RUSKIN – It’s a boat. It’s round. It’s made for one person. It comes from Ruskin. It’s very cool, indeed.
If you’ve not yet heard of Roundabout Watercrafts it’s likely only a matter of time. They make one-person round boats which is not something you see everyday and their off-the-beaten-path location isn’t keeping them much of a secret either. While they are tucked away (very tucked away) on the banks of the Little Manatee River in Ruskin, this local start-up company seems to have skipped the ‘start-up’ chapter and jumped straight into a hot, international business. In fact, they just shipped a full container of their one-person round boats to Germany; they already have a dealer in France; and, they’ve just signed their 21st dealer in the United States – all in under 8 months, and all from their riverside offices and warehouse in Ruskin.
Don’t get me wrong. Success just didn’t happen. They put in extensive hard work before they officially launched in September 2015 including designing the first Roundabout Watercraft; securing a prototype; tweaking the prototype (improving the cup holders, for example, and reinforcing the floor), conducting lots of R&D; and, finally, finding a local company to manufacture the Roundabout Watercraft. But, now they’ve hit the ground running and seem to be finding success.
What is a Ruskin Round Boat?
“It’s an ancient boat with modern functionality”, says Managing Partner, Todd Foucher.
The Roundabout is based on an ancient ‘coracle’, or one-man round boat, considered to have been man’s first form of water transportation. They were first used in pre-Roman areas such as Wales and Scotland, but modern versions are still used extensively in the Middle East and Far East, such as the woven version shown in use in modern India.
“If people are still using this type of boat today,” says Todd, “I knew there must have been something right about them.”
Taking inspiration from the ancient coracle, experience as a fishing guide and past work with a boat builder, Todd and his business partner, Scott Williams, set out to create a modern version of this ancient vessel, and the Roundabout Watercraft was born.
While the Roundabout Watercraft officially launched in September 2015, Todd and Scott were able to secure a local manufacturer (Lake Wales) which enabled them to lower the cost of the boat in January 2016 – just three months into business. You can check out their products here. Since the price decrease business has picked up and they’ve had to boost production to keep up with increased demand.
A Ruskin Round Boat Is For?
Apparently just about anybody that likes being on the water. According to Todd, people who buy a Roundabout are into all sorts of water activities from fishing and hunting to kayaking (Yes, it’s a great, motorized alternative for sight-seeing, and often less expensive than a kayak). The boat is good for small, shallow and calm water as well as bigger, choppier water. It’s quiet, too. Check out some of their videos. So, it’s not just for fishing but, it’s great for fishing!
Top-Two Questions Asked about the Roundabout Watercraft
- Can you install a live well (the fishermen are asking this one)? Yes.
- Can it hold more than one person? They’re working on this Coast Guard rating but, for now, it’s a one-person boat.
A Hands-On Operation
Roundabout Watercrafts is still a small operation (three people), but growing. Today, Managing Partner Todd Foucher, and Sales and Operations Manager, Brad Leber, run the day-to-day operations in Ruskin, and Managing Partner, Scott Williams, oversees the finances.
It’s all hands on deck, too. Boats arrive from the manufacturer without storage doors or hinges. Todd and Brad install these. They also paint the best-selling ‘cammo-style’ boat at the warehouse in Ruskin. Solid-color boats arrive ready to have storage doors and hinges installed – no painting necessary.
As any small business owner knows it’s not always easy building a business from the ground up. Everything requires research and learning. In the case of Roundabout Watercrafts, since they launched, they’ve been discovering everything from how to prepare a container for shipment to Germany to how to paint a polyethylene boat to look ‘cammo’ (the most popular color choice, btw). Todd, Scott and Brad do it all.
It’s always great to see a home-grown company do well. You add to that the fact that it’s a cool and innovative product and there’s just a tad bit more hometown pride. Oh, did I mention they are charity-minded, too? They’ve recently donated boats to Hooked on Hope, a breast cancer charity, and to Catch A Dream Foundation, a children’s charity.
Do you want to try one of these Roundabout boats yourself? Roundabout Watercraft just hosted a fun demo day in Ruskin (complete with free BBQ) and they plan to do more (here’s a fun video made by their Miami dealer), but if you’re ready to check one out now simply call 844-792-2628 to set up your demo. And, if you want to learn more about Roundabout Watercrafts, here is a recent review done by Salt Strong (a Tampa company!).
Good luck to Roundabout Watercrafts! We’ll be watching you grow.
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