J&D Acquisitions Chairman Irwin Jacobs announced on March 30 that his company's Triumph Boats brand will move its manufacturing operation from its present home in Durham, NC, to J&D's Larson, SeaSwirl and Fincraft plant in Little Falls, MN. The move will better position the Triumph brand for “significant growth” in Canada, built upon an increased focus on selling boats to commercial lodge operators.
“Aluminum boats are becoming increasingly expensive, and Canadian fishing camps have a short season, maybe six or seven months, to earn their year's revenue,” said Jacobs in an exclusive interview with Boating Business. “The warranty on aluminium boats, whether they're riveted or welded, is only one or two years, and then the camp has to buy a new fleet of boats again. With Triumph, we can give them a lifetime warranty – 10 years of hard use is not problem. The camp operators will still need to replace the outboards every couple of years, but the cost savings realized from not having to replace an entire fleet of boats every couple of seasons will have an enormous impact on cash flows for these lodge businesses. To be perfectly honest, I don't see a camp operator ever wanting to buy an aluminium boat again.”
Triumph, purchased from the Genmar bankruptcy proceedings by J&D Acquisitions LLC, builds an extensive line of fishing boats from 15 to 23 feet, each utilizing the company's patented Roplene manufacturing process. Described as 'the world's toughest boats,' Triumph models are said to be unsinkable and indestructible.
“Totem Lodge, in north-western Ontario, runs 92 of our Triumph boats right now,” notes Jacobs. “The fishing guides and the guests love the Triumphs because the ride is so much nicer than what they're accustomed to, and the owners love their durability. You can't destroy them – you can hit rocks, or logs, or even docks with them, and they just bounce off. It means lower maintenance costs for the camp, and no downtime.”
The move from Durham is expected to be completed in early summer, with manufacturing operations scheduled to resume by August. “Our Little Falls facility truly is a state-of-the-art boat plant and, being located in Minnesota, is already located very close to the Canadian market,” notes Jacobs. “We're targeting every fishing camp in Canada, from West Coast salmon resorts to eastern walleye and muskie camps. We will miss the season this year with moving our production equipment, but we already have orders for 200 boats right now. The potential market is perhaps 15,000 boats.”
Jacobs says the core of the fishing lodge business will focus on Triumph's 17-foot skiff, along with a 19-foot model. Boats will be sold through existing Triumph dealers, and managed by a new corporate camp division, which will assist with financing and leasing arrangements. “A camp can take a five-year program on a Triumph, instead of maybe a two-year program on an aluminium boat, and pay their boats off and put their cash back into the business without having to pay taxes on it,” says Jacobs. “There are huge advantages to it, and the camp owners will save a ton of money by switching to Triumph, since they cost the same as an aluminium boat but last so much longer. Over 10 years, a camp will buy five boats. If they cost $20,000 each, that's $100,000. Compare that to a one-time purchase of a Triumph and the cost efficiency is very compelling. We will have to bring on new dealers to handle this new business, provide service and work with our corporate camp division.”
The company's expectation is that once consumers are exposed to the Triumph boats while on vacation, they will consider the brand for their next personal boat purchase. It's a model that has been used successfully by a number of brands in several different industries. Jacobs is optimistic. “Once a person rides in one of these boats, they will want to buy it. It's as simple as that.”