Larson Boats approved for one-year extension on Triumph Boat job creation project

By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

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At Tuesday’s meeting, the Morrison County Board approved a request made by Al Kuebelbeck for the Minnesota Investment Fund to extend the Triumph Project for one year, as projected jobs established fell short by three.

“The county acts as a pass-through agent for these funds from the state,” said County Administrator Deb Gruber.

Larson Boats had projected creating 20 jobs in three years, but due to economic conditions and customer financing constraints, fell short by three jobs.

Additional factors in the shortfall included the reluctance of finance companies and banks to lend money to dealers to stock additional inventory, dramatic increases in gas prices and high unemployment.

“Nationally, 75 percent of people who have applied for a boat loan have been turned down,” Kuebelbeck said.

Carol Anderson, executive director at Economic Development of Morrison County, said, “The paperwork for the project was dated May 27, 2010 and Larson Boats didn’t receive the check for funding until January of 2012.”

“For this upcoming year, we are cautiously optimistic that business will improve,” said Kuebelbeck. “We are seeing some movement in the right direction by our lenders, and a very positive sign is the 15 percent increase in boat registrations in the last year.”

In 2011, 60 percent of Larson Boat’s business was from Canada. Twenty percent of its business was international; Larson sells to 37 different countries.

Kuebelbeck wished to dispel two rumors that he’s heard. “Triumph Boats is not closing or moving to China,” he said. “And we are working four days per week with 210 full-time employees.”

“We just completed a full week of training with the sales team for a new line of fishing boats which will help us gain business,” Kuebelbeck said.

Larson Boats is marking its 100th anniversary in 2012. Kuebelbeck has been with Larson Boats for 43 of those 100 years.

“The last three years have been probably the most difficult I’ve put in in this business,” he said. “It’s the people who keep me going. It’s a team effort; the employees are so dedicated to the company.”