Polaris to buy America's biggest pontoon maker in $805M deal

Boat Holdings is the owner of brands including Bennington and Hurricane.
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Snowmobiles for the winter, pontoons for the summer – Polaris is now arguably the most Minnesotan company there is.

The off-road vehicle maker, based in Medina, announced on Wednesday that it's buying Boat Holdings LLC for a whopping $805 million in cash.

The purchase is expected to close later this year, and would make Polaris the owner of the largest maker of pontoon boats in the United States.

Boat Holdings has four major brands – Bennington, Godfrey, Hurricane and Rinker – which between them have more than 200 base models, with the company generating $560 million in sales last year.

Pontoon boats are one of the largest growing products in the marine market, and ownership numbers have exploded in Minnesota in recent years.

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The Star Tribune reported two years ago how pontoons have been one of the growth drivers for boat sales in Minnesota since the recession, with the Brainerd Lakes area counties of Aitkin and Crow Wing having the highest rates of pontoon ownership in the state.

Polaris has recognized this move towards luxury watercraft options, saying the purchase of Boat Holdings "epitomizes our disciplined growth strategy of entering attractive markets where we can establish and extend our leadership position."

"Boat Holdings expands Polaris’ footprint in the recreational outdoors market, commanding more of consumers’ discretionary spending," said CEO Scott Wine. "Our product lineup will offer options to be enjoyed on the roads, trails, sand, dirt, snow and water."

Polaris recently entered the Fortune 500 list for the first time.

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