DECATUR, Ind. (WANE) – In the small town of Decatur lies a giant manufacturing plant where top-of-the-line boats are made.
Formula Boats’ plant is about 580,000 square feet and builds boats that range from 24 feet long to 50 feet long.
Formula currently makes and sells 15 different models across the United States and the world.
“We are proud to be a family-owned company that focuses on quality,” said Scott Porter, president of Formula Boats.
Porter’s father, Vic Porter, founded the company in 1956 and is still operated by members of the family.
The company was originally located in Miami, Florida and then moved to Decatur in 1958. He said the decision was made in order to consolidate its factories and have larger space to build.
“This is a great area for craftsmanship and offers better opportunities for our premium branding,” he said.
The current plant Formula is at opened in 1988. About 250 boats are being produced per year with the majority now being sold domestically. They used to sell more boats to international buyers, but have cautioned due to issues they have dealt with when it comes to international tariffs.
He said they faced 25% tariffs that made it harder for them to do business around the world.
“We have focused more on domestic customers,” he added.
Much of the customer base is primarily from the northeast, but has shifted towards Florida because many people in the northeast have moved to the state.
He pointed to the pandemic having an impact on its business and shifted demand to different parts of the country.
Formula does get some business throughout the Midwest. He said they get plenty of customers in Missouri and Oklahoma.
Formula has a network of dealers across the United States that potential customers can reach out to. They primarily do factory sales, where they build the boat and ship it directly to the customer. The company has trucks and trailers to ship them to different parts of the country.
After shipping the boat to customers, they spend several showing them how to use the boat
“Most of our customers already know what they want and are able to customize it how they like it,” he said. “We have a program called Formula Flex, where people can customize what fabrics and colors they want.”
They also do trades for people who want to turn in their boat and upgrade to a newer model.
Over the years, Porter has seen changes in what customers want in a boat. He said people used to want cruising boats that they would take out for days and would want cabin space included.
“You don’t many people wanting to take vacations on their boats anymore, people are busy now and often just take out their boats for the day, so they don’t prefer cabin space in them,” he said.
What’s also changed is the amount of technology inside of boats now. Many of Formula’s models are equipped with large screens, stereos and can operate the boat’s lighting from a tablet.
“Some of our models include night vision cameras to help people navigate the boats when it’s dark,” he said. “Stereos are a popular feature in our boats now. People like to listen to music on them.”
Porter applauds the engineering team that designs their models and are able to craft a great product.
“A lot of our boats are man made with only a little bit of automation,” he said.