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Boat maker bought out

Canada's biggest all-welded aluminum boat manufacturer has agreed to buy controlling interest in Medford's Jetcraft Boats, creating the largest such company in North America.

Harbercraft needed to be part owner of a company in the U.S., Jetcraft President Bruce Wassom said Wednesday. — think it will be a phenomenal marriage.

We have a lot of sales and marketing expertise they don't have. They have tremendous technical skills. They have state-of-the-art equipment. We will send them a design, they can cut and bend the aluminum, they'll send it down and we'll assemble it.

Jetcraft, owned by Wassom and Mike Corbett, built 350 boats last year, many of them highly customized, with sales topping $8 million. The new company is expected to build close to 2,500 units, with a wide range of product lines, with sales of $20 million this year. The new company has more than 120 employees and factory space capacity of more than 75,000 square feet.

Harbercraft/Eagles president and CEO ron Bolton said acquiring interest in Jetcraft was one in a series of strategic steps to market leadership.

We could continue to chip away at the Pacific Northwest market and some day be successful, but we wanted to take advantage of the advanced technology and some of the patents we have developed, said the 38-year-old Bolton, who bought Harbercraft 10 years ago. In our opinion, it was a real smart thing to team-up with Jetcraft, because the name carries so much credibility. That's also where our competitors are.

Harbercraft, Eagle Power Boats and Eagle Marine consolidated in February to become the largest welded aluminum boat manufacturer within the Pacific Northwest and within Canada. Former Eagle owner Rob Chrunyk is now vice president of operations.

Bolton declined to say what or where the company's next move would be.

Strategically, we want to dominate Northwest Canada and then, No. 2, the Pacific Northwest. We still have to prove ourselves. We don't want to talk too aggressively because we take our competition very seriously.

Because Jetcraft retains its identity, it becomes a bigger player as well.

Wassom, 54, retains his share of ownership although Harbercraft holds an option to buy him out in five years. Corbett sold his interest in the Jetcraft, but will become vice president of sales and U.S. operations.

Wassom said the deal will allow the Jetcraft plant at 1111 E. Vilas Road to double its production over the next five years and significantly increase its work force as well.

Once a drift boat builder, the company has shifted to powerboats with inboard motors in recent years. Law enforcement and other government agencies represent much of the company's business.

That's because of the flexibility we have to do custom items from special light bars to special doors for diving teams coming in and out, and fire nozzles.

Jetcraft boats patrol lakes and rivers from coast to coast. There are 12 Jetcraft boats patrolling Lake Shasta alone.

But the merger boosts Jetcraft's access to an additional 60 dealers - up from the current 15.

They needed to come to the U.S., Wassom said. There are 30 million people in Canada and 30 million people in California alone.

The subject was first broached two years ago, but talks got serious three months ago.

The employees at both companies, are extremely excited, Wassom said. They know this is going to take both companies to the next level.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail

Boat maker bought out