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Production Boat vs. Custom Boat

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Old 02-18-2010, 12:11 AM
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Default Production Boat vs. Custom Boat

I'm seeing these terms being thrown around quite a bit and was wondering what this group is considering a production boat (what makes a boat a production boat) and what makes one a custom boat.

My definition would be something like this:

Production boat: Where a dealer or customer basically orders a boat with one or more power options, a list of standard options to choose from. Where you would find a dealer commonly ordering a boat in a certain way to stock as inventory to sell at their dealership.

Custom boat: A company that might have standard power options available, but is willing to discuss custom power options that meet the needs of the customer. Standard list of options, but the manufacturer is extremely open to providing additional options to meet the needs of the customer...not limited to only, but often including the ability to have some mold work re-tooled (example: custom hatch, cutdown deck, catamaran tunnel width changes, etc.), configurations of the boat being redesigned or changed (example: seating, dash panel layout, etc.). Custom laminations.

I don't think a production boat becomes a custom boat when it has a custom paint job or if you were able to convince a builder to embroider something on the seatbacks or change a vinyl color on the interior.

I also believe that a production builder can be known to offer custom boats here and there, but that their main product line-up can be production oriented...their so-called bread and butter. To me, there would be a distinct difference between the boats offered by the same company. That said, I don't think there is necessarily anything wrong with a production boat or that a custom boat would be necessarily better than a quality built production boat.

Just curious what some of you might think as I've read this in some posts and there seems to be some kind of mystiquie that a custom builder is better than a production builder.

Please feel free to site examples of specific builders if you like....I simply chose not to in introducing the topic that I thought might be a worthwhile discussion.
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Old 02-18-2010, 02:19 AM
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Custom builders build a boat to customers specs. They are generally not building boats, except in the basic stages, until someone has committed to buy it. They do have a demo boat or 2 they build and sell eventually. Many are factory direct sales or they have a small dealer network.

Production Builders build boats pretty much all the time in more of an assembly line fashion. They sell them mainly through a dealer network and require dealers to order so much $$$ worth of boats per year. You can still custom order a lot of options and have the boat completed to your specs, but generally most people buy whats in stock.
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Old 02-20-2010, 12:01 AM
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Looks like we pretty much agree on this one...I guess I really wonder why so many people get into the custom vs. production boat issue...I think it's pretty apparent which is which and beyond that I don't see the importance. I noticed it on a few threads I've read lately.
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Old 02-20-2010, 12:16 AM
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So far I think you have the details mostly nailed.

Personally Ive owned about half a dozen boats half custom half production, and growing up with production boats and would never go back to production after going the custom route.

Being able to design almost every aspect of your personal ride is one thing.

the detailing and entry level components is just one aspect- we can go on about that.....You can usually modify everything the bottom, but its happened before for the right amount of money.

Balsa, Foam, Carbon, Kevlar, gel, paint- you pick it.

Power- how fast can you afford to go?

One of the most notable differences is the relationship that gets forged with the owners of the custom boat company.

Its like being part of a family vs. having a hull#

Pantera, Active thunder, Laveycraft, Schiada....... all the customs east and west have cult like followings because of their gear and the relationships they forge with clients.

Some of these companies have been in business since the 50's.


Great thread BTW.

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Old 02-20-2010, 11:55 PM
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I agree with what you're saying, they do form a cult like following, but that said, Fountain Powerboats also had a very cult like following...in the late 90's early 00's it was like a religion...Reggie was their leader and they all followed him.

It is nice having some say in how you're boat's going to look though...afterall, it's a lot of money to drop down so it might as well have your personality in it. I think, like you, most people who purchase a custom built boat usually end up staying on the side for additional purchases.
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Old 02-21-2010, 08:39 AM
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Great thread. Some successful custom boat companies were noted. Who would make the top five production boat companies? I also believe most of the larger volume custom boat companies still produce the majority of their boats in a production criteria build. (They build the boat before they have a buyer.)
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Old 02-21-2010, 11:11 AM
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I think it's hard to define the top 5 production builders without pinning down exactly what kind of boat...let's say offshore style boats vs. your standard runabouts vs. cruisers vs. West Coast type boats.

I agree with you're saying Plum Crazy...there are a lot of companies that are customer builders that the majority of their boats are spec'ed, built and completed with no customer input. I think they're just known for the ability to work with a customer start to finish when that method is desired.
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Old 02-21-2010, 01:15 PM
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Top production boat builders

Fountain, Formula, Donzi, Velocity, Nordic, and Eliminator (if you consider them a production builder)

Most of them will also do a custom build as well.
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Old 02-21-2010, 01:23 PM
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I'd say Baja deserves a spot in there...........forgot Fountain bought them...oh and the same guys that bought Fountain bought Donzi (or rumor has it). I guess what I'm saying is with a custom builder you can avoid some of the coperate BS that's only looking at the bottom dollar. Not that custom builders are not in it to make money...of course they are...but I think they will bend a bit more to meet the customers needs because they don't have to answer to the bean counter.

Last edited by jdub; 02-21-2010 at 01:48 PM.
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