Brunswick Buys Aluminum Boatbuilder THUNDER JET

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jimh
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Brunswick Buys Aluminum Boatbuilder THUNDER JET

Postby jimh » Fri Jul 08, 2016 9:56 am

Brunswick have reversed a decade-long trend of shedding boat building operations and have announced they acquired THUNDER JET, a builder of aluminum boats based in Clarkston, Washington, for an undisclosed amount. THUNDER JET make welded aluminum plate boats that use outboard and inboard-jet propulsion, in hulls from 18 to 26-feet. See

http://www.thunderjet.com/

Of the many outboard model boats pictured on their website, most are equipped with a Yamaha outboard engine. THUNDER JET describe themselves as follows:

Established in Clarkston, Washington, in 1981, Thunder Jet began with founder Darrell Mills heading up sales, his wife Liana doing the books, and employing one welder, rig tech, and painter. In their first year they produced just five boats, but that is all it took and Thunder Jet was the latest industry buzz.

Thirty years and over 6,000 boats later, Thunder Jet now holds the position as one of the most successful aluminum boating companies to ever exist, a direct result of their superior product and continued efforts improve and adapt to the ever changing boating community’s needs.

Today Thunder Jet is the most advanced heavy gauge aluminum boat builder in North America. By utilizing and investing in the newest and best in equipment, people, and practices, Thunder Jet Boats are the highest quality, best finished, and best valued boats available today. Our commitment is to continue finding and investing in better ways to make high quality aluminum boats affordable, fuel efficient, resilient, and appealing, so that more people can enjoy the experiences that boating can offer.


Brunswick's press release from July 5, 2016 explains their motivation for this acquisition. Because Brunswick is a publicly traded company, I would expect they will eventually disclose to their investors the price of this acquisition in some SEC filing, although their comment that his acquisition "will have minimal impact on earnings" perhaps foreshadows they'll keep the price a secret.

kwik_wurk
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Re: Brunswick Buys Aluminum Boatbuilder THUNDER JET

Postby kwik_wurk » Fri Jul 08, 2016 11:00 am

"Sleds" as they are called out here, are super popular, and by my unofficial count definitely outnumber glass boats in hulls below 24-feet sold. On the rare day that I fish in fresh water with the Montauk, I am one of a handfull of glass boats, everything else is aluminum.

People out here fish in rivers and, with jets (I/O or outboard), are free to run in [water depths of about] 9-inches no problem. A few friends have them, and regularly bounce off rocks and stumps, andhave gone over river bars with only three to four inches of water--almost like a drift boat. Plus [if] you hit a dead head in open water all you get is a dent, since these are heavy gauge.

There are several manufacturers out here, and some have branched into bigger boats for offshore and landing craft for our remote islands.

jimh
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Re: Brunswick Buys Aluminum Boatbuilder THUNDER JET

Postby jimh » Fri Jul 08, 2016 5:05 pm

KWIK'--have you heard of or have you seen THUNDER JET boats?

Prior to this announcement of the sale of THUNDER JET to Brunswick, I had never heard that brand name before. Is it a prominent brand in the Northwest USA and Canada?

kwik_wurk
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Re: Brunswick Buys Aluminum Boatbuilder THUNDER JET

Postby kwik_wurk » Sun Jul 10, 2016 4:22 pm

When in the pacific northwest and when I am on the saltwater and there are more than 12-boats under 24-feet long, one to five of them will likely be a Thunder Jet or a North River or an Alumaweld boat. In the pacific northwest on fresh water of same size, about three to five of ten boats are going to be of similar style.

Most of the boats of this style have conventional outboards, not jets. Makes them a bit more versatile.

These [welded plate aluminum boats] are not to be compared to Tracker or Lund brand aluminum boats. They are basically a west-coast niche-market boat that can have broader appeal, in my opinion; kinda like how party barges are really common now.

Hoosier
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Re: Brunswick Buys Aluminum Boatbuilder THUNDER JET

Postby Hoosier » Mon Jul 11, 2016 9:00 am

These look like they are in the same class as the Stanley boats we see up in Canada.
1978 Outrage V20 with 2004 Suzuki DF-115. 1992 23 Walkaround with two 2010 Yamaha F-150s.

jimh
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Re: Brunswick Buys Aluminum Boatbuilder THUNDER JET

Postby jimh » Fri Jul 15, 2016 11:50 pm

I am familiar with welded plate aluminum boats with jet drives and their popularity in the northwest U.S.A and Canada. I am mainly interested to know if anyone reading the thread is acquainted with THUNDER JET boats. I invite readers to comment on the THUNDER JET boat brand and where it lands in the general market of these boats. I suspect the THUNDER JET boat is probably an expensive boat, at the higher end of the market. Brunswick has learned from Boston Whaler that in the new boat sales era that Everyman is not the target buyer. The target buyer is the guy with $150,000 in spare change in his wallet.

