Think of one of the oldest and most respected brands in the marine industry. Starcraft is that brand and it has been synonymous with quality and family since 1903. Arthur Schrock founded Starcraft in the small rural community of Goshen, Indiana. He initially manufactured farm equipment and marine products, but it was his son Harold who blossomed Starcraft into a thriving marine business. Harold always believed in his workers and demanded quality products. His goal was not to be the biggest it was to be the best. He believed in specialization of labor and initiated the first assembly line for aluminum runabouts and fishing boats. Starcraft researched the fiberglass market and became the premier supplier of glass runabouts. The Starcraft marketing team developed a distribution network consisting of distributors through out the United States. These distributors were keys into the growth of Starcraft. During this time Starcraft expanded into the recreational vehicle market and developed the first pop up camper. The company had grown to over 700 employees and it had become a major employer for the Goshen community.
The year was 1969 and a major conglomerate, Bangor Punta, approached Harold about purchasing the family business. The decision was made and Bangor Punta became the first of five parties to own Starcraft. The years that followed saw major expansion and contraction. Competition was growing in the marine market and the stronghold of distributors slowly began to fade. The energy crisis of the 1970's caused problems in the campers and RVs and large glass boat sales suffered. Bangor Punta dissolved and Lear Seigler became Starcraft’s white knight.
It was during the 1980s that Starcraft was moved from Goshen, Indiana to Topeka, Indiana the heart of Amish country. To this the day horse drawn buggies are plentiful, and the dealer picking up a boat in Topeka is more likely to see a horse in the community than a foreign car. During the late eighties engine companies began to purchase boat companies. Starcraft became part of the Brunswick family of companies, which included Mercury Marine. Starcraft was now manufacturing aluminum fishing boats, runabouts, pontoons, fiberglass products and being sold through Mercury’s distribution network. It was in 1996 that Brunswick decided to divest itself of Starcraft and a unique opportunity arose. A group of investors headed by Doug Schrock, Harold’s son, purchased Starcraft from Brunswick and the cycle was complete. Starcraft’s legacy of a family business was reestablished.
The fierce competition and lack of capital expansion had hurt the Starcraft line. It was imperative the company refocuses and downsizes. The message of being the best and not the biggest was revitalized. A dedication to develop a quality line of aluminum fishing boats was first priority. In 2003 the C-Star line of products were developed to celebrate our 100th anniversary. New innovative seating, colorful new graphics and commitment to quality showed the renewed focus. Taking a leadership role in the development of a new line of Aurora deckboats awakened the spirit of Starcraft. Our competition began to realize that 2003 marked a rebirth of a sleeping giant.
Strong media advertising is planned in 2003 to spread the word to the marine buyer that Starcraft is back. Focusing on quality and building a spirit were keys to making the new Starcraft. Employees worked together to develop our centennial logo and it will appear on all 2003 product. It is our plan to continue with a form of this logo in the years ahead.
We established dealer groups, which concentrated on product and customer development. 2003 marked the beginning of renewed confidence from our employees, which translated to our dealers, which translated to our customers. Sales for the final 4 months of 2002 were up 12% and January 2003 sales were up 25%, the program is on the rise.
It is our goal to expand our aluminum product and to explore the development of larger glass product. As part of 100th anniversary we will be introducing a new 19 and 21 glass bow riders in early July. Innovation will continue to drive engineering of pontoons, as Starcraft became the first company to introduce patio umbrellas as a standard feature on its Saturn series of pontoons.
Company excitement is growing and you can feel the enthusiasm