Who Bought Out Rinker Boats?

Key Takeaways:

  • In 2018, Polaris Industries Inc. purchased Rinker Boats as part of its Boat Holdings acquisition.
  • However, in spring 2020, Polaris announced it would cease production of Rinker Boats.
  • Rinker Boats was a popular fiberglass recreational boat manufacturer founded in 1945.
  • Polaris bought numerous boat brands in 2018 but struggled with integrating them.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted boat sales and manufacturing in 2020.


Recreational boating is a beloved pastime for millions of people across the United States and around the world. As a result, the recreational boat manufacturing industry has witnessed the rise and fall of numerous prominent brands over the decades. One such brand that has changed hands multiple times is Rinker Boats. Founded in 1945 and known for its fiberglass hull boats, Rinker established itself as a popular boat manufacturer. However, the company was eventually bought out and production halted. This article will examine the key events surrounding who bought out Rinker Boats and what ultimately led to the brand’s demise.

With a comprehensive chronological evaluation of Rinker’s changes in ownership, this article provides valuable insights into the boat manufacturing industry landscape. The consolidations, acquisitions, and pressures facing major players like Polaris will be analyzed. For boating enthusiasts and those interested in recreational marine brands, understanding the story behind who bought Rinker Boats delivers intriguing perspective. The detailed information presented here outlines the brand’s journey from independent builder to production shutdown under Polaris.

By covering the essential events and factors at play, readers will learn about the rise and fall of an iconic boating brand. Examining the evolving ownership and challenging market conditions provides a fascinating look at the broader recreational boating industry as well. Whether a lifelong Rinker owner or simply an avid boating fan, the in-depth content ahead explores all aspects of the question – who bought out Rinker Boats?

The Origins and Early Years of Rinker Boats

Rinker Boats was founded in 1945 by C.N. “Buddy” Rinker in Miami, Florida. The company originally operated as a boat repair and refurbishing service working on Chris-Craft boats and other brands. By the late 1950s, Rinker transitioned into manufacturing its own fiberglass hull boats ranging from 15 to 40 feet in length. The boat builder grew substantially over the following decades, establishing itself as one of the world’s largest manufacturers of mid to large-sized fiberglass recreational boats.

Headquartered in Indiana, Rinker built a reputation for quality family-friendly runabout bowriders and cruisers ideal for water sports and fishing. Models like the QX and EX express cruisers, along with bowriders such as the Captiva and Montauk, became staples of the brand’s lineup through the 1990s and 2000s. Rinker’s popularity expanded globally, with international dealers and distribution centers supporting its growth into new markets. With a focus on innovation and meeting customer needs, the Rinker family guided the company’s increasing success over its first five decades in operation.

Acquisition by Genmar Holdings in 2000

In May of 2000, Rinker was acquired by Genmar Holdings, a privately held recreational boat conglomerate. Genmar purchased Rinker for approximately $210 million, representing the marine industry’s largest transaction at the time. Founded in 1990, Genmar was one of the world’s largest boat manufacturers, owning prominent brands like Wellcraft, Four Winns, Seaswirl, and others.

Genmar opted to keep Rinker’s existing management team in place while providing additional resources to support business development and manufacturing optimization. The acquisition gave Genmar dominance in the mid to large fiberglass recreational boat market segment. Rinker’s established brand identity and diverse lineup of bowriders, deck boats, and cruisers ideally complemented Genmar’s existing brand portfolio.

Over the next eight years under Genmar ownership, Rinker continued to perform well, maintaining its position as one of the top selling recreational boat brands in the United States. Annual sales stayed steady in the $150-$200 million range through 2008. However, the financial crisis and recession severely impacted the boating industry shortly thereafter, leading to major upheaval for Genmar and Rinker.

Genmar Bankruptcy and Acquisition by Platinum Equity in 2009

The 2008 financial crisis delivered a devastating blow to recreational boat sales, with demand plummeting industry-wide. In June 2009, Genmar Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy amidst massive losses, collapsing revenue, and unsustainable debt levels. As part of its restructuring process, Genmar sold off several of its prominent brands and manufacturing facilities to raise capital.

Private equity firm Platinum Equity acquired Rinker’s operations and assets in a $70 million deal later that year. As the broader boating industry recovered over the next several years, Platinum aimed to streamline Rinker’s production and increase profitability. By divesting non-core assets and making strategic structural changes, Rinker’s financial outlook improved under Platinum’s oversight.

However, Platinum chose to put Rinker Boats back on the market by 2015, seeking new ownership to build on the positive turnaround achieved post-bankruptcy. After seven years under Platinum Equity, Rinker remained one of the recreational marine industry’s largest manufacturers and most recognizable boat brands. Rinker’s growth potential and operational improvements generated substantial interest among potential buyers.

Polaris Industries Acquires Rinker in 2018 Boat Holdings Deal

In May 2018, powersports vehicle manufacturer Polaris Industries announced the $805 million acquisition of Boat Holdings, LLC. The boat conglomerate entity included Rinker, Striper, and Larson FX boats. This represented Polaris’ inaugural entry into the recreational boating market, adding large fiberglass boats to complement its existing off-road vehicle business.

