This country was built upon the backs of hard working people. The blood, sweat and tears
of these citizens combined with American ingenuity is the reason we live in such a blessed
nation. But our kids are growing up with products that are manufactured overseas and it will
be a sad day when the next generation forgets that our own workforce established the greatness
of this country. It’s harder and harder to buy American-made products, but not impossible. Here’s a list of boating products that are still proudly made in America. Every dollar you spend with these companies and others that keep their business local is a vote for the American workforce.
A.C. Shiners Lures- Made in Ohio
After boating, fishing is the next greatest American past time. Yet very few lures are made in this country. One company that still does manufacture them here is A.C. Shiners, which stands for Action Certified Shiner because each lure is hand-made from carefully selected balsa or cedar wood and takes 22 to 39 separate individual steps to complete. From start to finish, your A.C. Shiner lure takes 10 days to complete and then is individually tested in water to make sure it’s the best it can be. For almost 50 years now, A.C. Shiners has been making lures for bass, stripers, muskies and all other sport fish.
“In the early days, I was a minnow or nightcrawler fisherman because you couldn’t find a Rapala,” said owner and creator Arthur Schoultheis. “So I just decided I would make one. Ever since then, every lure I’ve made from the word go has come out of my Ohio shop.” Luckily he has nine children who have all chipped in to help build the business.
“It’s cheaper labor than anything you can get overseas,” cracked Schoultheis. Next time you head to the store for some new lures, remember A.C. Shiners are 100 percent American-made.
The Bimini Buddy- Made in Michigan
Dan Lemons, owner and creator of The Bimini Buddy, loves his pontoon boat and loves to share his boat with friends and family. Like most of us, he realized people would huddle under the rear bimini to get out of the sun. This makes the boat crowded in the rear and unstable with up to half of the boat not being utilized.
“I decided to look into purchasing a permanent front bimini from several dealers,” said Lemons. “Surprisingly it would cost over a thousand dollars and required major modifications to the boat and mooring cover. This seemed like an expensive solution.”
So he put pen to paper and came up with The Bimini Buddy. It’s a second bimini top that attaches with a custom clamping system that doesn’t require drilling holes. You can put it up within seconds and then remove it to store when you’re ready for a vitamin D fix. This awesome setup is made right here in the USA
“I believe that it’s important to keep my product manufactured in America,” said Lemons. “Small business is the back bone of our economy and responsible for two out of every three new jobs created in the U.S. The Bimini Buddy helps to support about 10 jobs and that aids in strengthening our economy and country.”
Freedom Tray- Made in North Carolina
Depending on your setup, boating can involve eating off your lap if you don’t have a table. But there’s a fairly easy solution. The Freedom Tray is the ultimate food and drink carrier. It’s the perfect beach and boating tray because it provides you and your entire family freedom from the stress and freedom from the mess. Hence the name. Plus it’s made in this great nation, whose citizens enjoy freedoms like no other nation that ever was.
The Freedom Tray is completely collapsible to less than one-inch thick and makes it easy to store. The idea for the Freedom Tray came from a pretty simple concept. There had to be a better way to handle food and drinks when you are out and about. Jonny Cannon, a father of three, came up with the idea after years of watching his children spill drinks and food all over. Now he makes the product to help other people with similar needs.
Bubba Rope- Made in Florida
A few years back a group of Central Floridian good-ol’ boys, fondly called “Bubbas,” created the perfect rope. The one-of-kind snatch rope is adapted from military specifications and has been tested commercially for years, pulling work trucks and heavy equipment from muddy job sites. Boats thoroughly stuck in a sandbar can benefit from this kinetic energy technology to get unstuck faster and safer. What makes Bubba Rope unique is the custom process of dipping the double-braided nylon rope in a polymer base. This coating is what gives Bubba Rope its water, abrasion and UV resistant properties and ultimately a longer life span. Bubba Rope was created to be a great example of a quality American-made product.
Evinrude- Made in Wisconsin
So the name Evinrude doesn’t need much explanation. It’s obvious the company makes great outboards. But it creates thousands of good paying jobs, which is another reason to keep them in mind when you make your next engine purchase.
