By this spring Whitefish's Legend Boats is expected to end conclude a three-year project to build a new state-of-the-art facility where it can design, produce and sell its fleet of family fishing and leisure boats.
“Our employees have been very patient throughout this process,” said Legend Boats co-manager Marc Duhamel. “We're working out of a facility that's really too small for what we're doing now.”
The company's current facilities – a mishmash of several buildings along the Vermillion River – were only built to comfortably accommodate around 25 employees, but around 90 people now work for Legend Boats.
The new building will regroup everything under one roof, and will feature a manufacturing area, a display area and an orientation shop for customers.
“We're trying to create a really amazing experience for the consumer,” said Jamie Dewar, Legend Boat's second co-manager.
When customers enter the 48,000-square-foot structure they'll be welcomed by a company representative who will guide them through their fleet of boats so they can find the right fit.
Once they choose their boat, they'll learn exactly how to operate it before they even get on the water.
Dewar said the facility will also greatly improve employees' experiences.
Because of the facility's distance from the old city of Sudbury, they've decided to build an in-house fitness centre for their workers.
Dewar said the fitness centre will make it easier for employees to work out before or after work, and will help encourage healthy lifestyles.
The idea was also to make coming to work a more fun and enjoyable experience.
Most workstations will be set up to have views of the adjacent Vermillion River.
The river, said Duhamel, has become an important part of the company's identity because it's where they test their boats and teach their customers how to run them.
By the time the new Legend Boats facility is up and running the company will have existed for 30 years.
Both managers' fathers – Vic Duhamel and Carl Dewar – started Legend Boats in 1986. It was, and remains, a subsidiary of Duhamel & Dewar.
“They became very aware there was not enough product for the Canadian marketplace,” said the younger Duhamel.
With Canada's larger lakes, and more unforgiving climate than many parts of the United States, customers in the Great White North needed a different kind of boat.
“We boat differently,” Duhamel said. “Up here it's a lifestyle. It's part of what we do as Canadians.”
Legend Boats, he said, became one of the first companies in Canada to sell boating packages, with the boat, motor and trailer sold together for a fixed price.
Before then, customers often had to visit different retailers and manufacturers for the three components.
“Customers just loved it,” Duhamel said.
Boat, motor and trailer packages are now commonplace in boating.
Another priority for the company – which has grown in emphasis over the years – was to build family boats that fulfil several purposes.
“They're not just a fishing boat anymore. They're a craft that gets the whole family out on the water,” Duhamel said.
The company's latest line of boats – which it unveiled this past week at its dealer show at Science North – can transition from fishing vessels, to cruisers or water-skiing.
Duhamel said that, in a sense, they're like Swiss Army Knives on water, since they can do several things well.
With the new facility in 2016, Dewar said he hopes it opens the doors for more growth for the company, an expanded line-up of boats, and more local jobs.