Ask wakeboarders about boats. There’s one name you’ll hear over and over again. MasterCraft! MasterCraft outsells everything else on the water. More world records have been set behind MasterCrafts than all other boats. MasterCraft has pulled more tournaments and shows than any other boat. And we work hard to keep getting better. Because the only way to stay ahead is to be a leader.
MASTERCRAFT MANUFACTURER PROFILE HISTORY There’s a phrase in the MasterCraft brochure that’s neither highlighted nor boldfaced. It unceremoniously reads, “mixing humanity with technology,” but that, in a nutshell, is MasterCraft. MasterCraft was founded in 1968 by enthusiasts who were not happy with the boats available on the market for ski school use. The first MasterCraft was built in Florida, but the company moved the operation to a small farm in Tennessee. MasterCraft built 12 boats in its first year of operation but was getting orders as it became more recognized by tournament skiers. By 1987, MasterCraft became the largest producer of inboard ski boats in the world. Over the years, MasterCraft has gone through a series of ownership groups. MasterCraft had an entrepreneurial spirit under the early owner, who just wanted to make a better ski boat. He sold the company to the Coleman Company in 1984, causing what some felt was a loss of soul. MasterCraft became corporately labeled and continued to hold that stigma until 1993, when Coleman sold the company to Meridian, a publicly traded holding company. The corporate ownership still produced innovative boats. In 1997, current president John Dorton named a weighted ProStar 205 the X-Star, and it became one of the icons of the sport of wakeboarding. Corporate ownership also produced the company’s 272,000-square-foot facility in Vonore, TN, about 30 miles outside of Knoxville. On Lake Tellico at the foot of the Smoky Mountains, the factory buzzes with the highest-tech machinery and manufacturing methods in the business. CNC machines grind out computer-designed parts, but the line is by and large staffed with skilled craftsmen, building the boats by hand, one at a time. In 2000, the management team organized to buy back the company because they wanted to regain that soul that made MasterCraft, and return to the company’s entrepreneurial spirits. What exists now is a direction founded in participation, enthusiasm and passion as opposed to corporate profit. “We are doing things for the right reason now,” according to Marketing Director Rob May. “This company is run by a group of people who are passionately devoted to water sports. It’s fun for us to come to work.” MasterCraft doesn’t talk about its “business” of boat building, but rather its obsession and passion. It puts its money where its mouth is as one of the biggest supporters of the sport, sponsoring countless top skiers and wakeboarders, not to mention events all over the world. In 1984, MasterCraft founded the Pro Water Ski Tour, which has used MasterCraft ProStars ever since. MasterCraft also promotes regional reunions, supports top ski schools, maintains an informative Web site and publishes its own “Star” magazine.Furthermore, each buyer of a MasterCraft boat becomes a member of “Team MasterCraft” for a year, which enables the member to attend special MasterCraft events. This new direction comes from the fact that the executives upstairs are now skiers. President and CEO John Dorton and Vice President of Sales Scott Crutchfield’s offices overlook Lake Tellico, where they regularly take pre-work and lunchtime sets. One gets the feeling their minds are as much on the lake with a slalom course outside their office as on the business of running the company that has produced more ski boats than any other over the last 25 years. CONSTRUCTION MasterCraft first creates each boat on a computer then hand shapes it from CNC-milled models. The combination makes a technologically advanced boat, but allows for human manipulation. MasterCraft uses a technique called clay modeling, allowing the company’s engineers to touch every surface of the boat before it ever sees a mold. Multiple adjustments are made at this point, testing the ergonomics, styling and design. MasterCraft takes extraordinary measures to ensure accurate reproduction of its molds. They use steel-reinforced molds and stringent mold maintenance to ensure the quality of the finished product. MasterCraft waxes and buffs its molds after two uses and completely overhauls them after 50 to result in the best possible fit and high-luster finish. The gelcoat is the first layer applied in the mold. MasterCraft sprays its gelcoat to 22 mils thick. The company uses its own gelcoat called Ultimate 8000 neopentyl glycol/isophthalic, which is applied by skilled technicians. MasterCraft controls the tolerances within .005 inch for strength, gloss and resistance to cracking, fading, blistering and water damage. MasterCraft’s size allows its factory to have four main paint booths, two being for base coats only so they don’t have to run different colors through a single booth. This improves the consistency of the color process. The hulls are constructed of 100-percent hand-laid fiberglass, using multiple layers to provide strength