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Catching Up With Fountain Powerboats’ Jeff Harris

Introduced in late 2019 and dressed in vibrant interior and exterior colors, Fountain Powerboats’ 34- and 38-foot outboard Sport Consoles have been the hottest things to come out of the Washington, N.C., factory since Jeff Harris became the company’s chief operation’s officer earlier that year. Fountain dealers Big Thunder Marine of Lake Ozarks, Mo., and Days Boat Sales in Frankfort, Ky., have been moving them briskly, and if you order one right now you’re likely going to have to wait a bit.

The 38 Sport Console (above) and its 38-foot sibling have become two of Fountain’s hottest sellers. Photos by Mark Spencer copyright Fountain Powerboats.

This is a very good problem for any powerboat builder, especially one with an actual dealer network, to have. Harris, an industry veteran and offshore powerboat racer of significance, is keenly aware of the company’s good fortune with the Sport Console line of Fountain center consoles, which ride on the builder’s proven 34- and 38-foot hulls.

Relatively new to the Fountain dealer network, Bonita Boat Center of Bonita Springs, Fla., sold its first Sport Console with a few days of taking delivery of the boat to a walk-in customer who initially came in to buy a more-traditional center console from another builder.

“He walked right past everything else and said, ‘What is that? Can I get a sea trial?’said Harris during a telephone interview earlier this week. “He bought it two days later.”

A closer look at the Fountain 38 SC.

Harris and the rest of Fountain team were confident the Sport Console line would appeal to buyers. But even they’ve been pleasantly surprised.

“I knew it would be popular, but I didn’t know it would be quite this popular,” Harris said, then chuckled. “They’re sporty-looking, and at the end of the day what is Fountain if not a sportboat company? The Baby Boomers who grew up with Fountain sportboats, now they have kids and grandkids so they appeal to the Boomer market. They want a boat that looks good and performs well—and can hold 10 or more.

“A big part of that success is the job our guys have done with fit and finish, and my hat is off to our team,” he continued. “A couple of years back when I came on board, I charged them to be become the crème de la crème with fit and finishing and rigging. And they’ve done a fantastic job.”

Jeff Harris (in blue polo), “At the end of the day, what is Fountain if not a sportboat company?”

Harris said the Fountain 39 NX and 43 NX models also have become strong sellers in the center console segment. On the dedicated performance-boat front, Fountain’s new 42 Lightning is almost complete and the company is working on its 34 Thunder Cat. They also recently added a new wraparound windshield to the new 38 ZRC from Donzi, Fountain’s sister company.

Harris and his team have been running flat out to make it all happen.

“We’ve been concentrating on getting them out the doors faster,” he said. “We have a nice backlog of orders.”

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