North River Boats Joins Forces With Willie Boats, Inc.
ROSEBURG AND CENTRAL POINT, OR – November 1, 2023. Two iconic Oregon boat companies, North River Boats and Willie Boats, have joined forces under a new parent company, 44° North Marine, helmed by CEO Brent Hutchings.
North River, the premier builder of heavy-gauge aluminum boats, and Willie Boats, the best-in-class builder of aluminum drift boats and power boats, are an unprecedented combination, well-poised to serve commercial, recreational, first responder and military customers.
“We have known and respected the people and products of Willie Boats for decades and are thrilled to now combine these world-class teams,” said Brent Hutchings, CEO of 44° North Marine. “Willie Boats employees will join North River employees to become shareholders in the combined company through participation in its Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).”
“It’s the dream team,” said long-time Willie Boats President and owner, Jim Bittle. “This deal assures the future of Willie Boats, and I could not be happier for my customers and employees.” As a consultant, Bittle will assist in the company’s transition.
Willie Boats will continue to manufacture drift boats, powerboats and raft frames at its location in Central Point, Oregon. Demonstrating commitment to the Rogue Valley, Hutchings, who hails from Medford, signed a 20-year factory lease with three 10-year extensions. North River remains in Roseburg, Oregon where it currently employs 150 people.
The combination of North River and Willie Boats creates an exciting and promising future for both companies as they continue their long history of providing premium-quality vessels for a wide range of recreational, commercial and government customers.
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