The Boat Holdings deal created instantly recognizable boat brands for Polaris while fast-tracking its entrance into marine recreation. According to Polaris CEO Scott Wine, Rinker’s strength in the fiberglass segment provided “an immediate opportunity to revitalize a compelling product portfolio.” Along with Striper saltwater fishing boats and Larson high-performance bowriders, Rinker offered Polaris a diverse range of established boat models and production capabilities.

Polaris anticipated substantial synergies and cost efficiencies from consolidating production and integrating operations. However, significant challenges emerged in merging distinct boat company cultures and manufacturing footprints. While Boat Holdings delivered strong initial revenue to Polaris, earnings ultimately fell short of expectations. Issues with supply chain, labor, pricing, and inventory management plagued Polaris’ boat business through 2019.

End of Rinker Production Announced for 2020

In April 2020, Polaris announced plans to cease production of Rinker, Striper, and Larson FX boat models by the end of the year. The COVID-19 pandemic had devastated recreational boat demand, with consumers retrenching and supply chains in disarray. Polaris determined eliminating the underperforming boat brands was necessary to focus on more profitable parts of its business.

Rinker’s 75-year run as an independent and prominent recreational boat manufacturer ultimately concluded with this decision. In a span of just over two decades, Rinker Boats went from family-owned business to bankrupt conglomerate asset to discontinued brand. While Polaris expressed commitment to growing its other boat lines like Bennington and Godfrey, the Rinker, Striper, and Larson brands faced imminent disappearance.

Despite its venerable reputation and strong dealer network, Rinker fell victim to the harsh realities of market downturns and ownership changes. The economic and industry disruptions of 2020 exacerbated the existing challenges of integrating Rinker into Polaris’ portfolio. While Polaris bought out Rinker Boats in 2018, factors driving the brand’s shutdown began accumulating years earlier.

Frequently Asked Questions

What recreational boat brands did Polaris buy in 2018?

In 2018, Polaris acquired Boat Holdings LLC which included the Rinker, Striper, and Larson FX recreational boat brands. This $805 million deal represented Polaris’ first entry into the marine market.

How long was Rinker Boats owned by Genmar Holdings?

Rinker Boats was owned by Genmar Holdings from 2000 when it was acquired for $210 million until 2009. After 8 years, Genmar filed for bankruptcy during the financial crisis and was forced to sell Rinker.

What company owned Rinker after Genmar but before Polaris?

Private equity firm Platinum Equity purchased Rinker Boats in 2009 following Genmar’s bankruptcy. Platinum owned and operated Rinker for approximately 7 years before Polaris acquired it in 2018.

What other boat brands did Polaris buy?

In addition to Rinker, Striper, and Larson FX, Polaris also acquired Bennington pontoons and Godfrey boats. However, Polaris opted to discontinue Rinker, Striper, and Larson brands in 2020 while retaining Bennington and Godfrey.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact Polaris’ boat business?

The pandemic severely reduced consumer demand and disrupted supply chains in 2020. This contributed to Polaris’ decision to cease production of underperforming Rinker, Striper, and Larson boat lines to refocus on more profitable parts of its business.

Why did Polaris struggle with its acquired boat brands?

Polaris faced challenges integrating distinct boat company cultures, supply chains, manufacturing, pricing, and inventory management. Disrupted operations and unmet earnings goals led Polaris to discontinue Rinker, Striper, and Larson brands.

What segment was Rinker known for?

Rinker built a reputation manufacturing mid to large-sized fiberglass recreational boats including bowriders, cruisers, and deck boats ideal for families and water sports.

When was Rinker Boats originally founded?

Rinker Boats was founded in 1945 by C.N. “Buddy” Rinker in Miami, Florida. It started as a boat repair business before transitioning into manufacturing its own boats.

What changes did Platinum Equity make when they bought Rinker?

Platinum Equity streamlined production, cut costs, and divested non-core assets after acquiring Rinker out of Genmar’s bankruptcy in 2009. This improved Rinker’s financial performance before selling to Polaris.


In summary, the iconic Rinker Boats brand has passed through several owners over recent decades. Founded in 1945 and known for stylish family recreational boats, Rinker was acquired by Genmar Holdings in 2000 for $210 million. After Genmar’s bankruptcy in 2009, Rinker was purchased by Platinum Equity as part of a turnaround strategy. In 2018, Polaris Industries bought Rinker as part of its Boat Holdings deal to enter the marine market.

However, Polaris ceased production of Rinker in 2020 amidst pandemic boat market declines. Despite Rinker’s long history and strong reputation, economic and ownership challenges led to its ultimate demise under Polaris’ control. The Rinker story provides informative perspective on market fluctuations, consolidation, and brand longevity in recreational boating. For enthusiasts of fiberglass boats, the discontinuation of Rinker brought an unfortunate end to a respected American boat building legacy.


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