The boating world is an ever-evolving industry, whether it be through the quality of their craft or the ways people use them; as such, those in the business of designing and manufacturing boats must be experienced, innovative, and committed to the end user. For the last 90 years, Nautique Boat Company has taken this formula and brought it to a whole different level, producing some of the world’s most renowned and cutting-edge ski and wake boats out of their headquarters in Orlando, Fla. Leading Nautique today is Greg Meloon, company president and great-grandson of its original founder, W.C. Meloon. In a conversation with Industry Today, he talks about why the Nautique brand has such a strong and reputable presence in the global boating market, and expands upon how a long-fostered corporate philosophy centered on quality and community responsibility fuels their continued success each year. Steve Engelhardt reports.
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The summer is in full swing, and as a result, millions of people around the United States will be flocking to their closest beaches and lakes to soak up some sun and relax in the heat. Laying out on the sand is fine, but those looking to take things to another level—be it for either leisure or entertainment—will be out in a boat, bobbing or racing along the water’s surface, hopefully doing so in a Nautique Boats-designed ski or wake boat.
That’s because Nautique models are recognized as some of the most high-performing and highly-engineered watersports boats available, as the company’s commitment to both comfort and technology give users the total package that many look for. “The Team at Nautique Boat Company is driven to be the best in the industry,” says Meloon, “We design, develop and build boats that redefine the expectations of the most demanding watersports enthusiasts. Our products are about fulfilling dreams and living a lifestyle that identifies our family of customers.”
Let’s talk about performance. Meloon says that the development team works painstakingly to deliver products that set the industry standards for performance while balancing the value proposition that customers demand. “As with most performance products, our price is a resulting function of the innovative engineering that goes into each and every one of our models,” he says, adding, “Our specialty relates to performance in the driver’s seat as well as what goes on behind the boat—We’re the epitome of what people in the watersports market desire.”
Nautique offers 8 different models of boats from the world renowned Ski Nautique to the Super Air Nautique G-Series with options to meet every family’s needs in between. Meloon says that while the Ski Nautique has a legacy in waterskiing that has defined our brand for decades, our company continues to evolve with the changing demands of the market including the popularity of wakeboarding and wake surfing—an activity that has recently exploded across lakes and coastal waterways around the world.
“The G-Series has revolutionized the industry with respect to how wakeboarding and wake surfing are enjoyed by both world-class athletes and first-time riders,” he says, adding, “Between the effortless handling, smooth ride, and perfect wakes they create, Nautique boats have rapidly become the destination for progression with every rider in the world looking to push the limits of possibility.”
Enhancing the sport-specific performance of the Super Air Nautique boats is the Nautique Surf System (NSS), which utilizes WAVEPLATE ® technology to create a fully customizable, world-class surf wave that has led to Nautique becoming the official towboat of the U.S. National Wakesurfing championships. “The introduction of NSS has improved our customer’s experience with their Nautique. With the simple touch of a button, the driver can effortlessly transition the boat from wakeboarding to wake surfing in seconds,” explained Meloon.
This technology allows for wave customization with variable intensity settings that adjust wave steepness and shape by controlling exactly how much the WAVEPLATE is engaged. But as innovators, Nautique did not stop there. On 2016 models, they have introduced the ability for the surfer to control their experience from behind the boat. Through the interface of the Pebble Smart Watch and the Nautique Surf Select App, the surfer can now control the customization of the wave along with speed and stereo settings.
The fostering and continuous development of cutting-edge products is a core commitment at Nautique, and although the company has two private lakes for development and testing in addition to 217,000-square-feet of manufacturing floor space in place already, they recently decided that in the face of growing demand amidst a flourishing industry, more space would be needed. “In June we announced an expansion of our headquarters and manufacturing facility in Orlando, which will ultimately provide our growing team with the necessary resources to continue the innovation of our products and leading manufacturing processes,” Meloon says.
The investment, which totals $8 million, is largely in response to the North American towboat industry growing by 14.5 percent in 2014, following the 11 percent increase seen in 2013. “Over these last two years our innovative new products have propelled our growth at a pace greater than the market. When combined with the industry’s positive trend and our strong reputation within such, it made perfect sense to expand so that we can continue to increase our market presence.” And for a company that also does business in more than 60 countries around the world, the facility expansion provides additional opportunity for Nautique’s potential growth going forward.
Between a manufacturing presence that has all the necessary resources and processes in place and then some, and the subsequent development of world-class boats that provide a dynamic, unmatched level of performance, there’s a lot to admire and respect when looking at Nautique Boats from a bird’s-eye point of view. And yet, perhaps the most impressive aspect of the company isn’t found under the roofs of their facilities or inside the frames of their boats, but rather within the hearts and minds of the people that work for and represent the company’s name.
In 2007, Nautique launched Nautique Cares, an organizational initiative sponsored and run solely by the employees at Nautique. “Nautique Cares is our recognition that life isn’t just about making boats, serving as an internal and external focus on how we can improve our culture as a company and use it to benefit the lives of those all around the world.”
Beginning with a trip to Tecate, Mexico in 2007, where a team of Nautique employees built a new home for a family of seven, the organization has since increased its frequency of trips and international reach, with impacted locations including Nicaragua, Guatemala, Haiti, India, El Salvador and various parts of Africa as of 2015. “Our employees—200 of which have now participated in the program—contribute their vacation time to go on these trips, which says a lot about the type of person who works at Nautique,” he says, adding, “However, the trips themselves are extremely rewarding, and we all end up coming back from them with invaluable perspectives and experiences on life, which ultimately strengthens our core as a company.”
In fact, he says one of the most memorable trips was when Nautique travelled to India in 2013 to witness upfront the work and impact of As Our Own, a worldwide organization dedicated to rescuing individuals from human trafficking. “Following this trip, we actually built a customized Nautique G21 in the official red color of As Our Own,” Meloon says, adding, “The boat was put up for auction, with all of the proceeds going directly to As Our Own’s efforts towards fighting what is a tragic, yet unfortunately highly prevalent issue in this world.”
Making the donation even more special was the fact that many of the parts inside the boat—which is currently valued on the company’s website at a starting price of $114,000—were provided free of charge by Nautique’s chain of vendors. “It was extremely gratifying to see our valued vendors, once hearing about the boat’s end destination, take it upon themselves to donate critical components like an engine, tower or underwater gear, for the greater good and benefit of those living in a very dark place.”
The existence of Nautique Cares and the widespread success it has had thus far further highlights the company’s overall commitment and dedication to each and every one of their partnerships, whether it be business-related or other. “Building a culture of people who care about the people and world around them is a core pillar of our success here at Nautique Boat Company.”
To learn more about Nautique Boat Company and their world renowned boats: visit them at www.nautique.com.