In Pursuit of our History
Pursuit Boats has a rich history spanning nearly half a century, with deep roots in the Fort Pierce area. Today, we’re swapping our baseball caps and sunglasses for our reading glasses, as we lift the hatches and explore the epic story behind the Pursuit Boats factory and the boats we all love so much.
Pierce-ing the center console market
It all began in 1977 when Leon Slikkers, then the President of S2 Yachts, had a vision to create a fishing boat series. Initially, the company, with its 53 staff members, was focused on building sailing yachts in a new 72,000-square-foot factory in Michigan. However, that would soon change when in 1977, S2 Yachts marked a major milestone when it introduced its new Pursuit fishing boats.
The 1980s would see major additional expansions of the factory and further expansions of S2’s product lines as well as substantial growth in the factory’s staff, taking the roster to 780 people.
S2 Yachts began construction of a brand new 75,000-square-foot factory that it built in Fort Pierce in Florida, with the specific purpose of building the company’s ever-growing Pursuit models.
As you may already know, our factory is still located in Fort Pierce, Florida. The location is strategic for us because we’re right in the middle of one of the largest boatbuilding regions anywhere on Earth. In fact, a local publication even called the area the mecca of boatbuilding and gave it the nickname, ‘The Fiberglass Belt’ thanks to the very large number of boatbuilding firms located in Fort Pierce and along the Treasure Coast.
More than 30 different brands of boats are produced in Fort Pierce alone, with models ranging from small, lightweight skiffs up to 100+ foot long, highly custom sportfishing yachts. The companies around us range from large names that you’re probably very familiar with to much smaller ones you may not know about.
There’s great strategic value to having our operation situated in Fort Pierce. One of the reasons is that the resources needed to build our boats are readily available. Our equipment suppliers and our subcontractors as well as other industry resources are all nearby, which immediately removes a host of logistical issues we might encounter elsewhere. Another reason is that there’s a huge amount of expertise and skilled labor in the region, making it slightly easier to find the right people who can build boats at our level.
Growing plants since the ‘80s
We first began manufacturing our award-winning luxury Pursuit Boats here in Fort Pierce in 1983 in our first plant - a 250,000-square-foot facility.
That facility served us very well but thanks to our continued positive sales growth, and following our acquisition by Malibu Boats, the time had come to grow our factory space. In 2020, we opened our latest facility: A high-tech 182,000-square-foot plant right by our original plant.
The new facility was the first phase of our expansion, and we certainly look forward to more. But in the meantime, the new facility has allowed us to continue our history of regularly introducing innovative new models.
The new factory was a substantial milestone for us, but there have been plenty of others. We’ve compiled a few of the best in the timeline below, starting with the 1990s and going right up to the present day.
A quick trip back to the ‘90s
Who could forget the 1990s? Many of us remember that decade with a certain fondness - whether it was the fluorescent colors on absolutely everything, the big hair, the shoulder pads or those classic movies and TV shows that we all still love. Whatever it is that we’re reminded of during that epic era, the fact is that the 90s were also a decade which saw massive growth for the Pursuit brand.
The milestones achieved by the company during this period are almost too many to mention, but the company’s most impressive achievement by far was its successful introduction of well over a dozen brand-new Pursuit models as well as updates to several existing models.
Between 1991 and 1993 alone, Pursuit introduced the 1850, 2355 and 2555 Center Consoles, the 1950 and 2150 Dual Consoles, the 2150 and 2555 Walkaround, and the 2855 and 3100 Express models. From 1994 to 1999, the new model launches kept coming and included the 2600 Inboard Center Console, the 3000 Offshore, the 2270 and 2470 Center Console, the 2470 and 2870 Walkaround, the 3400 Express, and the 2860 Denali. The final new model introduced during this decade was the 3070 Offshore Center Console which was unveiled at the Miami International Boat show in February 1999.
New millennium, new boats and new awards
While everyone else was figuring out what to do with all of the ‘IT Experts’ they had hired to deal with the so-called Y2K Bug that we were all told we needed to panic about, Pursuit was signing deals and breaking sales records, while achieving record numbers of new boat sales in 2000.
