Fountain Powerboats, a leading powerboat manufacturer, is renowned for its styling, construction, performance and features. Come along for the cruise with April Terreri.
Some companies build boats, but Fountain builds powerboats. And this is the major distinction between Fountain Powerboats and other leading boat-building companies. “Fountain Powerboats is one of the most well-known names in the marine industry, and the name Fountain as a brand is second to none,” says Gary Baltz, executive vice president of sales and marketing for the Washington, N.C., company. “Our roots are firmly planted in the performance boat market and our boats are what a Porsche or a Ferrari is to automobiles. We’ve built our reputation through years of racing technology and we build that experience and advanced technology into all of our boats.”
Every Fountain design is a competition-proven winner and is built with the finest space-age materials available. The world’s leading manufacturer of high-performance sport boats, sport cruisers, express cruisers and sport fish boats, Fountain Powerboats repeatedly wins numerous awards. Its sport boats have placed first in offshore races more often than the other top 50 boating companies combined, and its leading role in the North American boating industry is unparalleled. The company’s full line of race boats are perennial favorites as they race on the APBA (American Power Boat Association) circuit and the SBI (Super Boat International) racing circuit.
It’s all about speed, performance, engineered design, style and safety at Fountain Powerboats. Founder Reggie Fountain guides the helm as CEO, and those in the boating industry know Reggie’s superior prowess on the boat racecourse circuit and his acute knowledge of boat engineering, design and performance. He combines all of these talents and experiences with his astute business acumen, which has catapulted Fountain Powerboats into the enviable position as the world’s premier performance boat manufacturing company.
“When you buy a Fountain, you are buying a boat that’s built for performance and easy handling,” says Baltz. “Our boats, with comparable power, run a lot faster than any other manufacturer’s boat out there. Speed is all a function of weight and horsepower, so we offer a lower horsepower package that performs better through efficient hull design.”
A lot of engineering goes into every one of the boats Fountain Powerboats builds. High-quality, lighter-weight laminate materials, such as vinylester resins, are used. High-density foam core materials are sandwiched between layers of fiberglass, so not only is overall performance enhanced, but the fiberglass is less likely to delaminate. “Other companies might use wood for the core material and some companies don’t use any coring material,” explains Baltz. “The materials we use are the same used in the aerospace industry to make planes lighter and more durable.”
Fountain’s performance boat line offers a full range of sizes: a 27-footer, 29-footer, 32-footer, two models of 35-footers, 38-footer, 42-footer, and a 47-footer. “When you talk about these boats, you are really talking about a nice day boat that will get you where you want to go and it will get you there fast, very smoothly, and always with lots of style,” says Baltz. “When you pull up to the dock in a Fountain powerboat, people notice you!”
Keeping Innovations Afloat
New product developments and product enhancements are an ongoing practice at Fountain Powerboats. Innovation is a way of life. “We are the leader in boating technology and we will continue to be,” says Baltz. “Historically, we have used innovations we’ve developed – or that were developed within the industry – and we’ve always incorporated the latest and greatest technological innovations into everyday boating.”
One such innovation, really overlooked by everyone in the industry but Fountain, are step-bottom notches cut into the bottoms of boats. “Back in 1993, no one was incorporating them into their boats – but we developed this technology and brought it to mainstream boating,” explains Baltz. “This technology was used for some really high-end type race boats and Catamarans, but nobody was using that technology in everyday boating.” Today, this technology is pretty commonplace in the boating industry, some 10 years after. “So this is typical of how we operate – we develop new innovations and the rest of the industry just kind of follows suit. We’ve always set the pace for the industry.”
Among the company’s newest product developments are two new fishing boats. The open fisherman model is a cruiser-type boat with an open back. “It’s a fast boat and can do up to 70 miles an hour and you can fish right off the back from a fighting chair,” Baltz says. “We also have a 38LE we are developing for a launch in early 2003. This is another large fishing boat with a large cabin up front, a large center console with wrap-around seating. We think this will be a hot boat for us.”
The company was founded on a spirit of innovation and gusto. Reggie Fountain had been a racer racing tunnel boats. In conjunction with Mercury, he began to develop a turbo-charged engine. “They commissioned him for this project and they needed a boat to use as a platform to test this product,” explains Baltz. “Reggie started with a 33-foot Excalibur he used to perform all the testing with Mercury. He developed the notch transom and put a pad on the keel, and raised and lowered the drive heights to make the craft go faster. He was always improving on improvements. Then he began the company in 1979 because people really liked the boats he was developing.”
Reggie developed the company’s signature flared hullside, incorporated into every Fountain powerboat.
Premier State-of-the-Art Facility
A photo of Fountain Powerboats’ manufacturing facility might suggest a tantalizing vacation getaway. The 100-acre campus, employing 350 people, is beautifully situated right on the Pamlico River and the state-of-the-art, technologically advanced boat manufacturing facility has over 300,000 square feet of manufacturing space under one roof. It also has a modern marina and company personnel use the Pamlico and the Atlantic Ocean to test and tune every boat Fountain builds. “We use the Pamlico and the Atlantic Ocean as our test tank and every boat we build is thoroughly water-tested in actual-use conditions,” Baltz says of Fountain’s “factory-on-the-water”. “At Fountain we use a combination of both CAD capabilities and on-the-water testing to build the world’s fastest, safest, smoothest-running and best-handling boats.”
Fountain is one of few boat manufacturers worldwide with ISO-9001 certification, which ensures a design and manufacturing process delivering ultimate customer satisfaction through extensive documentation of all systems. The company builds virtually every component part used to produce its boats. “It’s been difficult to get our vendors to build components to our specs because we want them to be stronger and beefier than the industry standard and we want our components to incorporate a certain style. Vertical integration means faster delivery times, superior quality and helps us maintain a look that’s uniquely Fountain,” says Baltz. “We remain the only boat builder ever to win “Boat of the Year” honors from three different marine
magazines, including Powerboat, Hot Boat, and Boating.”
Fountain expects the fishing boat market to offer exceptional growth potential. “This is an expanding market for us and continues to grow every year,” says Baltz. “We just came out with two new boats and we are coming out with two more new ones and we are prepared for good growth in this segment.”
After a major reorganization of key executives in June of 2002, Fountain Powerboats has again set sail for an incredible performance and expects to achieve $50 million in sales this year. “We have a strong management team, each of whom knows exactly what needs to happen and how to execute the plan,” Baltz says.
“We are constantly changing and evolving our products but we also want to keep true to our roots,” he continues. “Our boats have a very classic look and I like to compare our look to that of the Porsche 911 – the ones built today have the same classic look as 20 years ago, but they’ve refined it. This is what we do here at Fountain Powerboats so that our boats continue to perform better and faster with lots of style.”