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Factory Tour - Kingfisher Boats & Canada's Rugged West Coast Style


Kingfisher Boats factory
Baxter Bolton, VP of Sales & Product (left), and Rick Layzell (right)

Originally founded in Fort Erie, Ontario, HarberCraft has been building quality aluminum boats since 1959. The company and their brands have utilized smart, strategic growth to position themselves as well-earned leaders in the welded aluminum category.

It’s worth a few moments to celebrate some of the milestones in their success story over the last 60+ years.

1959 HarberCraft launch boat building for Simpson Sears stores

1980 First robotic welder in Canada for small parts

1992 Byron & Sheryl Bolton acquire the company

1994 First all welded boat rolls off the line using Pre-Flex hull technology

1995 KingFisher Boats introduced

1997 350-ton brake press installed – largest in Western Canada

2001 Merges with Eagle Power Boats & acquires Jetcraft in the USA

2002 WestWinn Group established to oversee brand growth

2009 WestWinn Center of Excellence opens – consolidating all operations

2012 Acquires Renasissance Marine Group in Clakston, WA

2015 2nd shift added at plant to support 30% sales increase

2017 Acquires Brix Marine in Port Angeles, WA – custom welded recreational boats & aluminum catamarans

2019 Acquires Daigle Marine – builders of Eaglecraft luxury custom aluminum boats

2021 Acquires All American Marine in Bellingham, WA – award winning aluminum boat builder

2022 KingFisher Boats adds 20,000 sq. ft. to enhance Offshore model production

Throughout all these impressive milestones, their R&D teams have worked tirelessly to bring a steady stream of new models to the market. That commitment to constantly evolving their core lineup is further backed by an incredible commitment to developing their people.

We had the pleasure of experiencing a KingFisher Boats factory tour with Baxter Bolton, the newly appointed VP of Sales & Product. Walking through the plant there is a very clear sense of passion and teamwork – it’s a ‘top down’ commitment to teamwork across all 180 employees that makes this possible.

KingFisher offers a total of 5 unique series with 30 models that serve the lake, river and ocean markets across North America. The focus on 30 models across the entire lineup supports their collective desire to deliver uncompromising craftsmanship and quality.

The process of building welded aluminum boats is where their passion becomes art - where the people who do the hard work on the factory floor put their stamp on each hull. It starts at the receiving door where sheets of aluminum in varying thicknesses are delivered twice per week. This base material then moves through one of 3 CNC (computer numerical control) cutting machines where precision cutting reigns supreme. The materials then move to one of several brake presses (the 350 ton model is a monster, and there’s more machine ‘under the concrete floor’ than there is above it). Using a press to form the hull shape minimizes much of the typical welding on the hull bottom in order to create a stronger hull.

Three stages of production await every model. Stage one is hull shaping, stage two is where the ‘guts’ of the boat are installed (think wiring, foam flotation, plumbing, etc), and stage three is final finishes including dashboards, paint, and detailing. Despite the rigid and structured process, KingFisher prides itself on being able to build to order – part of their commitment to customer service excellence that emphasizes an enhanced buying and ownership experience.

As we made our way through the Centre of Excellence, that sense of pride, passion, and teamwork was everywhere. With all the greetings and waving going on I thought I was on the water already!

Their three paint booths were actively in motion, applying a combination of primer, basecoat, Zolotone or Armor Coat, and a final finish coat. But before that process even starts, each boat goes through a new and unique vapor blasting procedure. Using a combination of liquid and glass particles, this process improves hull and deck quality and consistency. For a boat owner, the benefit is highly improved paint adherence, meaning your boat will look great for years.

The two new buildings opening in 2022 for the Offshore Series allow the staff to focus on high-end, stunning watercraft within their own environment. The attention to detail in the development of these buildings is very evident – the lighting, overhead cranes and systems are all state of the art. Even the HVAC system was designed with employees in mind.

Their commitment to the environment and conservation has always been part of the company’s foundation, and Baxter quickly and proudly pointed out to us the shoreline enhancements made during the construction of the new buildings. Hundreds of trees were planted to create an environment for birds and waterfowl, and two turtle nesting stations were created to support the lives of all these precious animals.

Through passion, commitment and carefully structured growth strategies the success here is undeniable. With a strong leadership team and an exceptional commitment to developing their 180 team members, the KingFisher Boats brand is well positioned to continue its market growth in North America.

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