Being inducted into a hall of fame is a once in a lifetime event that few get to experience. Formula is so excited and proud to announce that Vic Porter, Chairman, will get this privilege. On Tuesday, October 4th, during the 26th International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference, Vic Porter will be inducted into the National Marine Manufacturers Association Hall of Fame.
According to Boating Industry, “‘The NMMA Hall of Fame was established in 1988 and recognizes individuals who have made, or continue to generate, substantial and lasting contributions toward the advancement of the marine industry. It honors individuals whose names and deeds are synonymous with the pursuit of quality, innovation, and perfection within their respective spheres of expertise. The many accomplishments of both men are amazing and have shaped the boating industry of today.'”
Soundings Trade Only Today quoted NMMA President Thom Dammrich saying, ‘”We’re proud to celebrate Bob Menne and Vic Porter, two pioneers in the recreational boating industry, who have paved the way for its future with unwavering dedication, innovation and passion for boating, their communities and families.”‘
Victor B. Porter, Chairman of Formula Boats, was born February 3, 1931 in Decatur, Indiana, and grew up spending summer weekends at Lake Webster in northern Indiana. Vic decided to formally enter the marine industry as a boat salesman in 1957. Dissatisfied with the quality of the product he represented, he decided he could build better, and in 1958, borrowed $3,000 from his local banker and founded Duo Marine in Decatur. His first boat model was a twin outboard powered 14’ catamaran, followed by several conventional runabout craft, tri-hull’s and a tunnel-hulled craft. As Vic grew the business, he subsequently acquired the Aqua Swan aluminum boat line and Crownline brand of runabouts, moving production of both brands to Decatur.
Vic sold Duo Marine in 1967 to Bangor Punta, owner of Starcraft Boats, and served as the president of Duo until he started his second boat company, Signa Corp, in 1970. The first Signa models were highly detailed 16’ and 18’ tri-hulls, both I/O and O/B powered. Vic successfully grew Signa, selling to Fuqua Industries, the parent company of the Thunderbird/Formula line of boats in 1973. For the next three years, he served as president of Thunderbird/Formula/Signa, ultimately purchasing the three lines from Fuqua in 1976.
Back at the helm of his own business, Vic steered the company and the Formula brand to a position of world-renowned recognition for design and quality. The company grew into a dedicated workforce of 600 employees operating in a 345,000 (now 500,000) square foot facility that housed product engineering, design, production, sales, marketing and management under one roof. In 1989, as family members became active in executive roles, Vic settled in as chairman while continuing to advocate the Formula legacy of innovation, quality and performance.
Vic made it a point during his boating career to be involved in the best interests of the industry. He was active in the BIA (Boating Industry Association) when it merged with the NAEBM (National Association of Engine and Boat Manufacturers) to become the NMMA (National Marine Manufacturers Association) in 1979. During his years at Signa and at Thunderbird/Formula, Vic served both the BIA and the NMMA in various board positions.
Vic was also very intentional about supporting and improving the community-at-large that is home to Thunderbird Products. He helped spearhead the development and funding of Decatur’s industrial park, served on the Indiana Central College (now University of Indianapolis) board, the Anthony Wayne Boy Scout council, Cole Foundation and Adams Memorial Hospital Board, as well as serving his church, Decatur First United Methodist, in a number of positions. Realizing a need for a local retirement community, Vic encouraged community meetings and provided land and seed money for the development of Woodcrest through the Porter Family Foundation. The foundation also donated land for a new hospital in Decatur and aided substantially in funding an oncology center.
Vic has been broadly recognized for his outreach. He was named a Sagamore of the Wabash by Governor Otis Bowen, received the Indiana Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award, the Stephen Decatur Award and has been inducted in the Junior Achievement Greater Fort Wayne Business Hall of Fame. In the year 2000, Thunderbird received the (Decatur) Chamber of Commerce Large Business of the Year Award.
A life-long boater, Vic and his family – from Kristine, his first mate and wife of 66 years, to his six children and 30 grandchildren and great-grandchildren – enjoy creating memories in Formula boats on the Indiana lakes and south Florida waters. Vic continues to stay plugged in and serve the business in his role as Chairman, enjoying working relationships with his five children holding executive positions and six grandchildren also active in the company.
The following is an abbreviated list of Vic Porter’s engineering, manufacturing and leadership achievements:
1958 Launched the Duo Catamaran hull and later an early tri-hull
1962 Development of a Duo deep-V hull, one of the first in the industry
1964 Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Community Service by the
United States Junior Chamber of Commerce
1964 Outstanding Young Businessman Award from the Decatur Chamber of Commerce
1970 Launched the Signa brand with high quality features such as carpeted floors, wood grain dashes, cockpit courtesy lights and convertible top garages
1977 Indiana Department of Commerce Award – by Office of the Lieutenant Governor for involvement in the creation of Decatur Industrial Park
1978 Sagamore of the Wabash – Presented by Indiana Governor Otis Bowen
1979 Developed the Formula 302, a 30’ twin engine offshore performance boat, which led to off-shore manufacturing standards being integrated throughout the entire line of Formula boats
1980 Developed a one-piece, integrated deck-cockpit liner system, a core component of all Formula models today
1982 First application of DuPont Imron® paint for deck and hull graphics, significantly enhancing both the life and appearance of the graphics
1984 Partnered with Taylor Industries to develop the industry’s first curved glass safety windshield used on the Formula 206LS and Spyder models
1984 Developed a patented “Silent Thunder” exhaust system, offering quieter performance without sacrificing speed
1987 Installed automatic fire extinguishing systems as a standard safety feature
1988 Constructed a 345,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility incorporating design, engineering and manufacturing, sales, marketing and logistics under the same roof
1988 In-water boat testing became standard with built in test tanks in the new facility
1988 Utilized chemical bonding as part of standardized Formula deck and hull joinery
1988 Elks Distinguished Citizenship Award – Decatur Lodge 993
1990 Integrated the swim platform into the main hull and deck construction
1990 Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award – by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce
1994 Launched the Sun Sport line of day boats
1994 Created safe, easy access to the fore deck with center steps to new walk-through windshield. Introduced on the Formula 27 Performance Cruiser, it became a standard feature throughout the line.
1997 Introduced the Fas3Tech® line of stepped hull performance boats with a fiberglass reinforced structural grid system
1997 Stephen Decatur Community Service Award – by the Decatur Chamber of Commerce
1999 Launched the Super Sport line, combining speed and cabin comforts in boats over 37 feet
2000 Large Business of the Year Award – by the Decatur Chamber of Commerce
2002 Debuted the first of a new Yacht line
2011 Indiana Republican Party State Chairman’s Award
2012 Introduced the new Crossover line of bowriders featuring spacious cockpits and incorporating a cabin below deck
2012 Inducted into Junior Achievement Greater Fort Wayne Hall of Fame with the BEL (Business and Leadership) Award for Northern Indiana