We’ve met a lot of colorful characters during our combined 30-plus years covering the high-performance powerboating world, but none are more vibrant than Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats founders Trond Schou and Nils Johnsen. As it happened, their thriving Southwest Florida-based high-performance center console, catamaran and V-bottom sportboat company celebrated its 30th anniversary last year.
And that made Schou and Johnsen shoe-ins as subjects for the first season of our “In The Lead” video series powered by Mercury Racing with backing from Bluave Marine Audio, CP Performance, The Firm Realty Group, Hamilton Marine Finance, Hardin Marine and MYCO Trailers.
Nor-Tech’s Trond Schou (far right) and Nils Johnsen (yellow shirt) have made a big impact on the high-performance powerboat world. Click the image to enjoy the video.
But their story goes beyond one of 30 years of business survival, no mean feat in the high-performance powerboat market. Schou and Johnsen are longtime friends from Norway. They arrived in the states full-time 30-plus years ago with the dream of building a go-fast boat company. They started with big V-bottoms and catamarans, and even entered the yacht market with an 80-footer.
Like almost all go-fast boat builders, they had to reinvent themselves after the 2008 recession. Their purpose-built V-bottoms and catamarans stopped selling, so in 2009 they pivoted and created their first center console, a 39-footer called the 390 Sport.
Not only have they built more than 200 of those beauties, they’ve added a 34-footer, a 50-footer and most recently a 40-footer. To make it happen, Nor-Tech now has two manufacturing facilities—one in Fort Myers and another in Cape Coral—and a national dealer network, as well as a long-standing dealer in Canada, Double R Performance. The company currently employs more than 200 people and is still growing.
Friends from Norway, Trond Schou and Nils Johnsen have complementary yet distinctly different talents and personalities.
Schou is the company’s creative frontman, a total charisma bomb. Nils is Nor-Tech’s designer, intense, direct and brilliant. Together, they are the perfect team—a couple of immigrants who have weathered good times and bad to succeed.
They are a true American success story.
Near the end of the video, Schou talks about getting older and still feeling young. His father, he says, scoffs at that and tells him that when he looks in the mirror he sees an old man.
“So maybe the mirror is a bad thing, maybe we shouldn’t have those around,” Schou says, then laughs. “Because we are still very young at heart.”
Click the image above to watch the video.
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