Vic Porter, Decatur entrepreneur who turned Formula Boats into world renowned brand, passes away at age 90

Local News

DECATUR, Ind. (WANE) Vic Porter, who spent more than 60 years in the boating industry, most notably with with Formula Boats and Thunderbird Products in Decatur, passed away Sunday at the age of 90.

Vic Porter
Vic Porter

According to his obituary, Porter passed away surrounded by family following a several week illness.

At the time of his death, Porter was Chairman Emeritus of Formula Boats and Thunderbird Products.

Information provided by Formula Boats reveals Porter’s early career included ventures into mobile home sales, real estate as well as a frozen food and ice cream company. In 1958 he started a boat company called Duo which began a career in the boating industry that continued until his death. He sold Duo to Starcraft in 1966.

In 1976, Porter took advantage of the energy crisis to purchase a small boat group which included Thunderbird/Formula. Before the end of the decade the company started to focus on off shore deep-V boats. The company made boats in California until 1981 and also had a presence in Florida.

Then in In March of 1988, Thunderbird/Formula consolidated corporate and production headquarters in a brand new facility in Decatur, Indiana. Formula continued to grow and evolve in the 345,000 square-foot plant, and, in September 2000, production capacity was expanded with a 143,500 square-foot addition. And again in 2006, Formula expanded with an 85,000 square-foot addition. Corporate, sales and production are all under one roof in a 575,000 square foot facility, ensuring ongoing collaboration in creating each boat. From facility additions to the development of new boat lines, Sun Sports in 1994, FAS³TECHs in 1997, Super Sports in 1999, Yachts in 2002, and Crossovers in 2012.

Formula Boats became noted for industry innovations such as tempered glass curved windshields in 1984. In 2021, it released the 500 Super Sport Crossover, the first boat equipped with quadruple Mercury V12 7.6L Verado 600-hp outboards.

Vic and Christine Porter

Porter was married to his wife Christine for 71 years. Together they had six children, five of whom are actively involved in the business.

He was also very active in the community.

Over the years he served with a number of organizations such as the local Chamber of Commerce, and area Boy Scouts. He helped spearhead the development and funding of Decatur’s Industrial Park. He was Adams County’s Republican Party chairman from 1973-1975, and was on the board of directors of the county hospital.

In earlier years he was a volunteer fireman and helped coordinate a high school drug awareness program. He also served on the board of directors of Indiana Central College, the Cole Foundation Board and on various committees of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. The Porter Family Foundation provides philanthropic funding to local schools, churches and charities and provided the seed money for the formation of Woodcrest, a local not-for-profit retirement community. The Foundation donated the land for the new hospital in Decatur, as well as aiding substantially in funding an oncology center. He and Kristine also established an ongoing fund through the Adams County Community Foundation to benefit community projects.

“We all need to be involved in our community, because we each have something to offer,” Vic said. “We also need to help our young people become entrepreneurs — inspiring them as we have been inspired by others along the way. Opportunities exist, and with commitment, sacrifice and passion, we can accomplish much.”

His funeral will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 30, 2021, at First United Methodist Church in Decatur.

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