After three years behind closed warehouse doors and disconnected phone lines, Warrior Boats, once a renowned fiberglass fishing boat manufacturing company, announced they are back in business. This new venture is surfacing questions within the marine industry on how safe the economic waters are for new investments.
Re-spooling the warrior ownership
In 2008, Warrior Boats ceased operations after previous Owner Dan Klimek’s intentions to purchase the company from Founder Tom LaTour fell through, leaving the company without a unified leadership to continue production. The Warrior website went offline and rumors began to circulate that rival boat company Yar-Craft may step in to buy the Warrior name. However, during this same time professional walleye fisherman Chuck Barth and Dave Andersen discussed a prospective partnership to keep the Warrior brand in business. “Barth and I have been trying to get the company running for the past year and a half,” says Andersen, 2005 Pro Walleye Tournament (PWT) Championship winner and Warrior customer. When the opportunity to purchase Warrior Boats came to market early this year, Andersen, Barth, and two other fishing fans Joe Hellerman and Al Leinen, entered a bid to secure the future of the company.
Old charm hooks new owners
The new owners are confident in the success of the company because they believe in the Warrior product. According to the group, the Warrior boats, known throughout the fishing world for their successful patented steering technology, run unprecedented horsepower compared similar boat designs. “One of the first things people ask me when they get on my boat is, ‘225 horsepower? Is the sticker on your motor right?’ I get a lot of looks,” laughs Andersen. The Pro-Tiller Hydraulic Remote Steering System allows Andersen’s boat to have quicker, more precise responses compared to that of many other console boats. He attributes his success in the 2005 PWT Championship to his Warrior despite the “nasty, snaggy bottom” and wind he struggled with that day.
“I sold Warrior boats for a number of years,” says investor Joe Hellerman, who studied as a marine technician and now works as a dealer at Melrose Marine & Sports. He bought into the company because he liked the design of the boat and the ride. “The hull design, constructed using traditional open molding lay-up with unidirectional layers of Knytex, is arguably one of the best built-in features,” he says. Warrior also employs fiberglass stringers, uncommon in most fishing boats, to provide support to the straight bottom V-hull, and plywood laminated with fiberglass transoms that run the length of the boat. “I know composites are the wave to the future. They have lightweight properties and offer boat rigidity,” says Hellerman.