and consistency. Three types of fiberglass are used: matting, woven roving and coremat. There are two types of woven roving – biaxial and triaxial – stitched to provide strength in various directions. MasterCraft uses Reichhold’s Polylite 33234 resin, what they call an exclusive low-profile laminating resin and AME 5000 resin. One of many things that stand out in the MasterCraft factory is that all the fiberglass is neatly cut and put into identical stacks to be used in identical models, also ensuring consistency. The glass is all meticulously hand-laid into the boat. Next, the resin is rolled out so the fiberglass gets completely saturated without using any more resin than necessary to ensure a higher glass-to-resin ratio. MasterCraft construction also features a unique spray-on ceramic called Spraycore, which makes the laminate stronger yet lighter than an all-coremat product. It also stops print-through, reduces vibration and adds strength. At this time, 3/8-inch AnchorLOK™ reinforcement steel plates are laminated into the hull to provide rigid mounting points for the engine, pylon, lifting rings and the platform. HDPE is also glassed into the hull as a backing material for all small parts. Everything from windshields, hand rails and lifting rings to engines are through-bolted or screwed into aluminum, steel or high-density polyethylene (HDPE) to disperse the stress points. A monocoque pre-formed stringer system consisting of bi-directional fiberglass and closed-cell foam is built to exacting tolerances then laminated into the hull as an integral part of the layup schedule to create extra strength and more stability. An inner-hull liner is placed inside to act as the floor of the boat, adding even more strength. Beveled edges ensure that the inner hull fits snugly, then the liner is chemically bonded to the hull and stringers with Glasslock adhesive as it is braced by over a ton of pressure. Next, the cavity formed between the liner and hull is filled with foam to keep out air, dirt, water, vibrations and noise while adding flotation and structure to help maintain the hull shape. Composite flooring materials are then installed in the hull to cover the drivetrain. MasterCraft joins its hulls to its decks with a shoebox fit. The top half overlaps the bottom with a built-in groove and supporting edge then joined with silicone and a mechanical bond, using stainless-steel fasteners backed by (HDPE). This allows the parts to be taken apart if need be, but still makes for an incredibly strong, water-tight seal. As the only company to build its trailers right at its own factory, MasterCraft ensures that they not only perfectly match the boats they are built for, but also adhere to MasterCraft’s same level of excell
ence it maintains on its boats. The EZ Load boat buddy makes loading and unloading the boat super easy while providing a hands-free automatic boat lock. A new pivot tongue design shortens the overall length of the trailer, and all MasterCraft trailers have disc brakes and torsion axle suspension. Also, look for fiberglass fenders made by MasterCraft to exactly match the color of the boat. Plus, oil-bath bearings are new and exclusive to MasterCraft. As one might expect, the largest boat manufacturer has a huge array of options even on the loaded boats. There’s a stern-mounted stereo remote, and pump gun for binding lube holsters neatly in the rear storage. V-drives can come with functional cockpit table. There’s an available drop-in carpeted floor mat custom fitted for any MasterCraft. Naturally, hot- and cold-water pressurized showers are available. All boats can be fitted with a Sunbrella-material bimini. For performance, Perfect Pass Cruise, Digital Pro or Wakeboard Edition, speed control is available. The high-end slalom boats can have the MTS (MasterCraft Training System), which adds up to 180 pounds of ballast to the observer’s side. MasterCraft uses Indmar engines by GM and has an exclusive agreement with Cadillac for its high-end Northstar ignition. The stock MasterCraft engine is the Predator, a Vortec 5.7-liter V-8 with electric throttle-body fuel injection generating 310-horsepower. For more power, MasterCraft offers a 5.7 liter LTR, which is a 330-horsepower multiport EFI V-8. On the big end is the new Vortec L18 HO 8.1-liter V-8 with 496-cubic-inches that puts out 425-horsepower. It has a Northstar distributor-free ignition. Most MasterCrafts are available to upgrade to the new Cadillac LQ9, which is the Indmar marinized version of the Vortec HO 6000 used in the Cadillac Escalade. This engine is a 6.0-liter V-8 that dishes out 385 horsepower. It features high-compression, dished aluminum pistons and comes with an Indmar-designed, oversized, high-flow exhaust manifold. All engines have a “limp-down” mode that shuts down individual cylinders if the engine ever loses coolant. Each LQ9 engine comes standard with a closed cooling system. All V-drive units are mated to MasterCrafts’s 1.5:1 PowerSlot transmission. Direct drive models use a 1:1 gear ratio. MasterCraft uses an automotive-type fuel pump design that pushes fuel from the tank to the engine rather than pulling it. This process, they say, delivers more usable fuel and