“For more than 100 years the Evinrude name has been synonymous with America’s passion for boating,” said Alain Villemure, vice president and general manager of BRP’s Marine Propulsion Systems division. “We are honored that our brand’s rich heritage has transcended generations of boaters. We are equally proud of our employees who continue to design and manufacture all Evinrude E-TEC engines right here in southeast Wisconsin.”
Founded by Ole Evinrude in Milwaukee, Wis., in 1907, the story of its conception revolves around a picnic in the middle of a lake. When Evinrude’s date asked for ice cream, he rowed back to shore for it. Of course, the ice cream was melted by the time he returned, but Evinrude, inspired by the incident, was determined to design an engine that would replace the oar. The Evinrude family had emigrated from Norway a few years earlier to pursue the American dream which allowed Evinrude to leave a legacy that will live on forever.
Floe International- Made in Minnesota
Floe International has a lot going on right now. Besides bringing a custom-designed boat to market, the company has 30 dedicated years in the dock and boat lift business. When Wayne Floe was a teenager, he started his own dock and lift installation and removal business in his home state of Minnesota. That experience taught him how shorefront equipment should work and throughout that process, it became obvious that many of the products were falling short in areas of quality, user-friendliness and curb appeal. So he developed a new passion, which is to create top-quality dock and boat lift systems that are easy to use with an appearance that beautifies the shoreline and increases property value.
Right now, construction is moving along on a 40,000-square-foot plant to expand his company’s current site, which means more jobs for the people of McGregor, Minn.
Chene Anchor- Made in Michigan
This unique shank configuration provides a full 90-degree rotation allowing the flukes to penetrate deeply with a full 45 degree angle assuring greater holding surface and enabling the anchor to perform with 70 percent less line. The angle of the slip ring shank makes the anchor 100 percent retrievable; in fact it’s the only anchor that can be retrieved straight up without the use of a separate trip line. This anchor is made of solid steel, high tensile strength construction. All welds extend the entire length, on both sides, of all adjoining surfaces. Each anchor is hand-crafted and individually inspected to ensure the highest quality possible. This anchor is available in three sizes to best fit your needs. Besides this anchor, every single product (and there are a bunch) on the website are proudly made in the USA.
JL Audio- Made in Florida
The truth is most audio electronics come from overseas. But you still have options when it comes to buying American. In fact, JL Audio is a great option. JL Audio is an independently owned USA company that specializes in producing the best audio experience that you can have out on the water. Since most of the premium loudspeakers incorporate proprietary, patented technologies that require unique assembly techniques, the company knows the best way to build them is where they can directly control these critical processes.
Those who know marine audio know that JL Audio marine speakers deliver amazingly powerful, clear sound in any open-air boating environment. It’s also nice to know that all that quality is designed and built in a state-of-the-art facility located right here in the U.S.A. (Miramar, Florida, to be precise).
The company’s M-Series marine coaxials are offered in a standard 6.5-inch diameter, and also in oversized 7.7-inch and 8.8-inch versions. The oversized design of the M770-CCX 7.7-inch coaxial system featured here leads to increased efficiency, compared to a typical 6.5-inch marine loudspeaker. This means more clean sound output for a given amount of amplifier power. Combine that advantage with JL Audio’s legendary sound quality, and you have a speaker system that is going to put a big smile on everyone’s face.
For best performance, JL Audio recommends pairing the M770-CCX with a JL Audio marine amplifier.
PERKO- Made in Florida
The company motto says it all, “We make it right, right here!” PERKO is a privately-owned, fourth generation family corporation. The original product line consisted of hand-formed and soldered navigation lights, ventilators and chart cases fabricated from brass, copper and galvanized steel. Over 100 years later, PERKO still produces a variety of similar products, but they have expanded into a variety of other modern manufacturing processes and materials.
They currently have over 425,000 square feet of in-house capabilities from product design and tooling through manufacturing and assembly. The company prides itself in having independence from most outside vendors. With the exception of a few basic items such as light bulbs, wire and fasteners, almost everything from components to finished products are manufactured in the United States from raw materials under one roof.
