From Parts To Pontooning

Capturing the art of manufacturing

January 2022 Feature Brady L. Kay

I’ve always been fascinated with the fabrication assembly process. It started back in college when I worked for a company which built fitness equipment. Seeing a pile of raw materials transformed into treadmills, exercise bikes and ellipticals by the time it got to the end of the assembly line intrigued me. It also made me question out loud where all these treadmills were going as hundreds were shipped out daily. You would think after so many years everyone in the world would have a treadmill, yet this company kept producing more and more each day.

I’ve had the privilege to tour a lot of pontoon, deck boat and even engine manufacturing plants during my tenure here as editor and I love that each assembly process is different. I wouldn’t say one way was particularly better than another, just different.

Of course one added bonus I get from sitting in the helm chair here at PDB for as long as I have is I’m now starting to re-visit manufacturers who have moved into larger buildings. If you toured for example the 360,000-square-foot Harris Boats manufacturing plant in Fort Wayne, Ind., today it would impress you, but you’d have an even deeper appreciation for the new campus if you had a chance to tour their old one.

For over 50 years Harris Boats, a subsidiary of the Brunswick Corporation and a division of the Brunswick Boat Group has been building quality boats in this region. I toured the plant prior to the move to a new manufacturing facility that was announced back in 2013.  The high-end luxury pontoon builder had overgrown its previous space to the point where it felt like the perimeter fence was going to give way and materials would spill over into neighboring lots. To say this industry giant was due for a move would be an understatement.

Moving to the new location, Harris invested a lot into its facility and clearly set a goal for its employees to not only be safer, but to be able to work smarter, not harder. Our recent tour opened our eyes to a well laid-out floor plan and here are some photos we captured during our visit.

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