Since its inception in 1984, Contender Boats has led the industry in building semi-custom sportfishing boats — for fisherman by fisherman. That mission has only grown stronger over the years.
Today, in a market trending toward brand consolidation, Joe Neber, president and owner of Contender Boats, solidified Contender’s legacy as a family-owned, Florida-based company by purchasing a second manufacturing facility in Fort Pierce.
The 100,000-square-foot facility not only opens opportunities for the company to double the output of its highly coveted boats but also drives home the mission “for fisherman by fisherman.”
Contender Boats welcomes back former plant manager Steve Cunningham to head the Fort Pierce factory. Cunningham will be joining the team headed by Kenny Pontari, formerly with Viking Yachts, to lead manufacturing operations for Contender. Together, Cunningham and Pontari hold 77 years of experience in building premium sportfishing boats.
“The goal for the new plant is to move entirely to infusion, a modern lamination technique, and a cleaner manufacturing process,” said Neber. “You can’t produce the best boats on the market without the best team working together. That’s why I’m committed to working with experienced professionals who truly understand the product and the needs of our customers.”
Neber has also added a new quality assurance manager, David Pliske, to the team with the expanding capacity. Pliske is charged with ensuring that Contender Boats continues to produce top-of-the-line performance machines. Will Serrano has also joined the staff as a dedicated customer service representative to serve the nearly 10,000 Contender Boat owners worldwide.
The Fort Pierce Contender Boats facility is currently being renovated with plans to be fully operational by Q4 of this year. Contender will be looking to hire up to 250 new team members to staff the new facility. Production of all boats 32 feet and down will transfer to Fort Pierce, while all larger boats will remain at the Homestead facility.
“The staff and team we’ve had at Contender have been a pivotal part of our success,” said Neber. “Now is the time to truly invest in the company, in Florida, and in our people to ensure the long-term success of the brand.”