May 14, 2008
Marathon Boat Group plans expansion
Company is investing $400,000 to begin production this year of pontoon boats
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Dave Genter demonstrates a new automatic seam welder to weld a seam of a pontoon at Marathon Boat Company Monday afternoon. The company will begin making the pontoon-style boats later this summer.
MARATHON — The Marathon Boat Group is investing $400,000 in new equipment and building renovations to start producing pontoon boats.
The company expects to complete prototypes in July and begin manufacturing boats for sale in August.
The Cortland County Business Development Corp. Monday approved a loan up to $15,000 for the expansion, and Tuesday the county Budget and Finance Committee endorsed a $10,000 Grow Cortland grant for the company at 1 Grumman Way.
The full Legislature will vote on the grant at its May 22 meeting.
The rest of the investment will come from a bank loan, investment capital and possibly a New York State Empire State Development grant, Marathon Boat Group President Doug Potter said.
Pontoon boats are selling well nationwide, making up the strongest and most resilient segment of the aluminum watercraft market, Potter said.
The boats use less gas and appeal to an aging population, he said.
“If you’re water skiing or something, you’re going to be using more fuel than if you’re riding a pontoon boat,” he said. “You kind of just take them out for leisurely cruises with the family.
It’s not necessarily about seeing how fast you can go.”
Marathon Boat Group, which makes aluminum Grumman canoes, aluminum DuraNautic outboard motor boats and aluminum Grumman outboard motor boats, will be making eight models of pontoon boats.
They will range in length from 18 to 24 feet.
The boats will primarily be sold in dealerships in the Northeast, Potter said.
Potter said the closest company that manufactures pontoon boats is 600 miles away.
“We’re going to have an advantage selling these things to the dealer because of our proximity to the Finger Lakes,” noting transportation costs will be relatively low.
Potter declined to say how many boats the company will make each year.
The new venture will create seven jobs over the next year and eight additional jobs over the following two years.
Most of those employees will be laborers, including welders and assemblers.
The company currently employs 13 full-time workers and three part-time workers.
The majority of the $400,000 will go toward new equipment and building renovations. New equipment includes a seam welder and a machine that rolls sheet aluminum into cylinders.
Potter said in July the company will complete pontoon prototypes that will be photographed for brochures and catalogs for dealers.
Marathon Boat Group’s roots in Marathon go back 56 years.
The company started as Grumman Boats, a subsidiary of Grumman Corp., a Long Island airplane manufacturer.
Marathon Boat Group, which operated as Outboard Marine Corporation from 1990 to 1996, stopped producing pontoon boats in 1991.
Outboard Marine Corp. had purchased the company from Grumman Boats in 1990. OMC decided to centralize its pontoon boat production operations in the Midwest, Potter said, and a group of employees bought the local operation from OMC in 1996.
Since then the company has operated as Marathon Boat Group. It decided late last year to resume pontoon boat production locally. Potter declined to provide a figure for the company’s annual sales.
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