The original Gillgetter compact pontoon boat was manufactured in the summer of 1990 by Mellinger Boats, and consisted of a pair of 15″ diameter pontoons with a 4′ x 8′ deck that was furnished with two swivel fishing seats. The vessel was originally designed as an affordable two person fishing boat with tiller steering that could be easily trailered and possessed the characteristics of a pontoon boat. As demand developed for the compact pontoon concept, the Gillgetter line expanded to include several models with 6′ and 7′ widths and lengths ranging from 10 to 20 feet. Gillgetter pontoons quickly earned a reputation for sound construction.
In February of 2003, Apex Marine acquired the assets of Mellinger Boats. Mark Dupuie, owner and president of Apex Marine, helped develop the original dealer network for Mellinger and was anxious for the opportunity to acquire the company. Dupuie also owns American Soft Trim, Inc., a company that manufactures OEM and aftermarket marine seating products.
With Apex Marine at the wheel, the goal was to build on the solid reputation Gillgetter had earned, expand the dealer network, and explore new markets for compact pontoon boats. While the overall construction of the Gillgetter line remained the same, immediate enhancements were made to improve the cosmetic appeal and incorporate the upholstery products and experience of American Soft Trim. Apex set out to build the best “Little” pontoon boats on the market.
Apex Marine realized significant growth justifying the acquisition of a larger manufacturing facility in March of 2005. The new facility not only allowed Apex to double their manufacturing square footage but it also provided space to integrate the operations of American Soft Trim. Eventually, it provided room for additional support staff and automated production equipment including a water jet cutting system and full time engineer.
Apex Marine remains unique by focusing solely on the compact pontoon boat market. In 2006, Apex pioneered this market with the introduction of the Qwest line. The Qwest line was designed for those who need or want a smaller pontoon boat but desire high end furnishings. This was the first and remains the only luxury compact pontoon boat.
In the future, look for Apex to continue its focus on the compact pontoon market. Plans for new markets and new products are already in the works.