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How Nor-Tech Spawned SoFlo Boats

Hanging out and chatting with Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats dealers this week at the company’s dealer meeting in Cape Coral, Fla., it’s easy to see their passion for the brand and its co-founders Trond Schou and Nils Johnson. While Johnson is the creative genius behind the Fort Myers, Fla.-headquartered performance-oriented center console, V-bottom sportboat, catamaran and sport-yacht company, the colorful Schou is its public face. Their roles have not changed since they started the company in 1989.

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Bob Crow (left) built an entire business based on the Nor-Tech center consoles built by Trond Schou, Nils Johnson and the team at the company they founded.

And no one Nor-Tech appreciates Schou and Johnson more than Bob Crow, the co-founder of SoFlo Boats—shorthand for South Florida Performance Boats—in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. With a long history in the commercial ship diving service and the yacht construction industry, Crow co-founded SoFlo Boats in 2012 with Nor-Tech as the dealership’s only line.

“We built an entire company around Nor-Tech,” he said. “We opened SoFlo Boats after we took a demo ride in the first Nor-Tech 39 center console ever built. My business partner and I quickly understood that its bottom was different—the ride was super good, and super dry. And with our involvement in the yacht market, we knew we had a captive audience. So we put our efforts into selling Nor-Tech center consoles as tenders for larger yachts.”

With the surge in center console popularity, SoFlo Boats’ business quickly grew beyond its original target audience. According to Crow, between sold boats and dealer demo boats he currently has $17 million worth of Nor-Tech center console product on the books this year.

“We don’t have any trouble selling dealer inventory, especially demo boats,” Crow said. “The buyers get a little break on price and they know we ran and tested those boats thoroughly.

“Our bread and butter is the 39 Nor-Tech, but the 34 has caught up with it,” he continued. “We built one with triple (Mercury Racing) Verado 400s that will run just shy of 90 mph. While that boat is probably too fast for the average family, it created a lot of excitement around the 34. Most people are ordering it now with triple (Mercury Marine Verado) 350s and it runs 80 to 82 mph, which is plenty fast.”

Crow said he sees no signs of the center console boom going bust. In fact, he believes the segment is still evolving and growing.

“I see it going in two directions,” he said. “One is refinement to current models based on specific customer requests. Center consoles are becoming more mission-specific.

“On the other end, guys are wanting bigger and bigger center consoles,” he continued. “Our 45-foot Nor-Tech center console buyers are asking us if we can build something in the 65-foot range. Between Trond’s clients and mine, I think we have six people with requests for a 65-foot Nor-Tech, which doesn’t even exist.”

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