Talkin’ boats with Peter Truslow President of EdgeWater Power Boats

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Peter Truslow is president of EdgeWater Power Boats. The Edgewater, Florida, company has earned a reputation for building rugged and durable high-quality open boats.

Peter Truslow

Before his career with EdgeWater, Truslow, 50, sold advertising for MotorBoating magazine. “I’ve never really been away from boats or the boating business,” he says.

Truslow grew up on Long Island, New York, and summered in Maine. He has been involved in boating since birth — literally. “I was born in May and spent my first summer on my parents’ 27-foot sailboat,” he says.

EdgeWater (www.ewboats.com) was born in the mid-1990s after North Technology Group bought Dougherty Marine in 1994. Truslow and Bryan Powderly (EdgeWater’s CFO) came on board in 1995 to help grow the business, with Truslow creating the EdgeWater trademark and branding.

Although Truslow thinks highly of today’s 4-strokes, he eagerly embraces alternative pro-pulsion types — such as electric outboards — in custom builds. “I like to tinker around with new technology, almost to a fault,” says Truslow.

Truslow enjoys breaking in new EdgeWater models and is looking forward to doing just that with its 36-foot center console, to be formally introduced at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show Oct. 30-Nov. 3. EdgeWater builds 12 center consoles from 15 to 38 feet; three crossovers or dual consoles from 20 to 28 feet; four inshore boats from 19 to 24 feet; and one 33-foot express boat. The company also builds for the military, law enforcement and other commercial applications.

Truslow lives in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, with his wife of 23 years, Andrea, and their three teenage children. Besides scuba diving with his kids, Truslow likes to fish, snow ski and play golf. He has a summer home in Maine where he keeps a 17-foot EdgeWater.

Q: How would you describe EdgeWater boats to someone who is unfamiliar with the brand?

A: We build premium-quality, offshore-capable utility boats. Our boats are used for a broad variety of purposes, including fishing and other water sports. They are owned by serious boating families who spend a lot of time on the water and are looking for safety, dependability and performance. We also build custom boats for military, law enforcement and other commercial applications.

Q: What makes EdgeWater boats different from others?

A: We like to say that “it’s better on the edge” because our boats offer an unmatched combination of performance, safety and reliability. This is the result of our construction techniques and component selection. We back all of this with exceptional customer service and a limited lifetime warranty.

Q: What characteristics, components or features are you most proud of?

The 280CxX is the largest model in EdgeWater's Crossover dual console design.

A: Our hull designs are great because they allow our boats to be big, fast and comfortable offshore but also easy to operate and fuel-efficient. Our SPI system [single piece infusion] works so well with these designs. Our wraparound bow seating and our one-piece, fully lined consoles are awesome and have been copied by so many builders.

Q: Will you tell us what EdgeWater has coming down the pike?

A: I am eagerly awaiting the launch of our new 36-footer, and one of my favorite parts of the job is putting time on the new models. It launches in September and pretty much will be used around the clock by people at the company, including me, for a month or so before it debuts in Fort Lauderdale. This one is a center console. We are really excited about it. We are calling it the 360CC, with twin or triple outboards. This boat is not a traditional center console; it has more seating and actually has a small cabin in the console. It is a unique design. It is typical of a really comfortable dayboat. Below, it has a lounge, bunk, microwave, shower, sink. We are also working on another version of our new 28-foot hull. We currently build center console and “CX” [dual console] versions of this hull.

Q: How many boats did you build per year when the economy was riding high, and how many now?

A: We reached almost 600 boats per year back in the mid-2000s. This year we will build close to 400. Because of the size and complexity of the boats we build today, our company is larger today. Our 2014 sales will be a company record. With that said, our focus has never been on volume. We have always balanced growth with product quality and company profitability. We are particularly proud that our company never shut down during the downturn, and we have the same group of employees.

Q: Are you getting requests for joystick controls?

A: We are for some of our larger boats — 31 feet and up — but most of our boats are very maneuverable without a joystick.

Q: What do you think about the advances in autopilots for outboard boats — are they ready for prime time?

A: Yes. The hydraulic pump systems are pretty good, and the new electric steering systems are making outboard autopilots so much better to rig and operate. The autopilot will simply be an integral part of the electronics in the future.

Q: Center consoles are approaching the 50-foot mark. How big do you think these boats are going to get?

A: Center consoles and outboard boats are getting bigger every year. This trend will continue because more people are looking for versatile dayboats. People are also discovering that the new outboards are the best way to go. As outboards get even larger, we should see center consoles 50 feet and larger.

Q: What kind of changes have you seen in boatbuilding since you got involved in the business?

