Operational Excellence Award
This award is given based on a manufacturing process that is distinctive, including continuous improvement, environmental solutions/innovations, lean and six sigma, R&D leadership and/or application of high technology.
Fluid Motion, (maker of Ranger Tugs and Cutwater Boats), Kent
rangertugs.com and cutwaterboats.com
The boating industry shrank during the Great Recession, but Fluid Motion weathered the storm. This 55-year-old company quadrupled in size over the past six years thanks to innovative products and manufacturing. Their sideways thrusters – unheard of on boats of this size – make docking a cinch. Solar panels, diesel engines and a unique hull design all increase efficiency and convenience. Their boats are also designed to easily fit on a trailer. These “boater homes” even double as a camper during cross-country road trips. The company buys its thousands of parts locally, which allows them to keep an eye on quality and quickly respond to potential problems in the supply chain. These made-in-Washington boats bring nautical dreams to life for a growing armada of satisfied customers.
Also of note:
• Fluid Motion has grown from 30 workers to 125 and from one factory to five since 2007, a time that saw the rest of the boating industry shrink by 30 percent.
• Their Ranger Tugs and Cutwater Boats lines are as popular in Japan, China, Norway and Russia as they are in North America.
• Every buyer gets two days of on-water training with a licensed caption and one day to learn the systems, which cuts down on the common complaint that boats are too complicated to master.
• Fluid Motion organizes and leads annual boating expeditions to build brand loyalty. Company Vice President Jeff Messmer recently was part of a 73-boat Rangers trip to Desolation Sound.