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Catching Up With Nor-Tech’s Trond Schou

Ask Trond Schou if he ever thought performance-oriented center consoles would become the bread and butter for Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Powerboats, the Florida-based company he founded with fellow Norwegian Nils Johnson in 1989, and he’ll shake his head and laugh. But that is the present and in all likelihood future reality for Nor-Tech, In fact, the company can’t produce enough of them.

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Schou (center) and company have adapted Nor-Tech’s offerings to meet changing consumer demands, which translates to performance center consoles from 34 to 56 feet long.

“Last year, we did 80 boats,” he said during this week’s Nor-Tech dealer meeting in Cape Coral, Fla. “Hopefully, this year we are going to do 100. We should have the new 50,000-square-foot facility in Cape Coral up and running by August. The sales are there. We can’t build them fast enough.”

To be sure, that’s a high-class problem and one Schou is delighted to have. And while he didn’t necessarily see the wholesale change to his business model coming, he did see valid reasons for it.

“The other product market was fading out, it think, and even more so after the big financial crisis in 2007,” he said. “I think people wanted boats that made more sense economically, boats that were reliable and dependable. So you had people coming to center consoles from big cruiser and the high-performance markets.

“We are creating boats that are fun for the whole family,” he continued. “You can poker run them. You can fish them. You can party on them. Our center consoles have all the elements required for being a fun boat.”

Compounding the reduced demand for Nor-Tech’s catamarans and V-bottoms were factors beyond the company’s control. According to Schou, the liability insurances associated with building high-performance catamarans makes them prohibitively expensive to produce. As for the company’s V-bottom sportboats, demand simply fell off as it did for much of high-performance powerboat market.

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“We have a couple in production, a 477 with Mercury Racing 1550/1350 engines and a 42 Monte Carlo with Mercury Racing 1100s we’re building,” he said.

Schou predicts more growth—literally and figuratively—ahead for the center console segment.

“The boats are getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “Right now, we build center consoles up to 56 feet and people are still asking us for bigger boats. We have built two 80-footers (sport yachts) before. So although we don’t have the capacity to build an 80-foot center console, we do have the hull tooling.

“Nils still does all the designing and he’s always coming up with new idea,” he added, then grinned. “We have some new concepts in the pipeline, but we don’t want to talk about those yet.”

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