virtually eliminates vapor lock. All MasterCraft engines are drilled and tapped into steel that is integrated into the hull/stringer/liner system. MasterCraft uses a technique called clay modeling, allowing the company’s engineers to touch every surface of the boat before it ever sees a mold. Multiple adjustments are made at this point, testing the ergonomics, styling and design. COMPONENTS GELCOATS:Ultimate 8000 neopentyl glycol/isophthalic sprayed to 22 mils. RESINS: Reichhold’s Polylite 33234 and AME 5000 resin. BULK LAMINATES: Biaxial, triaxial and coremat. REINFORCEMENT:Steel, aluminum and HDPE backing plates. MOTOR MOUNTS:Drilled and tapped into steel plates laminated into the floor. FLOORS: One-piece gel-coated liner chemically and mechanically bonded to hull. STRINGERS: Monocoque pre-formed of bi-directional fiberglass and closed-cell foam. ASSEMBLY: Shoebox, joined with silicone and stainless-steel fasteners backed by HDPE. DRIVE TRAIN:Nibral strut, 1-1/8″ stainless-steel shaft, Acme props. CONTROLS: Teleflex Xtreme shift and throttle cable. STEERING WHEEL:Four-spoke polished aluminum or leather-wrapped wood-grain. GAUGES: Borg Warner with paddle wheel pickup. CARPET: 40-ounce Syntec Platinum Elite carpeting cut in one piece to prevent fraying. UPHOLSTERY: 34-ounce G&T vinyl and triple stitching over reticulated multi-density “dry foam.” KEY FEATURES MasterCraft’s most vital boating amenities. UNDERWATER GEAR The driveshaft is 1-1/8-inch stainless while the strut is made out of Nibral and through-bolted in eight places through the hull and aluminum backing plates. Tracking fins are also mounted through aluminum backing. MasterCraft boats use a variety of OJ Nibral props.. DASH All MasterCrafts are pre-wired for available options with a moisture-proof, color-coded wiring harness. MasterCraft utilizes moisture-resistant servo-driven electromechanical gauges. ProStars and MariStars have a wood-grain dash, while X-Stars have a brushed aluminum dash. All boats utilize MasterCraft’s Driver’s Command Center, which offers an integrated armrest, cup holder, 12-volt power point, MasterView seating, low-profile windshield and more. UPHOLSTERY AND CARPET MasterCraft produces its own custom upholstery with multiple layers of high-density CelMaster foam with premium 34-ounce vinyl and triple stitching put on rotocast polyethylene frames and backs. MasterCraft’s vinyl is treated with mildew inhibitors and has UV-protected triple stitching. The foam padding retains absolutely zero water. MasterCraft uses a 40-ounce, marine-grade carpeting that is unique in that it is one-piece so there are no seams to fray. TOWER This year’s Zero-Flex Flyer tower has customized integrated board racks and an innovative pilot running light on the top. You can really buff the tower out with chrome rack lights and custom-designed Clarion chrome speaker tubs with separate tweeters. WINDSHIELD MasterCraft utilizes a special extra-thick extrusion to make it more durable and reduce rattles. BALLAST SYSTEM MasterCraft ballast systems range from the fat sac under the rear bench X-5, called the fat seat, to the single-bag ballast X-7, to the full triple KGB keel line gravity system. The KGB system puts a bag where the ski locker is and two hard side saddle tanks in the rear, driven by a total of three different high-volume pumps. CUSTOMER SERVICE An interview with Rob May, Marketing Director How does MasterCraft handle customer service? We have two customers: One is the dealer and the other is the consumer. Our customer service for the consumer is dealer-based. We have the largest dealer network of any inboard manufacturer, so a costumer has more outlets for service. Wherever you are there is more than likely to be one of our dealers with a number of parts in stock. We also have an extensive technical service team inside the factory that can offer extensive dealer and customer support – those lines are open extended hours. The technical services department is staffed with the guys who know the product inside and out, and they can answer virtually any problem. After someone purchases a boat, we do a one-year survey, two-year survey and a three-year survey as well as a new owner’s survey, which we do online. So, within the first three years of being a MasterCraft owner, we will communicate with those people at a minimum of four times from the factory. For the dealer, we offer technical service across the board – everything from engines to the way we build the product. We have an in-house technical services crew that does nothing but answer dealer questions and provide them with support. We are open on Saturdays with extended hours for west coast customers to ship out any parts a dealer may need to service a customer. On the consumer side, we offer ourselves as a backup plan because we want the dealers to handle most of the field issues. They should be handled in such a manner that the customer is satisfied. If they aren’t, then MasterCraft is available to talk them through issues directly. For prospective customers, we have an 800 number that answers general questions. For specifics, they are directed to the dealer. We also have a web site, MasterCraft.com, that gives them general information and sends them to a dealer for more information. We also have contact information on the web site should a customer want to contact MasterCraft directly. WARRANTY MasterCraft’s level of commitment to the quality of its product and their confidence in the consumer’s ability to handle the boat is reflected in their customer servi
