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Avid Fishermen Save Maple Lake Boat Company

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MELROSE, Minn. (WCCO) — There’s a booming boat business in the land of 10,000 lakes, thanks to four men who’ve brought Warrior Boats back to life.

“Just opened!  Everybody’s busy!  Keeping people going,” said co-owner Chuck Barth.

Barth and his business partners are bringing back an old state favorite. Warrior Boats closed down in Maple Lake about three years ago. The boat building business was a casualty of our bad economy.

Barth and the other men started talking about the idea just a month after the company closed down.  They ended up buying the Warrior name, its fiberglass molds and its tools. They hope future generations can enjoy these boats as much as they have.

“It was too good a boat to let go onto the horizon to never see again,” said Barth.

This avid fisherman decided he really wanted another Warrior boat, but there was no way to get one after the company closed.

The new plant opened a month ago in Melrose, Minn., a small town along Interstate 94, about a two-hour drive northwest of the Twin Cities. It employs nine workers.

“All the great attributes of the old Warrior is the new one, except a little bit better,” said co-owner Al Leinen.

The company is bringing back 15 models, either tiller-steered or steering wheel boats. They’re designed to flare the wake away from the boat and into the water.

About 30 boats have been sold so far.  Dealers in a half dozen states are working with the company.

The owners plan to expand their operation in the future and actually add a second building at the Melrose location to allow them to manufacture more boats.

“Our goal is 600 boats a year eventually,” Barth said, including combination fish and ski boats.

He and his business partners want to expand on the Warrior name in the future and keep a Minnesota original floating in its home state for years to come.

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