In the latest episode of Factory Fridays premiering on Friday June 10, 2022, the crew travels to Decatur, Indiana to tour the remarkable Formula/Thunderbird boat building facility. Host Ryan McVinney meets up with Patrick Laux, Formula's Plant Operations Manager, for an in-depth walkthrough of the entire 500,000 square foot facility. The building is built with windows around the entire outside so all the workers get daylight and views, and it is kept remarkably clean. The structure was purpose-built from the ground up by the Porter family, specifically for building boats.

Model year 2022 marks the 66th year in the production of fiberglass powerboats for Formula/Thunderbird. A family-owned company located in Decatur, Indiana, the brand produces boats that are world renowned for beautiful styling, advanced engineering and exciting performance on the water. With a long-established philosophy of uncompromising quality in every detail, Formula continues to be recognized as one of today’s premier powerboat builders.

The Equation Behind Formula Boats' Success 

Once inside, viewers learn the secret behind the iconic Formula Boats name, an equation that starts with "The Three P's: People, Plant and Product". It is this core philosophy that Mr. Laux says leads to happy, dedicated workers who construct some of the finest boats on the market today. Their passion and dedication is evident throughout the cavernous space.


Above: Watch the full episode of Factory Fridays Episode 11: Formula Boats with Ryan McVinney and Pat Laux at Formula's headquarters in Decatur, Indiana. 

Formula Boats History: Then And Now

Don Aronow founded Formula Boats in 1962 in Miami, Florida, where the original 233 deep-V hull design was built at his direction and earned notable victories on the national offshore racing circuit. In 1976, Vic Porter purchased Thunderbird/Formula and in March of 1988, Thunderbird/Formula consolidated corporate and production headquarters in a brand new, state-of-the-art facility in Decatur, Indiana. Formula continued to grow and evolve into the 345,000 square-foot plant over the years, and in September 2000, production capacity was expanded with a 143,500 square-foot addition. Formula expanded again in 2006 with a new 85,000 square-foot addition. Today, corporate, sales and production are all now under one roof in the current 575,000 square foot facility, ensuring ongoing collaboration in creating each boat.

Modern Formula boats have matured well beyond the speed-only image of the early 1960s, although the deep-V influence originating with past racing victories is still quite evident in the highly successful FAS³TECH Super Sport hull. The guiding force behind Formula’s vision of excellence remains the Porter family. Vic Porter held the office of Chairman Emeritus of Formula Boats until his passing in October of 2021 and now his four sons and a daughter actively manage the business. Scott Porter serves President while Executive Vice President Grant Porter directs product development and manufacturing. 

FormulaFlex And Current Products 

Out on the production line we see the full gamut of Formula's attention to detail across various assembly lines and all the detailed processes that go into constructing the brand's current models - from the largest luxury crossover boats on the market (such as the 500 Super Sport Crossover) to the brand's newest line of center console sport boats. Mr. Laux explains the individual personalization available on many key areas of Formula boats, made possible through the company's innovative "FormulaFlex" and "FormulaFlex MyWay" programs. Owners can choose from a huge variety of graphics, upholstery and electronics options, as well as create their own personalized transom names.

Full-Scale Mock-Ups: A Painstaking, Vital Step

We also learn how Formula undertakes a unique and extensive process of full-scale mock-ups for every model, prior to beginning any assembly, ensuring every inch of the boat is perfect before construction of the first hull ever begins. From molds to plugs and small parts to engine rigging, this episode reveals every phase of the boat building process that makes Formula one of the top names in the marine industry today.

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Written by: Ryan McVinney
C. Ryan McVinney is a film director, producer, writer, actor, boat captain, outdoor enthusiast and conservationist. He's currently the host and director of Boat Trader's Stomping Grounds TV show that explores boating culture across America. McVinney produces the Cult Classics video series for YachtWorld and the Factory Fridays show for and is a regular contributor to leading marine industry publications.