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RS Sailing 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Alumacraft: 75 years of taking North America fishing

by Candace Gawrysiak 13 Feb 06:32 PST
Aluminum Boat Brand © Adventure Studios - John Linn

Since the first boat rolled off the Minnesota assembly line in 1946, Alumacraft has been a top choice for families who love outdoor activities, especially fishing. Whether they are in the Great Lakes region or the shallower waters of the South, Alumacraft is a name that conjures memories of generations of the same family getting out on the water in search of fish and fun - sometimes in a boat that's been handed down from parent to child or in one that reminds them of the one their grandparents owned.

"Alumacraft is a brand that's all about family," said Nate Warner, general manager and owner of Warner's Dock in New Richmond, Wisconsin. "Often we sell boats to customers whose grandfather and father have owned Alumacrafts."

Dedicated to Meeting Customer Needs

Alumacraft is one of the oldest aluminum boat brands and continues to be manufactured in the United States and, no doubt, it owes its longevity to its constant search for new ways to meet the needs of its loyal and dedicated customers. It all began with solving the problem of heavy, leaky wooden rowboats.

After the second world war, the president of the Flour City Ornamental Iron Company, Harry J. Neils, came up with an ingenious idea - why not put the know-how his workers had perfected building aluminum bridge pontoons and aircraft parts to good use by making durable, light and affordable boats for the Upper Midwest's active angling community. With the help of an established and visionary designer of wooden fishing boats, Erich Swenson, the 12-foot Model B became the first Alumacraft product, priced at $275, including a set of aluminum oars.

In the boom decades that followed, the brand introduced a full range of boats that were big enough for a family, made for fishing and great for leisure. They offered duck boats, canoes and runabouts. Alumacraft kept adding features to give buyers the greater comfort, safety and luxury that they were looking for - such as the deck of the Merry M runabout in 1954, which included industry-first life-jacket seat cushions and a self-draining pan ahead of the transom that stopped waves from coming into the boat. Later, customers could choose from a range of three-color combinations and enjoy standard console steering and integrated running lights. With innovation part of the company culture, Alumacraft became known for the stronger, tougher hulls that its original and unique process of stretch-forming produced.

For Fishing Fans Up and Down the Country

The 1970's saw Alumacraft expand into the South through the acquisition of General Marine Corporation - adding Arkansas-made, flatter-bottomed Southern fishing boats to its range of deep Vs that were more popular in the North. During the previous 20 years, the company had built trust with families who loved a range of outdoor activities, but fishing was always chief among them. In fact, this still holds true today. In a recent survey of buyers of new Alumacraft vessels, over 90% said they used their boats for fishing, well ahead of other activities.

In the years leading up to the brand's half-century anniversary, anglers became a clear focus for the design department; who aimed to produce the best type of boats for particular species and included as many useful features as possible for fishing aficionados. Aerated livewells were introduced in 1983 and were standard fore and aft on two models that also featured rod holders, bow storage, coolers and additional seat bases so anglers could move around. It was also in the '80s that the popular Competitor series and Phantom V-170 bass boat were introduced; again, fully equipped for fishing.

By the time Alumacraft celebrated its golden anniversary in 1991, it had made over half a million boats and was one of the biggest boat manufacturers in the U.S. and offered more than 80 models focused on fishing and hunting. Whatever fish an angler targeted - tournament walleye, bass or panfish - there was an Alumacraft to fit their fishing style.

Always Moving Forward

The 1990's saw a period of modernization for Alumacraft's manufacturing processes. The company became more efficient, while maintaining the traditional techniques to continue to deliver high-quality products. As the world entered a new millennium, product innovations succeeded performance enhancements. During this time, Alumacraft released several industry-first product innovations such as the Alumatrac rigging system, which allowed a host of custom accessories to be attached to the inner side of a boat's gunwales; as well as a lighter, 130% stronger, all-aluminum transom made for today's larger, more powerful outboards.

In 2018, Alumacraft welcomed a new era as part of the BRP family and the powersports manufacturer's new Marine Group. A long heritage of innovation, design firsts, technical know-how and customer-centricity was common ground for the two organizations.

To mark the boat brand's 75th anniversary, with a nod to everything the Alumacraft name embodies, the company launched the Competitor 175 and 185 Family, Fish and Ski crossover (FSX) boats to enable fishing families to continue making memories on the water for generations to come.

For more information about Alumacraft or its entire line of award-winning aluminum fishing boats, visit alumacraft.com.

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