Over 15 years ago, Gary Johr stumbled upon a product that was being developed by a NASA scientist and being used in science labs at the Ford Motor Company. His interest peaked as he watched someone use a hose to simply squirt the algae off of a Boston Whaler fiberglass boat coated in this product.
Now, with his gold-mine find and his pockets in a pinch, he’s livin’ on a dream of showing this product to the world.
This product, Seal-Brite, as he named it, is a clear coating that bonds with the aluminum to keep the boat sparkling.
“Everybody talks about wanting the aluminum to stay bright because it oxidizes and turns ugly gray,” said Johr. “When I put it on and saw that it sealed it and pretty much whatever the aluminum was like when you put it on, that’s what it still stayed like—so if it’s polished, it’s bright— I just ended up calling it Seal-Brite.”
In addition to keeping the polished appearance of the pontoon boat, Seal-Brite also protects the tubes from the wears of the water world. It’s not just a paint or a polish; it cures like ceramic glass, and its properties guard it against harsh substances and conditions associated with boating. Whereas some anti-fouling paints or polishes can be discolored due to chemicals in the water, Seal-Brite resists the damage that would normally occur in this situation.
“The coloring is impervious to any kind of a solvent,” said Johr. “Gasoline, brake fluid, hydraulic fluid. Salt will not penetrate it; in fact, it’s probably the best coating to put on a pontoon boat if it’s going in saltwater.”
In his experience, Johr has never seen anything like Seal-Brite. He notices that people will shine up their pontoons month after month with polish that so easily comes off or fades, whereas the pontoon he shined-up in 2008 still, to this day, retains its brightness. He sympathizes with those who ask themselves, “why even polish my boat if it’s not going to last?” That’s why he loves seeing people use his product; he knows they won’t have to engage in any more fruitless boat-shining pursuits.
“The other thing is it’ll make a pontoon boat go faster,” said Johr. “I have documentation that anywhere from five to ten mile increase.”
Other clear-coat competitors do not have the long lasting properties of Seal-Brite according to Johr and he believes that’s why his product is superior.
“I know that other clear-coats don’t hold up in water that well for a very long time,” said Johr. “Whereas my product, if you leave it in the water for a long time, it’s not coming off.”
In addition to the differences in durability, other clear-coat products and Seal-Brite have very few similarities besides the fact that they are both clear-coat coatings. For example, when other clear-coats get damaged they tend to peel and flake off. They can also be removed with solvents. However, according to Johr Seal-Brite will not come off unless sanded off or has a frictional encounter with something in the water. Also, when it does come off in one spot, it doesn’t affect the rest of the coat.
Johr has coated roughly the same amount of fiberglass boats and pontoon boats with this product but he works mostly with pontoon boats because he claims they’re “a lot easier to do.” He’s worked with a pontoon manufacturer before to solve problems that boats had with chloride salt eating at the aluminum when being shipped in the wintertime, but wasn’t able to strike a deal with them. Now, he’s looking for manufacturers that would want to take it on or applicators that work on boats in general so that he can see his product really reach the potential that he knows it has.
Applying this coating to new or refurbished tubes takes about an hour and a half, but the method is very specific and it must be carefully executed. It’s a three-part solution that needs to be mixed. It can be applied with a paintbrush, but Johr likes to use a light stain applicator so that the brush strokes aren’t pronounced, and it comes out looking like glass.
Anyone looking to become an applicator would need to be trained to apply this type of product or coating so that the probability of mishaps is minimized. If there is an area it comes off, it does leave a wound that will show, “but that’s with anything,” Johr claims. He says you can either fix it or take it all off and polish the tubes.
Pride in his product and surety of its success keeps Johr going. Fifteen years and counting, and he can’t stop, won’t stop, until he makes Seal-Brite known in the boat shining sphere.