Decatur, IN—Victor B. Porter, chairman of Formula Boats, celebrated a milestone at the Formula Boats annual dealer meeting in Fort Myers, Florida. 2008 marks 50 years for Vic to be in the boating industry. From the small beginnings to a larger then life reality, Vic’s story is truly the American dream.
Vic Porter’s small beginnings started and have stayed in Decatur, Indiana. His career started with volunteer firefighting, mobile homes sales, real estate, and a frozen food and ice cream store. An entrepreneur at heart, Vic felt the urge to start down a new path. In 1958, the path Vic chose, led him to his place in the industry today. Never imaginable outcomes followed each move Vic made throughout the past 50 years.
In 1958 Vic Porter started a boat manufacturer called Duo, Inc. Manufacturing fiberglass boats, Vic started in a converted ice cream locker with only three employees building a boat a day. In 1959, the hundredth boat was built and the Hepcat boat was released. Vic doubled as sales manager. The following three years Vic released the Cathfish, X-Series and F-Searies boats. In 1963 Duo Inc. was booming. Vic now had 30 employees who built 20 boats per week in a new 18,000 square foot facility. Upon getting into the new facility immediate plans were made to double capacity. 1963 also marked the first year for Duo Inc. to install engines on the boats, which proved to be a success. 1964 marked Vic’s first million-dollar year and in 1965 Vic’s plant was 100,000 square feet and employed 185 people. 1966 was a whirlwind year. Vic traveled nonstop for a month, visiting 21 cities and 3,000 dealers to promote and sell his product. Vic also diversified himself that year by manufacturing truck campers. Duo Inc. caught the eye of Starcraft Corp. and in 1967 Vic sold Duo to Starcraft while remaining in command. For the next few years Duo continued success and developed new models and designs. Vic got the entrepreneurial twitch again and resigned from Duo, Inc. in 1970 to captain a new ship.
Signa Corp. was the next step in Vic’s path. Manufacturing tri-hull boats in a 20,000 square foot facility with the help of 50 employees. It wasn’t long before Vic’s second boat company caught the eye of investors. In 1973 Fuqua Industries purchased Signa Corp. Fuqua Industries had also purchased, in 1969, Thunderbird Products and Formula Boats. Vic acted as president and the company had $3 million in sales that year alone. Fuqua Industries manufactured all three lines including tri-hull to deep-V hull boats for through 1975.
Once again, Vic felt the urge to have a company all his own. In 1976 Vic started Porter, Inc. and purchased Fuqua Industries. Vic did business as Thunderbird Products and manufactured the Signa and Formula lines. In 1979 the Signa boat line had its last year as market advancement was in favor of the deep-V hull boats.
The same year, 1979, marked Thunderbird Products Formula 302, an offshore performance boat. And with every step that Vic took with the company, innovation followed. In 1980, integrated cockpit liners had their beginning in the company. 1982 was the start of Imron® hull graphics. In 1984, an industry first, Thunderbird Products started curved glass windshields. Also that year, Silent Thunder® exhaust was also incorporated. In 1988 a brand new, state of the art facility was built, 345,000 square feet to manufacture the highest quality luxury boats possible in Decatur, Indiana with a dedicated and skilled workforce of 600 employees. From facility additions to the addition of boat lines, Sun Sports in 1994, FAS3TECHs in 1997, Super Sports in 1999 and Yachts in 2002, Vic has built his company with grit and integrity into an admired business. Today Vic is still involved in the business acting as chairman of the board is seen on the floor and in the office. Vic’s entrepreneurial spirit took him, his family and his business to places he never imagined.
Vic remains happily married to his wife, Kristine of 58 years. Together they have six children, five of which are involved in Thunderbird Products. Vic has 17 grandchildren and has even seen the love of his company flow into the third generation with 5 full-time and a handful of summer and after school help. Vic has been blessed with four great-grandchildren, one of which can’t wait to start building boats with everyone.
Vic saw the support of his community, family and employees throughout his career, and has tried to repay with service and gratitude. Throughout his many years Vic has served on numerous boards, such as the local Chamber of Commerce, area Boy Scouts, the Porter Family Foundation which offers philanthropic funding to local schools, churches and charities, and serving on the board for his area First United Methodist Church where he still attends today. Vic also helped spearhead the development and funding of Decatur’s industrial park. He initiated and provided the seed money for the formation of Woodcrest, a not-for-profit retirement home. He is a lifelong member of the Adams County Historical Society. Vic even coordinated a drug awareness program from 1973-1975.
Many people recognized Vic Porter’s service and entrepreneurial spirit. Over the years Vic was recognized for numerous awards. In 1964 Vic received the Outstanding Businessman Award from the Decatur Chamber of Commerce. In 1990 Vic was recognized as a finalist in Indiana for the Entrepreneur of the Year Award and won the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award for his involvement in the community. And in 1997 Vic won the Stephen Decatur Community Service Award in Decatur, Indiana.
Vic lives by this philosophy, “To help others and encourage people to go out on their own and do things for their community.” Vic has lived to this to his fullest ability. From humble beginnings, to an unimaginable present, Vic has spent his time in boating well, proven by his business success and family following.
Congratulations Vic on 50 years well spent in the boating industry.