Along with the industry, the NMMA mourns the loss of longtime owner and Formula Boats President Emeritus Vic Porter. Wear a 2016 recipient of the NMMA Hall of Fame Award, died at the age of 90 on October 24.
In an announcement, Formula Boats honored Vic as “the heart” of the company, which has transformed Formula Boats into the world-renowned brand it is today. A longtime boater, his career has been defined by his passion for boating and his determination to improve the design and quality of boats.
Vic started his career in the maritime industry in 1957 as a salesperson. Dissatisfied with the quality of the product he represented, he decided he could build a better boat. In 1958, he borrowed $ 3,000 and founded Duo Marine in Decatur, Indiana. The company’s first model boat was a 14-foot boat. twin outboard motor catamaran, which was followed by several runabout, tri-hull and tunnel hull craft. As Vic developed the business, he acquired the Aqua Swan aluminum boat and Crownline runabout brands and transferred production from both lines to Decatur. Vic sold Duo Marine to Bangor Punta, owner of Starcraft Boats in 1967, and remained President of Duo until 1970.
In 1970 Vic founded Signa Corp., his second boat company, which manufactured both inboard and outboard three-hull boats. Vic sold Signa to Fuqua Industries, the parent company of the Thunderbird / Formula boats in 1973, and was president of Thunderbird / Formula / Signa for three years, eventually purchasing all three lines in 1976.
Back at the helm, Vic led the Formula company and brand to a world renowned position for design and quality. The company grew into a dedicated workforce of 600 employees in a 345,000 square foot (now 500,000 square foot) facility that housed engineering, design, production, sales, marketing and management under one roof . In 1989, with family members in leadership positions, Vic moved in as president.
Throughout his career, Vic has been involved in organizations that benefit the marine industry. He was active in the Boating Industry Association (BIA) when it merged with the National Association of Engine and Boat Manufacturers (NAEBM) to become the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). He has served on the boards of the BIA and the NMMA.
Vic has long supported and worked to improve the community that is home to Thunderbird Products, spearheading the development and funding of the Decatur Industrial Park, serving on the Board of Trustees of Indiana Central College (now University of Indianapolis), Anthony Wayne Boy Scout Council, Cole Foundation and Adams Memorial Hospital, to name a few. Recognition for his efforts includes the Indiana Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award and the Stephen Decatur Award. He was inducted into the Junior Achievement Greater Fort Wayne Business Hall of Fame and was named Sagamore of the Wabash by Governor Otis Bowen. Thunderbird received the Decatur Award for Large Business of the Year from the Chamber of Commerce in 2000.