Taylor Made Systems and Ameritex Fabric Systems have expanded their Rome City, Ind., facility in an effort to be closer to the growing pontoon industry.
"We have become more of a local supplier to a lot of pontoon boatbuilders by also having a full engineering staff and products nearby so we can offer that very localized service," Ameritex co-founder Don Zirkelbach told Soundings Trade Only. (Ameritex became part of the Taylor Made Group in 2009.)
The expansion of the Indiana facility, which began in the spring, is part of an effort to cater to pontoon clients and step up service to one of the few growing segments in the industry, Zirkelbach said.
The companies began working with pontoon builders about two years ago as the segment began to grow. The transition was natural, Zirkelbach said, and it has paid off. Today, pontoon business is enjoying a 20 to 30 percent growth rate in the overall business Ameritex does. "The rate of pontoon growth has been fast, so it's led to nice growth for us, as well."
"Obviously the market has evolved past the cliche of your grandpa's pontoon," Mike Oathout, sales and marketing vice president at Taylor and Ameritex, said. "Now you can tow behind them, sleep on them, fish off them, barbecue on them. They're just a great overall value in the marketplace today."
The shift of some consumers from the fiberglass powerboat market into pontoons is creating more demand for high-performing, stylish products, Oathout said. Those consumers are used to a certain fit and finish and quality on boats.
An engineering team at the Indiana facility can personally respond when pontoon builders, which tend to be in the Midwest, have questions or challenges.
"We also have the capability to make changes on the fly," Zirkelbach said. "If something has moved on the boat or we need a change in the canvas, we can do it."