Alongside the industry, NMMA is mourning the loss of longtime owner and chairman emeritus of Formula Boats, Vic Porter. Porter, a 2016 recipient of the NMMA Hall of Fame Award, passed away at the age of 90 on Oct. 24.
In an announcement, Formula Boats honored Vic as "the heart" of the company, who transformed Formula Boats into the world-renowned brand it is today. A lifelong boater, his career was defined by his passion for boating and determination to improve the design and quality of boats.
Vic began his career in the marine industry in 1957 as a salesman. Dissatisfied with the quality of the product he represented, he decided that he could build a better boat. In 1958, he borrowed $3,000 and founded Duo Marine in Decatur, Indiana. The company’s first model boat was a 14-ft. twin outboard powered catamaran, which was followed by several runabout craft, tri-hulls, and a tunnel-hulled craft. As Vic grew the company, he acquired the Aqua Swan aluminum boat and Crownline runabout brands and moved production of both lines to Decatur. Vic sold Duo Marine to Bangor Punta, owner of Starcraft Boats in 1967, and remained president of Duo until 1970.
In 1970, Vic founded Signa Corp., his second boat company, which manufactured both inboard and outboard powered tri-hull boats. Vic sold Signa to Fuqua Industries, the parent company of Thunderbird/Formula boats in 1973, and served as President of Thunderbird/Formula/Signa for three years, ultimately purchasing the three lines in 1976.
Back at the helm, Vic steered the company and Formula brand to a position of world-renowned recognition for design and quality. The company grew into a dedicated workforce of 600 employees in a 345,000 sq. ft. facility (now 500,000 sq. ft.) that housed product engineering, design, production, sales, marketing and management under one roof. In 1989, as family members stepped into executive roles, Vic settled in as Chairman.
Throughout his career, Vic was involved with organizations that benefit the marine industry. He was active in the BIA (Boating Industry Association) when it merged with the NAEBM (National Association of Engine and Boat Manufacturers) to become the NMMA (National Marine Manufacturers Association). He served on the boards of both the BIA and the NMMA.
Vic long supported and worked to improve the community that is home to Thunderbird Products, spearheading the development and funding of Decatur’s industrial park, serving on the Indiana Central College (now University of Indianapolis) board, the Anthony Wayne Boy Scout Council, Cole Foundation and Adams Memorial Hospital, to name just a few. Recognition of his efforts include the Indiana Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award and the Stephen Decatur Award. He was inducted into the Junior Achievement Greater Fort Wayne Business Hall of Fame and was named a Sagamore of the Wabash by Governor Otis Bowen. Thunderbird received the Decatur Chamber of Commerce Large Business of the Year Award in 2000.