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Straight Talk With Fred Ross

A former Powerboat magazine editor now handling marketing and media relations for FountainDonzi and Baja, Mark Spencer doesn’t waste time. So when he invited my fellow speedonthewater.com teammate Jason Johnson and me to Washington, N.C., last month to experience the latest Fountain and Donzi offerings, he filled our schedule. In less than 48 hours, we logged time in the Fountain 47 Lightning, 34 Thunder Cat and 34 Sport Console, as well as the Donzi 38 ZRC and 41 GTZ, and interviewed Reggie Fountain, Jr., at length. We also enjoyed two dinners with him and his wife, Linda, Fountain Powerboats chief operating officer Jeff Harris, Spencer and Fountain/Donzi representative Billy Moore.

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The owner of the Fountain, Donzi and Baja brands has no intention of coming in second place (click image to enlarge). Photo courtesy/copyright Mark Spencer/Fountain Powerboats.

But the highlight of the trip was our video conference with Fred Ross, the owner of all three brands. That was just plain fun.

Even with a voice like a rasp on hardwood thanks to a nasty virus, the 61-year-old entrepreneur could not have been more animated or enthusiastic about the three brands he acquired a little more than two years ago.

“I have the best team of guys out there—it’s been almost like getting the band back together and I couldn’t be happier with our team,” he said.

Fountain and Donzi will showcase an array of new and revamped models at the upcoming Miami International Boat Show, and Ross and company will be there with them. The first focus when he acquired the brands, he said, was to reinvigorate Fountain’s center console line, which made good business sense as the center console segment carried Fountain in the early to mid 2000s.

The team tackled updating the angling-oriented models first, then went with a clean sheet to create 39 NX and 43 NX, which more closely align with the center-console-as-social platform concept embraced by most of today’s performance-boat builders.

“Our big pushes now are with Donzi and Fountain,” he said. “People are interested in niche sportboats again. The older boats are aging out.”

Read More: Straight Talk With Fred Ross

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