Polaris Industries, the $5.4 billion (sales) maker of snowmobiles, off-road vehicles and motorcycles, has agreed to buy the country’s largest pontoon boat maker, Boat Holdings, for $805 million. Forbes reported that the all-cash transaction, expected to close in the third quarter, will round out Polaris’ portfolio of power-sports products and, it hopes, give it opportunities for cross-selling.
“Most of our competitors have water products. We’re kind of late to the party,” Polaris CEO Scott Wine told Forbes in a telephone interview. Yamaha, Kawasaki and others that compete with Medina, Minn.-based Polaris in its existing markets already have boat divisions, he noted.
The U.S. market for new powerboats is $8 billion, and pontoon boats are the largest and fastest growing segment of the industry with an 11% compound annual growth rate since 2010. There’s strong overlap between the different types of powersports with some 30% of Polaris’s existing customers owning a boat.
Elkhart, Ind.-based Boat Holdings makes deck boats and cruisers, in addition to pontoon boats, with more than 200 models under the Bennington, Godfrey, Hurricane and Rinker brands. Founded in 1997 by boating entrepreneur Steve Vogel, the company had $560 million in revenue last year, with Ebitda of $74 million. “We thought if we were going to get into boats, we wanted to get into it with a major player,” said Wine, 50, a former naval officer who became Polaris’s CEO in 2008 after stints at United Technologies, Danaher and Allied Signal.
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