Following a lengthy battle with cancer, Eddie Borges, the founder and leader of marine and automobile accessory manufacturers Eddie Marine and Eddie Motorsports in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., died at the age of 59 on Sunday, March 6.
Eddie Marine founder Ed Borges passed away on Sunday at age 59. Photos courtesy Eddie Marine
Borges’ impact on the marine and motorsports industries and on the lives of the people he encountered along the way will not be forgotten. He is survived by his wife Patty, his daughters, Donna and Hanna, and his sisters, Zelda and Martina.
According to a statement from Eddie Marine released on Thursday, Borges and his family immigrated to the United States from Portugal in 1971 in search of the American Dream. After building his knowledge of the marine industry with stops at Southern California-based Nicson Engineering Co. and Rex Marine, Borges and his wife opened Eddie Marine in 1993. With the creation of his signature EMI Thunder Exhaust System (pictured below), Eddie Marine quickly became one of the premier parts manufacturers in the custom performance boat industry.
In 2009, Borges parlayed his expertise in the marine market with his passion for classic cars and trucks and created Eddie Motorsports. Once again, his drive, determination and perseverance made Eddie Motorsports one of the most recognizable names in the restomod industry across the globe.
His longtime colleague and former employee, Joe Rode, shared a touching tribute to Borges on his personal Facebook page this week.
“I spent a large portion of my career working for and with Ed, beginning in 1990 when we were both employed by Rex Marine,” Rode said. “I learned so much of what I know now about manufacturing, marketing and selling parts from him. No one was tougher, pushed harder or worked more than him. He started two multimillion dollar companies from absolute scratch. Ed and his wife, Patty, started Eddie Marine in 1993, in the two-car garage of their condo. When Ed started his job at Nicson Engineering in California in 1980, he didn’t know anything about boats. He was proud of that and often proclaimed that he knew more about boats than anyone who never owned a boat, which he never did (this isn’t counting a few that he received through the years as payment for bad debt from boat manufacturers).
“We’ve all heard the saying ‘It’s not personal, it’s just business’—Ed hated that phrase,” he continued. “He adamantly refuted it, declaring that ‘This business is my life and it is absolutely personal!’ And anyone who would commit what Ed perceived to be an injustice to his business or one of his employees would ultimately feel just how personal it was to him. If you happen to have done that, you know.”
Rode called Ed a fantastic father and husband, who raised two amazing daughters, both active, involved, college-bound, straight-A students.
“I was very fortunate to be offered a job by Ed to be the COO of his companies in 2011,” Rode explained. “As is the case in any business relationship, there were some rough patches and in 2019, I left Eddie Motorsports. My time at Eddie’s was filled with hard, long hours, endless laughs and many successes. Unfortunately, Ed learned of his illness right before SEMA in 2019 and was soon in a battle for his life. Luckily, Ed was blessed with a great staff of longtime, loyal employees who allowed the companies to continue to grow without missing a beat, even in this difficult past year when he was most often away from the shop fighting the cancer.
“I am sure that Ed will be forever grateful to Tom, Gabe, Jen, Jeff, Clint, Todd, Adam, Bryan, Bob and the rest of the Eddie crew for their incredible effort in keeping things going in the right direction in his absence,” he continued. “So, God bless you my friend and enjoy your new, eternal life, forever reunited with your lovely mother and father. I will miss you dearly as will our boating and hot rod communities.”
The Eddie Marine release stated that in lieu of flowers, donations in Borges’ name can be made to the American Lung Association. Service information was not provided.
“Eddie was instrumental in the distributorship of Livorsi Marine gauges in the ’90s,” said Mike Livorsi, who founded Livorsi Marine in 1988. “We had a great partnership for several years. We also had our ups and down but he was always great to me on a personal level.”
As anyone who knows Borges can attest, the only things he loved more than his businesses were his family and the United States of America. He never forgot the opportunity that America provided his father to support the family after they immigrated to the U.S. from Portugal.
The slideshow above includes an image of Borges with his hot rod circa 2010 plus two pictures of the business environment he created.
“This is a tough loss, it really hits home,” said Eliminator Boats president Jake Fraleigh, who said that Borges was the first person to congratulate him—and extend a line of credit—after he took over the company at the end of 2018. “Eddie was very giving; he’s the type of guy who would bend over backward for you. He was responsible for some really cool products over the years and he took a lot of pride in what he created. He wasn’t afraid to listen to his clients’ needs either. If you needed a part, he’d get it done and he’d get it done at a good price.”
Fraleigh said Eliminator plans to continue working with Eddie Marine. The Mira Loma, Calif., company has a variety of parts on order and Fraleigh is certain the team in place—with or without Borges—is fully capable of continuing on, business as usual.
Tony Chiaramonte, a part owner of the El Cajon, Calif.-based DCB Performance Boats where he started working in 1993, said he’s going to miss Borges, whom he got to know well during the five-plus years he worked at Eliminator Boats from 2004 to 2009.
“Ed was always on the cutting-edge,” Chiaramonte said. “He was a businessman first. He wasn’t afraid to take an effective part, change it a little and put his own name on it. I remember he was one of the first to do transparent powdercoating. He put these bright candy colors on polished hardware, which was pretty innovative for the time. He called it Fusioncoating and he became the largest supplier of this type of hardware in our industry. He did well in the marine market and when he started Eddie Motorsports to make parts for hot rods, classic cars and more, that business took off in a hurry. He liked cars and watches—they represented his hard work and his self-made success.
“He could be a hard ass for sure, but he was always respectful to me,” he added. “We still buy parts from Eddie Marine. Actuators, stringer washers, bezels and more. And we hope to continue to do so well into the future. I’m going to miss having lunch with Ed. He was one of those guys you could go a year without seeing and pick up right where you left off the next time you connected.”
Borges was a character like none other. He also made an impact on the go-fast-boat industry like few before—or after—him. Speedonthewater.com extends its sincerest condolences to the Borges family and to the employees at Eddie Marine and Eddie Motorsports.