New pontoon-boat builder forms in US

Tue Feb 13 2018, 16:00 PM

Barletta Boat Company plans to bring recreational vehicle production techniques to boating industry

Bill Fenech, president of the recently launched Barletta Boat Company, says he plans to use his experience in the recreational vehicle industry to give the pontoon-boat segment a “hard shake” to establish the new brand. “The boating industry is way behind the RV industry,” Fenech said in a statement. “In the next 10 years, we are going to see a different way of doing business.”

Fenech’s most recent business was Grand Design RV Company (GDRV), a company he started with his brother, Ron, and Don Clark. The company had US$500m in wholesale sales in four years. It was purchased in 2016 by Winnebago.

Barletta was launched last June and currently has a 110,000sq ft manufacturing facility on 37 acres in Bristol, Indiana. Fenech said the company will build a world-class manufacturing facility with advanced fabrication equipment.

“We were fortunate to get some of the best welders and fabricators in the industry,” Fenech said. “Many of them have set up other major manufacturers. We’ve also invested in the best equipment.”

Production of its boats began in December and the company expects to ramp up production through the spring. It showed two new models in January at the Chicago Boat Show. The company is currently signing dealers.

“We’re planning to have eight floorplans with our L-Class lineup ready for retail,” Fenech said. “We’re going to integrate pull-out food and water pet bowls into the helm. Our cup holders will handle a 20-ounce or 30-ounce Yeti Tumbler. We’ll also have an easily accessible cooler in the back that will handle the Yeti Hopper Flip 18 soft-sided cooler.”