PERKO’s product line consists of over 1,000 individual products. The line includes L.E.D. and incandescent navigation lights, battery switches, searchlights, underwater hardware, cabinet hardware, deck hardware, cleats, locks, latches, hinges, hasps, deck plates and fills, fishing rod holders and emissions products for marine fuel systems.
HarborWare Dock Float and Corner Bumper- Made in Arkansas
In 2012 HarborWare did something most companies are unwilling to do. They put economics aside to embark on the path less traveled and established an 80/20 Rule. This rule is a commitment to make sure 80 percent or more of everything they sell is made right here in the USA. The employees work tirelessly to find the best products America has to offer as a way of paying homage to the hard-working craftsmen that built this country.
“We simply believe America makes things better and our customers should never have to say ‘Thing’s just aren’t made like they used to be,’” said rep Dave Darr. “That’s why we are committed to make sure 80 percent or more of everything we sell is made right here in the USA.”
Besides being in the resell business, the company offers a ton of great boating products that it manufactures all in-house. One great example is dock floats that can be used to support floating docks on lakes with frequently changing water levels. Designed for commercial and residential floating boat docks, they are made of foam-filled heavy-duty plastic. Another thing that most of us need is 12-inch corner dock bumpers, which give ample protection to your dock corners.
Mercury Marine- Made in Wisconsin
Since the company was founded in 1939, Mercury has consistently emphasized quality, performance, innovation and reliability. Today, that pledge remains as strong as ever. Mercury Marine began as the Kiekhaefer Corporation when Carl Kiekhaefer and a small but dedicated staff of employees sought to design and produce the best possible boat engine.
The same great people of Wisconsin are still building these engines today. In fact, 3,000 of the 5,000 Mercury employees worldwide hail from Fond du Luc, Wis., and these people take pride in making the best outboard available. When PDB Editor Brady Kay got the opportunity last winter to tour the plant, he was impressed with how much the town and the community prided themselves on being associated with Mercury Marine. That speaks volumes about how the company supports the community and this country.
Pontoon Water Glide-Made in Oregon
If you have a two-pontoon setup, there’s a really great product you should consider when it comes to aftermarket product performance. The Water Glide is a patented pontoon boat hydrofoil that lifts your pontoon so it will get on plane faster. It will increase pontoon speed, fuel efficiency and overall handling. Best of all, you can safely install it yourself while the pontoon is on a trailer. The Glide takes about 3 hours to install and does not require any welding or difficult installation methods.
Dave Schaefer had entered semi-retirement and bought a new pontoon to entertain himself and his family. But the engineer in Dave got the better of him. He started looking for ways to make it go faster and handle better. He came across the Pontoon Water Glide, installed it and loved what it did to his boat. He thought it was so great that he ended up buying the company. Now it has become a family business.
PontoonBoatGraphics.com- Made in California
There’s nothing wrong with an old pontoon. If its floats, you can have fun on it. But sometimes a cosmetic refresher is exactly what you need to spruce it up a little. PontoonBoatGraphics.com can do that for you. The company has pre-loaded designs or you can put your own together with its online tools. From there, it will be printed on 3M vinyl, which is recognized as the best in the industry. Once printed, an additional over laminate is added to extend the life of your product, and then the company custom cuts the graphic and gets it ready to apply on your boat. It’s shipped directly to you with specific instructions on how to put it on.
This American business started with a passion and vision to create custom-designed pontoon graphics. All of the products are produced in-house, which gives PontoonBoatGraphics.com the ability to maintain the highest quality control standards and deliver your products on time and on budget.
Pontoon Legs- Made in Minnesota
Hewitt Machine & Mfg. is known to marine dealers as a leading producer of boat lifts and docks. The manufacturing plant is located in Nicollet, Minn. The company annually employs 85 full-time and seasonal workers.
The company has a lot of different boating products, but one of our favorites is the pontoon legs. This lifting system enables pontoon boats to stand on four feet, using nothing more than the power from a 12-volt battery. Whenever you pull into shore, on any type of bottom, you can raise your boat clear of the water in seconds with the touch of a button. This made-to-go system helps protect your pontoon from the damaging effects of waves and water for longer service life and higher resale value.