It seems that currently THUNDER JET make a lot of models with outboard engines. Are the outboard engine models usually propeller-driven boats? Or do they fit some sort of jet drive on them?

Brunswick have never bought a small boat building company that they did not see as a new place to put their Mercury-brand engines on the transom. This deal looks to me to be a way to cut out Yamaha and Honda from being sold on the transom of THUNDER JET boats. That is the only real parlay for Mercury and Brunswick. Brunswick really has no background in manufacturing of welded aluminum plate boats that I know about. I expect that in a year or two THUNDER JET boats will be sold only with Mercury outboards and only with MERCRUISER inboards.

Hoosier
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Re: Brunswick Buys Aluminum Boatbuilder THUNDER JET

Postby Hoosier » Sat Jul 16, 2016 7:11 am

Mercury makes jet drive lower units for some of their outboards, and Brunswick has lots of experience with working with aluminum through their Harris Pontoon boat division.
1978 Outrage V20 with 2004 Suzuki DF-115. 1992 23 Walkaround with two 2010 Yamaha F-150s.

jimh
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Re: Brunswick Buys Aluminum Boatbuilder THUNDER JET

Postby jimh » Sat Jul 16, 2016 7:47 am

KWIK writes:

Most of the boats of this style have conventional outboards, not jets.


Thanks for the information that most of the outboard engines on these THUNDER JET (and other) welded aluminum plate boats are using propellers. I also take it from your comments that THUNDER JET is a popular brand.

jimh
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Re: Brunswick Buys Aluminum Boatbuilder THUNDER JET

Postby jimh » Sat Jul 16, 2016 7:59 am

HOOSIER--I think more craftsmanship is needed to make a complex V-hull shape from welded aluminum plate than is needed to make a pontoon boat with tubular hull sections, although I suppose both need a lot of good welds of aluminum material.

The location of manufacturers of welded aluminum plate boats in the northwest USA region is probably related to the type of shallow river boating done out there, and, perhaps, to the availability of skilled welders--maybe laid off from the aircraft manufacturing industries.

drycreekvalley
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Re: Brunswick Buys Aluminum Boatbuilder THUNDER JET

Postby drycreekvalley » Mon Oct 31, 2016 1:43 pm

I am a Thunder Jet and Boston Whaler owner here in the NW. Here in the Seattle area Alumaweld, North River, and Duckworth seem to be the boats I see most on the water. I had every intention of adding North River to my small fleet but at last years Seattle boat show I got a chance to get my hands on a Thunder Jet for the first time. I was super impressed with the build quality compared with the other popular brands and ended up purchasing a Thunder Jet.

These popularity of this boat style has grown tremendously in the past 10 years or so here in the PNW. My observation is that brand loyalty is still somewhat regional. i.e. Hewescraft has a strong following north of Seattle up to Alaska, North River is popular Seattle down to Northern CA, Thunder Jet Oregon and Washington, etc.

Most of these manufactures make what are referred to as sleds as well as "windshield boats". Sleds are often jet powered and windshields these days mostly outboard powered. There are exceptions to both configurations but in general this is the case. 2004 and previous nearly all of these boats were jet powered and mostly by inboards, that has changed considerably.

Ridge Runner
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Re: Brunswick Buys Aluminum Boatbuilder THUNDER JET

Postby Ridge Runner » Wed Nov 02, 2016 4:55 pm

THUNDER JET has started to make a strong name for itself in some commercial and government markets. This acquisition positions Brunswick's Commercial division with an experienced smaller sized plate aluminum boat builder already in the government markets. The USCG's boat are mostly Marine-grade, plate, aluminum alloy. In places where boats are used 200, 300, 500, 1000 hours a year in the most adverse conditions possible the choice is almost invariably aluminum.

In the Brunswick commercial line your have, Boston Whaler - fiberglass boats, Impact - RIB boats, Sentry 30' - 40' aluminum boats and now possibly THUNDER JET in the 18' - 26' class.

THUNDER JET also brings some interesting technology to Brunswick - Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene bottom coatings.

As a side note - since Jim's July 8th post the boats on THUNDER JET'S website have all seemed to have been "enhanced" with Mercury outboards via Photoshop: http://www.thunderjet.com/boat/luxor-offshore/
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jimh
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Re: Brunswick Buys Aluminum Boatbuilder THUNDER JET

Postby jimh » Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:14 am

Being able to sell boats to the federal, state, and local government agencies that want work boats is a very good business, albeit a competitive one. But if you get the contract award, particularly for delivery of a large number of the same boat, I suspect that selling into commercial and government markets is quite profitable. And in the USA in particular, there seems to be plenty of money to be spent by law enforcement for on-the-water assets.