A: It’s disappointing, but I haven’t seen a lot of changes. Certainly the design process, engines and electronics have come a long way, but most boatbuilders are building the way they did 30 years ago — using polyester resin, woven and chopped fiberglass and traditional rollout. EdgeWater’s single-piece infusion process is a huge advance over traditional open molding.

Q: How so?

A: Our boats are built using the best materials available for the specific purpose. We’re very particular about the laminate materials and methods we use for each part of the boat. We use SPI to build all of our hulls 22 feet and larger. Because we build to custom specifications, our assembly process is managed using custom bills of materials for each boat and organized using lean assembly teams. This allows us to be flexible but precise on model mix and options.

The flagship 388CC can be powered with twin or triple outboards.

What we really like about SPI is we can consistently build a stronger laminate. I wouldn’t say our boats are lighter than others. They are just very strong for their weight. We are looking for strength, especially in our offshore-capable boats. Each boat weighs the same and has a perfect chemical bond. We can build a boat that is strong and performs well. The strength/weight ratio is excellent.

Q: What areas do boatbuilders and designers need to improve in?

A: Overall I think boatbuilders and designers are doing a good job and have made many improvements over the years. The standards set by [the American Boat and Yacht Council) and [the National Marine Manufacturers Association] and modern [Customer Satisfaction Index] programs have led these improvements. Computer-aided design and digital documentation have helped. We need to continue to make the boats easier to maintain and operate. The boat industry also needs to improve our manufacturing methods, especially in the fabrication of hulls, decks and small parts.

Q: If you looked out 5 to 10 years, what changes do you see in powerboats between 20 and 40 feet?

A: In terms of hull design, I think we will see designs that increase fuel economy and all-around performance. As a result, we’ll see fewer traditional deep-vee boats. Digital integration of engine and other boat systems with the boat’s electronics and the owner’s personal electronics is underway. The evolution to cleaner, more precise composite parts has a long way to go.

Q: What are consumers looking for in a new boat these days?

A: Fortunately, lots of people are boating these days. However, they are boating for shorter periods. The trend for multipurpose boats with more seating and electronic features will continue. At the same time, I think people are looking for simplicity and lower maintenance.

Q: Will you name some of your favorite non-EdgeWater boats and/or designers?

A: I am a bit of a boat nut, and I like some pretty weird stuff that might not sell to the masses. I like very simple designs over plush, complicated “luxury” boats. There are a lot of great designers working today, but I am partial to some of the early yacht designers. My great-grandfather, Clinton Crane, designed world-record speedboats, America’s Cup yachts and luxury yachts. Raymond Hunt was incredible. It’s hard to imagine that the same guy designed the Concordia yawl, the 31-foot Bertram and the 13-foot Boston Whaler.

Q: You mentioned your great-grandfather — I understand your family has quite a nautical history.

A: My great-grandfather was a naval architect. My grandfather from the other side of my family was an avid fisherman, and it was through him that I got my love of Florida and fishing. My grandmother owned boats when I was a kid. In the family, we had a 40-foot express-style day-cruising boat with twin Chrysler gas inboards. It was almost like a launch. It was custom-built in Maine and stayed in Maine. We used it to run around the islands. When I was 10, I could operate that boat — not alone, but I could drive it. In my house today we have models of some of the boats my great-grandfather designed. It goes back to the turn of the century.

Q: Obviously, you grew up boating. What are some of the other boats from your past?

A: My parents had a couple of cruising sailboats and a 13-foot Boston Whaler, and my father had a few different Mako center consoles, including a 20 and a 23 back in the ’70s and ’80s. I bought my first boat in 1991 — a 20-year-old Mako that was in rough shape. I repowered and rewired it, and pulled all the accessories and hardware and restored it.

I never have gotten away from boats, no matter how hard I tried or didn’t try. I had that boat for about five years. It was repowered with a 200-hp Mercury. It was a great boat for Fort Lauderdale. I did a lot of fishing and trailered it with my wife to the Keys and west coast [of Florida] and took it to Bimini three times.

Q: What do you have for a boat now?

A: I keep a 17-foot EdgeWater at my house in Maine. Fortunately, when you are in the boat business you get to use one of the prototypes or demo models. We literally have no boats at the factory for employee use because we are so sold out. It is a sign of the better times.

I spend as much time on the water as I can. On weekends I like to fish with my friends or kids off Daytona Beach. Two of my children — Hannah, 16, and Miles, 15 — just got dive-certified, so I look forward to diving with them. Plus, every year I lead a group of EdgeWater owners and friends on a weeklong trip to the Bahamas.

October 2014 issue