The Hewitt family will be the first to tell you, they couldn’t have done it without their American employees. These great people have been known to put in 10-hour days during peak season. In fact, 80 percent of the employees have been with the company for eight or more years. What does that tell you about our great local workforce?
Stowmate Storage Organization-Made in Florida
Onboard storage can be stressful, but the company Stowmate was started to ease that burden. The company manufactures a variety of different mesh components with marine-grade material. These products range in everything from cupholders to overhead life jacket storage. Everything is easy to clean and requires no hardware. Another bonus is that the company doesn’t shy away from custom work. If you can dream it, they can build it.
The item that caught our fancy was a mesh life jacket bag that holds six Type II life jackets or four Class/Type II life jackets. It has three durable straps with nylon D-Ring and that span up to five feet for a secure grip onto a bimini frame. One large flap overlaps the front end of the bag with a Velcro strip on the underside for secure closure. Your boat will have more storage for life jackets, but they will be overhead and out of the way.
The TOWDSTER- Made in Minnesota
The product was created a few years back in the Brainerd Lakes Area of Minnesota. It all started when a family of six needed a way to safely tow two personal watercrafts behind their pontoon. Instead of making several trips and turning each day into a big headache, Pat Farley came up with something easier. He created a V shaped device that allows you to tow with no problems.
With a TOWDSTER, you can tow your personal watercraft, dinghy or small boat with safety and control behind your pontoon. The watercraft being towed won’t hit your boat when slowing down or stopping and there are no ropes to get caught in your engine. It is available in four colors, floats if dropped and keeps your watercraft apart from each other without marring any of the finishes. When in motion the expanded rope takes the shock of the waves not your watercraft. It’s made of heavy-duty polyvinyl, wrapped with high density polyethylene foam sleeve, 12 strand marine rope and a heavy-duty snap hook made of solid stainless steel.
Tuff Coat Non-Skid Coating from Overton’s- Made in North Carolina
Overton’s Rubberized Nonskid Coating is the world’s best nonskid coating and it is made right here in the USA. It’s made of a cross-linked acrylic urethane co-polymer that’s extremely weather-, wear- and impact-resistant. It’s good for more than just your boat, it’s made for everything from a traditional pontoon to boat docks and ramps. It’s specifically designed to adhere to wood, concrete, metal, fiberglass, plastic, rubber, vinyl, and much more. This water-based product is nontoxic and environmentally-friendly.
It’s resistant to acids, solvents, fuels, chlorine and salts. A prefect DIY project, it can be sprayed or roller applied. It is recommended that this coating be applied at a maximum of 40 to 50 square feet per gallon for most non-heavy commercial applications. You will need to prime your vessel first.
The Touchless Cover-Made in Florida
The Touchless Cover has been around since 1998. The inception of The Touchless Cover products came from a desire to easily and conveniently access your boat without having to struggle with the hassle of a traditional boat cover. The company’s research showed that boat owners would actually avoid using their boat due to the difficulty involved with removing and re-installing a traditional cover. But when you don’t use your cover, your boat is exposed to the weather, which isn’t a good thing. So The Touchless Cover came to be.
One of the largest concerns in the design of The Touchless Cover boat cover was in the manufacturing costs of a high-quality product. To provide an affordable and superior product to the customer, Innovative Marine Technologies decided to perform the manufacturing in-house where each cover can go through a rigorous inspection process. Yes, you read that right. The company decided it would be cheaper to produce it in America because there would be less shoddy construction that it would have to replace at a later date. Makes sense, right?
T.A.P. Fin System-Made in North Carolina
The T.A.P Fin System is a specifically designed set of aluminum fins that, when mounted to any pontoon, will provide a great range of benefits such as increased lift, increased stability, tighter turning radius and improved ride in rough water.
It works by channeling the water back down, which creates lift and increases control and performance. Mounted at the waterline, the T.A.P. Fin System is located at a position where it can provide the greatest benefit instead of below the water line where there is more potential for drag.
This system is a simple aftermarket install and you will see an increase in your performance right away.