Barletta Boat Co., LLC President and Co-Owner Bill Fenech wants to use his 30-plus years of recreational vehicle experience give the pontoon segment of the boating industry a hard shake that quickly makes waves.
“The boating industry is way behind the RV industry,” Fenech said. “In the next 10 years, we are going to see a different way of doing business.”
Fenech’s most recent business venture was Grand Design RV Company (GDRV), a company he started with his brother, Ron, and good friend Don Clark.
The three business partners grew GDRV from a start-up to an established company with $500 million in wholesale sales in just four years. In 2016, GDRV was purchased by Winnebago, which opened the door for Fenech to focus on a new venture into the marine industry.
Barletta came to life in June 2017. The company’s 110,000 square-foot manufacturing facility is located on 37 acres a few miles northeast of Bristol, Ind. Starting with empty buildings, and room to expand, Fenech said the Barletta team is focused on building a world-class manufacturing facility utilizing the most technologically advanced fabrication equipment available to help insure quality, efficiency, and innovation.
“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 invested in the best equipment out there,” he added, referring to 17 Dynasty 280 TIG welding machines that will help operators track and maintain high levels of quality and productivity.
The first critical production and product delivery milestone on Barletta’s 2018 calendar was completing two boats for a Jan. 10 to Jan. 14 product launch at the Chicago Boat Show.
According to Jeff Roth, vice president of marketing, production ramp-up will be measured to insure the company can adequately supply its dealer network with boats needed to attack respective markets.
“Dealer response to our products, and our approach, has been overwhelmingly positive,” Fenech said. “We are going to keep it simple. We are going to treat our dealers like true partners,” he said. “Right now, you just don’t feel that on the pontoon side of the business.”
Barletta’s certification process with the National Marine Manufacturers Association was scheduled for completion in early January. “We’re planning to have eight floorplans with our L-Class lineup ready for retail,” Fenech said.
Barletta plans to develop the most innovative pontoon helm in the industry, Fenech said, adding the company has special plans for cup holders and cooler space.
“We’re going to integrate pull-out food and water pet bowls into the helm,” Fenech said. “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.”