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Vic Porter, a Giant of the Boating Industry, Dies at 90

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Vic Porter, a serial entrepeneur who grew Formula Boats into the brand it is today, passed away in Decatur, Indiana, on Sunday. He was 90 years old.

Porter spent over 60 years in the boating industry. He started his professional career in mobile homes sales, real estate and an ice cream business, but in 1958, he started a boat company, Duo, Inc., in his converted ice cream plant. His first model, the fiberglass Volare, was a catamaran equipped with two outboard motors. He subsequently developed a trimaran called the Hepcat, another model called the Catfish and the monohull runabout X-Series and F-Series boats. By 1962, Duo Inc. had 30 employees and built 20 boats per week. Porter developed a V-hull boat series, and by 1965, his 100,000-square-foot plant employed 185 people. He sold Duo, Inc. to Starcraft Corporation in 1966.

In 1970 he led Signa Corporation, manufacturing tri-hull boats in a 20,000-square-foot facility with 50 employees, and sold it in 1973 to Fuqua Industries. Fuqua had previously purchased Thunderbird Products and Formula Boats. Porter was named chairman of the small boat group, which included Signa tri-hulls and Formula deep-V hull boats.

Three years later, Porter purchased the small boat group from Fuqua Industries and continued it as Thunderbird Products, manufacturing the Signa and Formula boat lines. In 1979 the company introduced the Formula 302, a special edition offshore performance boat. At Formula, he implemented the use of integrated, continuous cockpit liners; Imron® hull graphics; curved, tempered glass windshields; and the Silent Thunder® exhaust system.

By 1988, Formula had a 345,000-square-foot facility that employed 600 people. The company subsequently introduced the Sun Sports in 1994, the FAS³Techs in 1997, the Super Sports in 1999, the Yachts in 2002, the Crossovers in 2012, and the Flagship of the Formula lineup, the 500 Super Sport Crossover, in 2021.

Porter served in various board positions with the Boating Industry Association and the National Marine Manufacturers Association. He was inducted into the NMMA Hall of Fame in 2016.

He is survived by his wife of 70 years, six children, 17 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. Five of his children and six of his grandchildren are involved in the Formula Boats business.

A full obituary can be found here.

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