nd new boat warranty policy. In the rare case you find yourself with a claim, simply bring the boat into your dealer and your warranty will quickly be funneled directly through the corporate office. Even claims against the engines are currently forwarded to MasterCraft rather than Indmar. This reduces the amount of time MasterCraft dealers spend processing claims and gets their customers back on the water. MasterCraft also covers all labor on warranty repairs up to 100-percent of the retail shop rate for 2002 models. Extended Warranty: Warranty extensions are available. See your local dealer for details. Transferability: The warranties covering the hull, deck, stringer and engine are transferable to a second owner. The term of the transferred warranty covers any remaining time on the policy from the date of purchase by the original owner. Fees may vary so please contact your dealer for details. Additionally, your dealer can inform you of any remaining vendor warranties available that cover the different components of your boat. STANDARD WARRANTY COVERAGE • Deck/Hull/Stringer Limited lifetime guarantee for 1st and 2nd owner. • Gelcoat 12 months • Engine/Drive Train 3 years • Components 12 months • Instrumentation 12 months • Upholstery 12 months • Carpet 5 years • Labor100 % of Shop Rate DEALER NETWORK How does MasterCraft qualify its dealers? We try to find the best dealers in the market who can meet the MasterCraft standard of excellence. Not just in volume, but in credibility and service. We want the guy who has the overall package. We are number one in sales in most markets in the country. We do the utmost in researching our dealerships. Among the most basic things is that a dealer has to commit to a minimum number of products and have a line of credit that assures they can keep a good representation of the MasterCraft product on the floor. We require that they have a minimum amount of floor space and a certain amount of acreage on their lot to be able to house their boats. They also must be located on a through street with signage and they must advertise in the Yellow Pages. … It’s a pretty comprehensive list of requirements to be a dealer. They can’t just buy a few boats; they have to be part of the whole program. We do a credit check, require them to go through service school each year of their contract and they must participate in our dealer seminar. Each dealer is required to order so many boats per month so that each dealer has a significant amount of boats to show the customer. These things are objective items, but they determine what will help them be a good dealer in terms of service. We find that if these things are taken care of, the customer service issues take care of themselves. Being a good service and sales person is going to happen if you have the right elements in place. We qualify our dealers so they are set up to succeed. For our outstanding dealers, we give a service excellence award for maintaining a level of service above and beyond normal standards. Their level of parts inventory is higher, the number of service bays and certified technicians they have is all greater than the norm. These dealers are rewarded with a certificate of excellence as well as a higher warranty reimbursement rate. Approximately 30-percent of our dealers have achieved this status. Is there a standard post-sale policy? It’s really up to the dealer, but we have a program called Boat Smart that is a step-by-step process. Once the transaction is completed, the dealer goes to the water with the consumer and covers unloading the boat, preparing the boat, how to back the boat off the trailer, how to maneuver the boat and anything the customer would like to know. It’s about a 1-hour, 45-minute process. We don’t require dealers to use this program, but most of them do because it is a requirement to get to that highest level warranty labor reimbursement. After that, we recommend a variety of usual maintenance standards in the owner’s manual. Does the dealer have the ability to do engine repairs? Every MasterCraft dealer is required to have a certified EFI technician in-house. They have to go through EFI training, which MasterCraft provides free of charge for the dealers. This allows the dealer to do diagnostics and basically fix any part of the engine. The warranty position with MasterCraft and Indmar is really unique. We are the only boat company that actually warranties the engine as well, so if there is an engine problem the dealer doesn’t call Indmar, they call MasterCraft. We specify a minimum number of parts a dealer must stock on each particular engine. That is required for quick turnaround, and we do random inventories to remind the dealers what they might need. We will soon have a parts inventory management system that will keep track of a dealers’ stock and ship parts directly to fulfill their requirements.