Performance boat builder casts line into new markets

December 12, 2011
Filed under News

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Four years ago, Nor-Tech Hi Performance Boats introduced its first center-console performance boats to the market.

Last week, Nor-Tech announced it is expanding into the saltwater fishing boats market, producing a new line better tuned to the specific needs of offshore tournament anglers.

Following more than three years of harsh economic conditions, especially in the fishing boat market, it might seem counter-intuitive to launch a new boat line hitting this niche as the industry climbs out of the recession.

“Not at all,” said Terry Sobo, director of sales and marketing at Nor-Tech. “Four years ago it may have been a risky move into the center-console market, but our center consoles were a hit and have been making up the majority of our business.”

Nor-Tech has four boats in the 28- to 43-foot range lined up to be released next year, including two redesigned versions of popular models and two brand new models. The first is a fully redesigned fishing version of Nor-Tech’s 39-foot center console set to debut at the Miami International Boat Show in February.

“When we looked at the market, we saw that there were either hardcore fishing boats, or no boats,” Sobo said. “We wanted to design a boat that a family could take out three weekends a month, but also could be something you and your buddies could cruise offshore with for some fishing.”

Alden Thornton is the company’s new saltwater sales manager and fishing team manager. Thornton brings credibility through experience, both as a competitor in Southern Kingfish Association Tournaments and as regional sales manager and fishing team manager for Fountain Powerboats, where he also assisted in the design and testing of the boats.

“Some of our boats have already been used in SKA tours, and were a hit. We’ve brought Alden on-board to help lend some credibility to the new line-up,” Sobo said.

The addition of Thornton will help lend some credibility to a boat hull that has already been a hit. While the company experienced some slower sales this summer, Sobo said things were good for Nor-Tech when sales picked up again in the fall. Demand rose enough that the company has even added a second shift to increase production.

Last week, Nor-Tech also added three new dealers to help fulfill demand for the boats. The company said the companies were chosen specifically with the goal of including dealers that specialize in the company’s outboard products.

There won’t be more dealers added in the near term, however. Instead, the company says it wants to keep its network the same size and maintain a high level of quality in its products.

“We don’t want to add any more dealers,” said Sobo. “We’re a relatively small custom company; we’re not a cookie cutter boat builder and don’t expect to be producing 500 boats a year any time soon.”

If solid sales continue through 2012, and the new fishing boats fit well within the company’s expected need, the year could prove to be another good one for Nor-Tech, according to Sobo.

“We survived the brutal downturn and things got off to a good start in 2011. People are beginning to spend more,” he said. “We’re pretty excited about next year.”

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