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MTI At 25—One Dynamite Dealer For The Long Haul

Given TNT Custom Marine co-owner John Tomlinson’s shared high-performance marine interests and Class 1 offshore powerboat experience with MTI principal Randy Scism, you might be surprised to learn that Miami-based TNT has been a dealer for the Wentzville, Mo.-headquartered catamaran and center-console brand for less than 10 years.

Through TNT Custom Marine, Willy Cabeza became MTI’s first concierge offshore racing program client. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

But that still makes TNT Custom Marine MTI’s longest-standing dealer.

Though TNT became an MTI dealer in “right around 2014, 2015,” according to Tomlinson, not so surprisingly, it coincided with Tomlinson joining Bob Bull’s two-boat, world-championship-winning Unlimited-class CMS offshore racing team. Scism throttled the team’s 48-foot MTI with Bull behind the wheel, while Tomlinson throttled alongside driver Jeff Harris, who currently is the chief operating officer for Fountain Powerboats.

As it happened, Steven Fernandez had joined TNT Marine Sales, a then-new pre-owned boat brokerage service under the TNT business umbrella, in 2013. Fernandez was looking for a line of new boats to sell, so Tomlinson called Scism.

“Randy said, ‘Sure, let’s do it,’ and I think pretty soon Steven was working in the MTI booth at boat shows,” Tomlinson recalled.

When actor John Travolta needed exposure to the go-fast boating word in his role as Don Aronow for the “Speed Kills” motion picture in 2017, TNT Custom Marine’s John Tomlinson took him out in the MTI-V 42 center console (in background).

Scism launched the MTI-V 42 center console in 2012. Beyond that, Fernandez had only sterndrive catamarans from 36 to 52 feet to sell as the first outboard engine-powered MTI 340X catamaran wouldn’t appear until August 2016.

“The first 340X I sold was in 2017 to a guy in Germany,” Fernandez recalled. “He was really cool. He flew me out Business class and I brought paint and upholstery color samples. I also came pre-loaded with drawings.

“He took me out to dinner and I think we designed that boat in three minutes,” he added, then laughed.

MTI has since expanded its outboard-powered catamaran line to include 39- and 44-foot models. The MTI-V center console line also has grown and boasts 50- and 57-foot offerings in addition to the 42-footer. On the sterndrive-cat front, the company currently is working on a reimagined version of its 48-footer.

Between new and pre-owned boats, Tomlinson estimates that TNT—thanks in large measure to Fernandez—has sold 30 to 40 MTI builds. The dealership also does repower, general service and warranty work for the brand. Through a referral from Scism, Fernandez brought South Florida-based Willy Cabeza to the TNT fold as the first 450R Factory Stock Racing MTI Concierge Service Program with a 390XR catamaran dubbed GC Racing in 2021.

In March, Cabeza took delivery of an MTI-V 42 center console in time for the MTI owners event in the Florida Keys. The boat was color-matched to his raceboat. He took delivery off the first 440X catamaran at the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in August and currently has a 50-foot MTI center console on order. All sales went through Fernandez at TNT.

Thanks to customers such as repeat MTI customer Willy Cabeza, TNT’s new-boat business with the vaunted brand is thriving. Photo by Tom Leigh copyright Tommy Gun Images.

Fernandez is understandably passionate about representing both MTI and TNT.

“The lifestyle, the customers, all these events, traveling around and meeting new people are the best parts,” he said. “But really, I love everything about it.”

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