That Jeff Harris became the chief operating officer of Fountain Powerboats, Donzi Marine and Baja Marine in Washington, N.C., a little more than a year ago is more than a little poetic. Harris, a 58-year-old multi-time offshore racing world champion began working for the company in 1984 and exited in 2004.
A marine industry veteran, Jeff Harris focused on establishing a solid production schedule for all departments at Fountain Powerboats when took the role as the company’s chief operating officer. Photo by Mark Spencer copyright Fountain Powerboats/speedonthewater.com.
He returned to help Fountain with its V-bottom kilometer record efforts in early 2018. When chief operating officer Joe Curran died a year later, company owner Fred Ross asked if Harris would be interested in taking over the position. Always up for a challenge and as loyal as they come, Harris accepted.
What was your first priority when you returned to Fountain?
(Laughs) Well, um, the biggest challenge was that we had three brands. We have a great team here, but everyone was spread pretty thin. They had aggressively come out with a lot of new models across the lines, which was fantastic. We had a lot of people doing a lot of great work, but it wasn’t being done with any semblance of a schedule. So my goal was to get everyone on a schedule in much of the way we did when previously worked for Fountain.
We are a vertically integrated company. From the different welded structures, acrylic pieces, hull tooling, wiring harnesses and more, we build most of the things we use to produce our boats in house. The production of those various elements and more was not as coordinated and scheduled as it was back in the best Fountain days. We have an incredible team here, and my job as a leader is to make everyone feel that we are headed in that direction. Building a solid production schedule has been a big part of that.
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