HANOVERTON, Ohio (WKBN) — Columbiana County has what is believed to be the only company in Ohio and Pennsylvania that makes pontoon boats.
You’ll find the business on 1st Street, right in the middle of Hanoverton. It’s about 12 miles south of Salem and nine miles west of Lisbon.
On Tuesday, the sound of a welder’s torch hummed inside Bow to Stern manufacturing facility, It’s where Sea Legends pontoon boats are made. After the welding, they checked for leaks.
“We fill them with air and it goes through all the chambers and they go with a soap bottle and they check that there’s no holes in the toons,” said Brad Wilson, owner of Bow to Stern.
Wilson started working with boats in his early 20s, moving from marina to marina. He is now 51. Six years ago, everything changed when he fixed a boat for a preacher at his church out of his garage.
“It just kind of snowballed. I just started working on the next neighbor and that’s how it all started,” Wilson said.
Wilson found himself replacing the toons — the cylinders that float the boat. So five years ago, he bought a roller to make the toons.
“I decided let me just start making a few and see if they sell. The next thing I know it just started taking off, and I started building more and more and more. Now, I’m kind of outgrowing this building,” Wilson said.
Sea Legends pontoons come in lengths of 16, 20, 24 and 30 feet and sell from $18,000 to $60,000.
“I costume build it to what they want,” Wilson said. “I’m not the cheapest builder around and I’m not the most expensive.”
In his first year, Wilson made 15 pontoon boats. This year it was 30, and he just received an order for 39 by spring. If all the parts are in place, he can do two a week. Moving and expanding is a possibility, but it won’t be far from Hanoverton.
“I love Hanoverton. It’s a really nice neighborhood down here. A lot of good people,” Wilson said.
Wilson’s company also maintains most of the pontoon boats on Guilford Lake near Hanoverton and Congress Lake in Hartville. But with his business of building new boats expanding rapidly, he’s not sure how long the maintenance end can continue.