To simply say that Scout Boats is an innovative fishing boat company would be a gross understatement. Under the guiding vision of company President Steve Potts, Scout has earned a reputation for being on the cutting edge of design and quality. Consider just a few of the unique design features that make a Scout a Scout. It all starts with the in-house design team headed by Steve Potts.
Through his thirty plus years of boat building experience, Steve has learned what works and what doesn’t when it comes to boat design. What may look good to a designer on a drawing board may not work when it comes to the real world rigors of the marine environment. When Steve set out to design his Scout boats, he already had a firm knowledge base from which to draw upon. He paid special attention to what designs didn’t work and why, valuable knowledge when you’re designing your own boats from scratch. One important lesson Steve learned was that the conventional way of bonding the deck to the hull was poorly conceived from the beginning. Most manufacturers lay the deck over the hull and then screw the two parts together. The flaw here is that in rough conditions, water is allowed to get between the joint and into the boat, the last place it should be. By pioneering the industry’s first reverse-shoebox hull/deck design, Steve not only increased the overall strength of his hulls, but made them safer at the same time.
Another innovation that Scout helped to pioneer was the eradication of all wood in boat construction. Wood rots, it’s just that simple. No matter where wood is placed during the construction of a boat, eventually it will rot and the resulting damage can be beyond repair. That’s why, from the very beginning, Scout boats have had composite stringers and transoms. An additional innovation unique to Scout is the Air-Assist hull. Steve designed this unique feature specifically to combat the problem of static stability, common on small boats. With additional longitudinal buoyancy, the Air-Assist hull increases static floatation and decreases time to plane and also vastly improves overall handling characteristics. An important advantage of this design is increased fuel economy.
Scout is always developing new and innovative construction methods. For instance, the engine mounting system on the 222 Sportfish and larger models, called the “Scout Strata-Mount” is a fully factory molded bracket with one very important feature: the two main longitudinal grid stringers pass through the transom and are integrated into the engine mount. This design allows the natural stresses of the engines to be spread out over the entire hull, increasing strength, durability and performance. Scout’s state-of-the-art 230,000 square foot manufacturing facility is climate controlled and houses four 5-ton bridge cranes, a sophisticated 32′ X 12′ test tank for water testing, inspection tunnel, a high-tech vacuum system and a quality control laboratory.
The Story of Steve Potts & Scout Boats
The story of Steve Potts, president and CEO of Scout Boats, Inc. and Scout Boats itself is one of true American entrepreneurialism, courage against seemingly insurmountable odds and unmatched dedication to making a lasting statement on an entire industry.
The story of Steve and Scout goes all the way back to Steve’s high school days, when he worked for a small outboard motor dealer called The Outboard Shop in Charleston, SC. Steve spent weekends and summers working for Homer Norton, owner of The Outboard Shop in the mid to late 60′s. Homer designed a small 14′ boat that he built onsite, which he called a Scout. Steve began building the small Scout boat for Homer and they sold quite well, even garnering a local reputation for their toughness and durability. Each boat was hand built of fiberglass with the only wood being in the transom. The little Scout was so tough that it came with a lifetime warranty.
In 1971 Steve went to work for American Fiberglass where he trained workers to repair fiberglass imperfections. In only four months he became manager of the finishing dept. In 1974 he became plant manager. He continued on with American Fiberglass until 1980, when he left their Rhode Island facility to return to South Carolina, taking a position as plant manager of the newly formed American Sail.
Steve served as plant manager for American Sail for nine years. All nine of those years Steve worked nights repairing fiberglass bath tubs. The hundred or so dollars a week he earned repairing those bath tubs was put away, saved up for the day when he would have enough money to begin building his own line of boats. You see, Steve had never forgotten that little Scout boat that he built as a teenager. He always harbored the dream of manufacturing his own line of boats under the Scout name.
As fate would have it, The Outboard Shop had been bought out by a larger company. The new ownership, wanting to focus solely on outboard sales, quit building the little 14′ Scout in 1978. However, the name still had a local following so Steve made arrangements with the new management of the Outboard Shop to use the Scout name. In return, he used The Outboard Shop as his first dealership.
In 1988, Steve walked away from a lucrative and successful career as a plant manager for the excitement and uncertainty of starting his own boat manufacturing company. With only $50,000 Steve and wife Dianne rented a small brick barn where together they began construction on the first of Steve’s newly redesigned Scout 14′ and 15′. After beating the pavement for many months showing prospective dealers his new boats, Steve had managed to sign on eight total dealers from the Charlestown and surrounding markets. Things were starting to look up.
That’s when it happened.disaster struck! The fury of hurricane Hugo hit South Carolina and destroyed the small one-room manufacturing facility Steve and Dianne had been using to produce their 14′ and 15′ boats. In addition to the facility being destroyed, many of the molds and plugs were destroyed as well. With faith, courage, and determination, Steve, with Dianne by his side, salvaged what they could and moved to a near-buy aluminum shed in an effort to rebuild. Things only got worse that winter, when some of the coldest weather to hit the Carolinas in years left record snowfall amounts that severely hampered the rebuilding process.
It took a lot of hard labor and long hours to pull things together. To make things worse, there was little time before the big 1990 Atlanta, GA dealer show. If Scout Boats was going to have a chance of surviving, Steve was going to have to get at least one example of his 14′, 15′, and the new 17′ design he had been working on before the severe storms struck, to the show. With sheer will Steve was able to get both of the smaller boats built in plenty of time for the big show. It was the new 17′ that took the longest to produce. Steve and Diane worked literally to the eleventh hour to get the new boat to the show on time. It took nearly every last dime Steve had saved over his nine years of repairing bath tubs to afford a small booth at the show.
Thankfully, the Atlanta dealer show turned out to be a big success for Steve and for his Scout boats. In an economically depressed industry where many long time industry leaders were struggling and even going under, few manufacturers were being innovative and there were very few new entries in the marketplace. Steve’s Scout designs stood out in the crowd, high quality workmanship combined with wood free construction and attention to detail, that was a rare sight, won Scout a list of 31 prospective dealers from all across the east coast.
Over the years, Steve and his team have helped Scout Boats build a reputation for being a pioneer. Scout pioneered the first reverse-shoebox hull/deck design, which increases overall hull strength and prevents water from penetrating through the hull/deck joint in rough conditions, making each boat safer and more durable. The eradication of all wood in the manufacturing process is also a Scout trademark, as it produces rot-free composite stringers and transoms.
Scout’s Air-Assist three piece hull combats static stability while at the same time adding additional longitudinal buoyancy which increases static floatation. This hull design also decreases time to plane and vastly improves overall handling characteristics with the added benefit of increased fuel economy.
Scout’s NuV3 hull design is another engineering marvel. This ‘convex’ design is comprised of variable degree angles in the hull, offering immense fuel efficiency without sacrificing performance.
The “Scout Strata-Mount” is an advanced engine mounting system on select models. It’s comprised of a factory-molded bracket which allows for the two main longitudinal grid stringers to pass through the transom and be directly integrated into the engine mount. This allows for the natural stresses of the engine to be spread out over the entire hull, increasing strength, durability and performance.
From those humble beginnings Steve has guided Scout Boats to one of the largest and most respected independent marine manufacturers in the industry today. And while Steve could easily be satisfied with what he’s accomplished, the words “slow down” simply aren’t in his vocabulary. Steve is out on the shop floor daily.continually pushing the envelope with new, cutting-edge designs. Thanks to Steve and the entire dedicated Scout family of employees, Scout Boats builds the toughest, most innovative boats on the water today and continues to grow its solid reputation for toughness and durability.