in the shade. It’s better than spending an evening tenderly applying aloe.
Bring Snacks and Drinks
Drinking water throughout the day, especially when it’s hot, can prevent dehydration and other heat injuries. Also, a day on the water can pass by quickly, and kids will become hungry. Bringing food with you means more time on water, instead of heading back sooner than you want.
Teach Nautical Terms and Rules
Since you’re on a boat, it’s an opportune time to teach your kids about nautical terms and science facts—everything from which side is starboard, to nautical safety rules, to why the tides go in and out.
The Do Nots
Do Not Leave the Dock without Life Jackets
Aside from obeying child life jacket requirements, there’s always a possibility that little ones can fall off the boat accidentally. It’s important to keep them safe.
Do Not Sail All Day
If you’re planning a longer trip, try to mix it up so you’re not on the water all day. Even if it’s docking or going to a beach for 30 minutes, let the kids run around.
Do Not Ignore Safety
Don’t let your kids stand or walk around while the boat is moving. Pontoon boats can be very safe, but you can never be too careful.
Do Not Trash the Beach
Littering on your excursion to the beach isn’t just rude, but it can hurt environment. When you see floating trash on the open water, pick it up.
Do Not Bring the Whole Neighborhood
Pontoon boats have a set number of people who can safely travel on the boat. Don’t go over that number.
Spending a day on the water can be exciting for everyone aboard, but taking time to plan ahead can make all the difference for creating a successful and memorable family experience.
This article was updated with links and more information on 6/20/2018.
Just like in your home, you should implement an emergency preparedness plan on your boat. Regardless of where you boat you should always identify potential threats. Then evaluate what types of resources you will need if any emergency arises. Your needs will vary based on the type of boating you do and the distance from shore that you travel. You should also develop an emergency plan and keep a kit with appropriate items on your boat at all times.
You should always check the weather before planning a day on your boat. Conditions on the water can become dangerous during even small weather events. Weather is also quick to change over the water, it is important to stay aware and return to shore before conditions get severe. Wind, rain, thunderstorms, hurricanes and tsunamis are all potential threats when on the water. Look into what threats your area is susceptible to and how to prepare for them on the CDC website.
Hurricanes and severe storms are usually easy to track. By checking the weather forecast ahead of time you can avoid these types of conditions. If a hurricane is expected you should get your boat to a proper storage facility well beforehand and evacuate the area.
Tsunamis are a succession of oversized waves that occur after the displacement of large amounts of water. They can occur with or without warning, however, a common cause of tsunamis are earthquakes. If you are on the water and notice the trees on shore shaking and other telltale signs of an earthquake, you should evaluate your best course of action. Tsunami waves only break close to shore, if you are in deep water far from the shore, you may not have any indication of the tsunami waves moving underneath you. Become familiar with the protocols for tsunamis and look at the International Tsunami Information Center’s information on what to do while on a boat if there is a tsunami warning.
A good skipper always prepares for the worst and hopes for the best. When preparing you should make a list of general items, but also include things that are specific to your family and their needs. An emergency kit is not one-size fits all, things like asthma inhalers, allergen free foods and insulin are all things that should be considered when preparing. The following are less specific items that any good boat emergency kit should contain.
- NOAA Weather Radio- Keeping track of the forecast and any emergency broadcasts can help you avoid severe weather.
- Clean water- Salt or lake water are not going to be sufficient if you are stranded and need to stay hydrated.
- Food and a way to prepare it- Store foods that are high in protein and nutritious. Having a heat source if not only good to keep you warm but also for preparing any foods that need to be warmed.
- Extra clothing- Extra layers and dry clothes to change into from your wet ones are good to keep on board.
- Shelter- Shelter from the sun and rain are both important. Many boats have built in shelters, but a tarp or sheet can easily be used as a makeshift shelter.
- First aid kit- For anything from bumps and bruises to broken bones, bug bites and open wounds.
- Paddle- In case you encounter engine troubles it is good to have an alternate form of propulsion.
- Something to bail out water- If it rains hard enough your boat might not be able to keep up with pumping water out of the boat. Having a bucket or two to help bail it out can save your boat from capsizing.
- Tools- Spare tools and parts for your boat can become vital if you encounter mechanical problems while in the water.
- Lighting- Not only to help you see but to help others see you in hazy conditions.
- Compass and map- GPS devices are great but having a backup plan with a map and compass will always be a good idea. Ensure that you know how to use them.
- Duct tape- Duct tape can be utilized in so many different ways, it’s always good to have a on your boat because of its versatility.
Not only should you have a plan and the proper emergency items, but you should also take a class or research about emergency procedures. Things like first aid and boat repair techniques can make the difference between life and death. Having the items is pointless if you don’t know how to use them, there are plenty of resources online to review and learn from.
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.