Harris FloteBote: A Pontoon Boat Manufacturer
We Began in the '50's, with a "Better Idea"
In 1957, brothers Ernie and Pete Harris founded the company, originally called Harris Manufacturing, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They had been testing their groundbreaking pontoons in the northeast Indiana/southeast Michigan area since the early 1950's with great success. They kept running into water enthusiasts who had taken 55-barrel and drop tanks off airplanes to build up pontoon boats. The more we saw, the more we thought 'Hey, there might be a market for that.' A pontoon boat manufacturer was born.
We decided we wanted to build a more professional-looking boat. We started with the fences, built out of steel. We had a motor mount so you could lower and raise the motor and we got rid of the "barrels" underneath. It looked better! We were pleased with the result, but we still had tubes, everything was steel and flat-nosed (not dolphin-nosed like today). But it was a beginning.
Our Founding Philosophy - Quality that lasts!
We've always wanted to build a first-class boat. The more effort we put into it, the more the quality was added. We had the most expensive pontoon in the business, but we still had up to 60% of the business as a pontoon boat manufacturer. That quality is still strong today - Harris FloteBotes are on the water 10 -15 years later, still looking great.
The Pontoon Market Has Evolved
Starting out, being a pontoon manufacturer was the toughest thing in the world. Dealers weren't that hopped up about it; they needed bigger trailer for it to move everything around. The first year or so, the sales didn't go to the dealers much. We'd drive around the lake and see people sitting in the yard, maybe with children; we asked people if they wanted to ride. They would say, "Where can we get these?" and they'd go see them. Starting out, it wasn't an easy product. It did take a lot of effort.
As time went on, when one guy on the lake got one, the neighbor wanted one too. Word of mouth spread amongst boaters. Pontoon boat manufacturers found that dealers didn't jump on the wagon and promote it as much as people demanded it. A dealer could handle a 16-ft runabout boat - a lot easier than he could handle a 20-ft FloteBote. Dealers couldn't get them in their show rooms. The public really brought about the demand that the dealer would carry them.
Today, we're Part of a Large Family
Harris FloteBote is now part of the worldwide Brunswick family of boats, but the company is still headquartered in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It will always be seen by the people here as a "local business" first... our "local pontoon manufacturer;" "This region and the lakes around here are very much dedicated to the Harris FloteBote brand," says Alan Korte, a local in Clear Lake, Indiana. "A lot of people come into the dealership and say, 'Hey, we've heard a lot about these Harris FloteBotes. They're great quality boats.'"
Harris FlotBote has Earned its Reputation as a Quality Pontoon Boat Manufacturer. Contact us today and Become one of the Family!
Harris FloteBote Milestones
- 2010 - Harris FloteBote introduces the all new Solstice series with modular floorplan and available Transformer Loungers. Never before has the pontoon industry seen anything like this head-turner.
- 2010 - Harris FloteBote awarded the National Marine Manufacturers Association Customer Service Index (CSI) Award for the eighth year in a row.
- 2009 - Harris FloteBote introduces the Cruiser S- and X-series to the lineup. The Cruiser is built with cost-savings in mind, perfect for those consumers who are ready to try life on the water without breaking the bank to get there.
- 2009 - Harris FloteBote awarded the National Marine Manufacturers Association Customer Service Index (CSI) Award for the seventh year in a row.
- 2008 - Harris FloteBote awarded the National Marine Manufacturers Association Customer Service Index (CSI) Award for the sixth year in a row.
- 2008 - Harris FloteBote introduces the brand new Grand Mariner series to the lineup.
- 2007 - Harris FloteBote awarded the National Marine Manufacturers Association Customer Service Index (CSI) Award for the fifth year in a row.
- 2007 - Harris FloteBote awarded the prestigious J.D. Power and Associates awarded for "Highest in customer satisfaction with Pontoon boats".
- 2006 - Harris FloteBote awarded the National Marine Manufacturers Association Customer Service Index (CSI) Award for the fourth year in a row.
- 2005 - Harris FloteBote redesigns the Classic which adds even more value and style to this top-of-the-line FloteBote series.
- 2005 - Brunswick Corporation, a Fortune 500 company, acquires Harris FloteBote. Brunswick Boat Group is the world's largest manufacturer of pleasure boats.
- 2005 - Harris FloteBote awarded the National Marine Manufacturers Association Customer Service Index (CSI) Award for the third year in a row.
- 2004 - Harris FloteBote invents and patents a changing room in the rear seat that does not compromise the spacious interior room or stern entrance.
- 2004 - Harris FloteBote awarded the National Marine Manufacturers Association Customer Service Index (CSI) Award for the second year in a row.
- 2003 - Harris FloteBote, Inc., reenters the Sport Boat market with its Z Series models, while at the same time introducing three new fiberglass Deckboats, all under the Kayot® brand name. This doubles in one year the Kayot® brand's product offerings.
- 2003 - Harris FloteBote awarded the National Marine Manufacturers Association Customer Service Index (CSI) Award.
- 2002 - Harris FloteBote introduces the Crowne. Its unique interior and exterior design again redefines what is possible on a pontoon boat.
- 2001 - Harris Flotebote, Inc., becomes a charter member of a group of manufacturers desiring to Index Customer Satisfaction through a program sponsored by The National Marine Manufacturer's Association (NMMA).
- 2001 - Harris introduces the Cruiser series of FloteBotes, offering more affordable boating with industry-leading quality, construction and features.
- 2000 - Harris Flotebote, Inc., becomes one of the first pontoon manufacturers to become Marine Industry Certified (M.I.C.) as part of an industry-wide program to enhance customer satisfaction.
- 1999 - Harris patents the first power bimini top that raises and lowers with the flip of a switch.
- 1998 - Harris introduces the TTR (Total Torque Reduction) system.
- 1995 - Harris introduces the Liberator, designed for accessibility and use by people who are physically challenged or have special needs. Most of its features are available on several models today.
- 1993 - Harris introduces the HP Classic, a high-performance FloteBote with lifting strakes.
- 1990 - Harris introduces a new FloteBote model called the Classic CF, or "Circle of Fun," the industry's first pontoon boat with a rear entry gate.
- 1988 - Harris patents an interlocking aluminum extruded deck system.
- 1987 - Harris FloteBote introduces the first aluminum, wood-free transom.
- 1987 - Harris FloteBote introduces the Royal Heritage luxury pontoon boat, the first boat of any kind with all rotational-molded furniture bases. The Royal is also the first with rounded bow seating, setting a styling trend lasting more than a decade.
- 1986 - Previously traded on Nasdaq, Jim Poiry, and his immediate family, purchase the outstanding shares of Harris Flotebote, Inc., and return the company to the private sector.
- 1985 - Harris FloteBote brand introduces the Heritage Model - the first pontoon boat with an extended deck, creating a sunlounge over the transom and engine.
- 1983 - Harris Manufacturing purchases Kayot Corporation, America's second-largest manufacturer of fiberglass Deckboats at the time. With this merger, Harris Flotebote, Inc., has two distinct brands; Harris FloteBote and Kayot.
- 1971 - Harris introduces the first pontoon boats powered by sterndrive propulsion.
- 1964 - Harris becomes the first manufacturer to electrochemically protect its aluminum perimeter fence from corrosion through a process known as aluminum anodizing.
- 1959 - Harris invents the "Dolphin" pontoon nose cone, designed to slice through water without the requirement of splash fins.
- 1957 - Founded as Harris Manufacturing by brothers Pete and Ernie Harris on Feb. 7, 1957. Harris produces the world's first pontoon boats manufactured on an assembly line. This passion of the Harris family is trademarked "FloteBote."