In the same year, and for the fourth year running, Yamaha Motor Company presented Pursuit with its Sales and Marketing Achievement award. This prestigious award further validated the strong growth that Pursuit was experiencing as it powered into the new millennium.
During the first decade of the new millennium, Pursuit continued introducing new models, with at least one new model unveiled each year. The 2000s would therefore see the introduction of the 3070 and 3800 Express, the 2670 Cuddy Console, the 2670 and 3070 Center Console, the 3100 and 3370 Offshore, the OS 285 Offshore (which replaced the 2870 walkaround) as well as the OS 345 and 375 Offshore. Other new models included the S 310 Sport, the 3480 Drummond Island Runner, the 2665 and 2670 Denali LS and finally, the LS 235 Denali and the C 310 Center Console which were both revealed in 2007.
The Pursuit Factory at Fort Pierce also continued to grow, with improved production processes and 60,000 square feet of additional space as well as the purchase of 32 acres of vacant land next door, for future growth.
This was a highly awarded decade for Pursuit, too. In 2006, the company won a prestigious NMMA Innovation Award for the Drummond Sportfish ‘Anglers Edge’ bait prep center during that year’s Miami International Boat Show. The NMMA simultaneously recognized Pursuit for CSI Excellence that same year, an award that Pursuit Boats have been awarded each year since.
The 2010s: Innovation and celebration
The 2010s continued Pursuit’s routine of regular new model introductions, while also continuing its habit of winning prestigious industry awards.
Thanks to Pursuit’s ongoing investments into new plant capacity in the years and even decades prior, new model introductions had become a streamlined affair and consequently, this decade saw loads of exciting new models introduced to our lineup.
New models launched during the 2010s included the DC 235, C 180 and 200, and our unique new tender, the ST 310. In 2012, we launched the C 260 and the following year, the S 365i and DC 325. The Offshore series was treated to the addition of the OS 315 and 325, while 2016 saw the release of the S 408 and two DC models, the 295 and 235.
Later in the 2010s, we launched the S 288, 328 and 368, and the DC 266, 325, 326 and 365.
Though the pace of new model introductions was sustained for so many years, the new boats were always carefully designed and engineered to the high standards for which Pursuit is known for and the industry recognized our hard work with a number of awards.
Meanwhile, the DC 265 was awarded Best of Class by Boating Magazine in 2011. The South Florida Manufacturing Association awarded Pursuit Boats runner-up for Manufacturer of the Year (2018), and the same year, the DC 365 won the Innovation Award in the Fishing Boat Walkaround/Center Console category from the NMMA at the Miami International Boat Show.
During this time, also in 2018, Pursuit was acquired by the Malibu Boat Group (MBUU) under the umbrella of Malibu Boats Inc.(MBI) which is the parent company of Malibu Boats, Axis Wake, Cobalt Boats and now the Maverick Boat Group which includes the Cobia, Maverick, Pathfinder and Hewes boat brands. MBI has the mission of creating the ultimate on-the-water lifestyle and Pursuit Boats is proud to say we are a part of this prestigious industry-leading group.
The present day
The 2020s represent a proud continuation of all of the hard work done by so many of the amazing people at Pursuit, to the extent that we are now a multi-generational employer boasting nearly 700 employees.
At the time of writing, in the space of only the last three years, the S 378 Sport and the S 358 Sport were each named one of the Boating Industry’s Top Products. Our engineering department, meanwhile, was kept busy with multiple new launches which included the launch of our large new flagship - the OS 445, as well as the flagship of our Sport Series - the S 428 – which was also the recipient of the Innovation Award in the Fishing Boat Walkaround/Center Console category from the NMMA. A new DC model was also added - the DC 246 as well as two additional Sports - the S 358 and the S 248.
Despite nearly a century of boatbuilding history, Pursuit Boats continues to evolve its product line, its production processes and its engineering approach. And we will continue to ensure that our customers and owners will appreciate the benefits from these efforts.
As we think about everything we’ve achieved in all of the years behind us, we salute you because, without you, none of this would have been possible. And most of all, we promise to continue producing America’s best boats that you enjoy so much, to the highest standards, for the Pursuit of “Pure. Memories.” with those you love.