American Recreational Products creates a new product line, Boka Marine
FENTON, MI — A new boat has emerged in a compact, battery-powered, solar-powered pontoon boat.
Boka Marine, a division of American Recreational Products (ARP), launched its new line of four-person pontoons in July 2022.
Boka electric boats use the same fiberglass frame technology as its cousin, Paddle Wheeler. However, instead of pedalling, Boka electric boats are powered by a Torqeedo Ultralight motor.
In June 2022, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced plans to build the ARP manufacturing plant in Fenton, creating up to 59 new jobs. They expect the installation to be completed in early 2023.
“We’ve always been able to keep up with production, but over the past two years our business has grown tremendously.” said Adam Fenton, CEO and co-owner of National Composites. “We actually went from one factory and around 60 employees in 2019. And now we’re down to five factories and around 530 employees. So with all that growth, it became pretty obvious that if we wanted to keep building these boats, we had to make room and set up a dedicated operation. So that’s what drove the investment in Fenton and the new facility.
Boka electric boats can accommodate up to four people and nearly 700 pounds. Weighing around 500 pounds, a custom trailer is available to move the Boka from point A to point B.
New orders are delivered direct to the consumer and sales began on July 17. It is currently under construction at the Joplin, Missouri facility until the new facility opens. Roller boats will continue to be built in Owosso at Great Lakes Composites.
Once a customer places an order, ARP has custom trailers that will deliver the boats directly to the customer. The delivery time is approximately four weeks.
Fenton took over National Composites in 2019 and said demand for boats in Michigan was high.
“I don’t think anyone can build fast enough to meet the demand,” he said. “And we were also in this situation. We therefore also supply fiberglass components to companies such as Crest Pontoons, Avalon Pontoons and Bennington. So we have a fairly good knowledge of the maritime industry. And we also have our own marine products exclusive to Boka and Paddle Wheeler. And all are undoubtedly at record highs.
It’s easy to see why Fenton has a passion for boats.
His father owned Crest Pontoons and Fenton saw a need where people shouldn’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy time on the water.
A basic Boka E-Boat model costs $7,900 and can be customized with additional accessories.
“It’s always been a huge part of our family culture and being on the water,” Fenton said. “I myself live by a lake in Clarkston. There are a lot of people who don’t want to worry about having a big trailer to do a lot of expensive storage over the winter.
“And so I was trying to really look at that and try to see what’s in that $8 to $10,000 price range when it comes to a marine product or a boating product from And that’s really what pushed me to start creating the idea around the Boka product.
Fenton has worked at many fast-growing companies, from technology to manufacturing, but this is the first time he’s successfully completed a project from what he called a “napkin sketch.”
“It’s something I’ve never experienced before and it’s incredibly rewarding,” he added. “And I think it will be even more rewarding to see your people spending time on the water. But the race was fantastic.
Read more on The Flint Diary:
Meet Dwight Eichelberg: Sweet Corn Enthusiast Who Once Taught Actor Terry Crews
Michigan’s Best Local Eats: Beirut restaurant is a mainstay in the Flint community
Black Business Expo and Financial Empowerment Summit teach business growth opportunities
Michigan’s Best Local Food: Taco’s Jamay offers tasty tacos and football-sized burritos