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Carmen Macdonald

A passion for fishing and hunting grew into a career that's included Alaskan guide, media sales, writer and the politics of outdoor recreation. My company, Vaunt Marketing, represents industry-leading brands in the US and Canadian markets.

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December 18, 2013

North River and Clemens Replace Wounded Warrior Boat

by Carmen Macdonald

Tuesday, December 17th was a good day for Puyallup, Washington's Jeff Mason.

About a month ago, Mason's 20-foot North River was stolen from his home in broad daylight. A new neighbor actually watched it happen, but did not think much of it in the daylight.

What separates Mason's boat from many thousands of other North River hulls in the market was its purpose. Mason, having retired from 34 years with 7-Eleven as a market manger, had the boat custom outfitted to accommodate a wheelchair. His retirement endeavor was to be Fish'n Trips For Heroes, a non-profit with a singular goal "To take Wounded Warriors in the Warrior Transition Battalion, over at JBLM, out on one-on-one fishing trips in the Northwest," said Mason.

Word spreads quickly, and in no time the news had made it to the North River factory, Clemens Marine and North RIver CEO Brent Hutchings.

In a shorter amount of time than it took for me to hear about the story, North River and Clemens had replaced Mason's boat, yesterday in fact.

101.9 Kink FM has the interview and full story.

More about Mason and his stolen boat from Komonews.com.

Merry Christmas to all, and thank you to the members of our armed forces, active, retired, wounded and not.

February 05, 2013

North River Boats, Back On The Throttle

by Carmen Macdonald

You just might notice a few more North River Boats on the show floor this week at the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen's Show at the Portland Expo Center.

At January's Portland Boat Show, I couldn't help but notice a reinvigorated selection of North River hulls at Clemen's Marine.

The brand seemed to all but disappear when past owner Brian Brush led the company to financial ruin and then sealed his own path to hell by committing murder.

As Brush stood trial and awaited his impending life sentence, talk of the company was overshadowed by the sadness for the life Brush took and it was probably assumed that the company, and all of its' employees, had faded away.

That's certainly what I would have expected.

Surprisingly, however, the company never went anywhere. Downsized for sure. Owned by the banks and massively restricted by loss of available credit, absolutely. Unable to floor boats with retailers and without a motor company distribution deal, yep. But not gone.

Rather than going away, North River was held together by commercial contracts that kept a steady flow of craft moving through the production facility east of Roseburg. For the remaining employees, it was a stressful period. Under bank ownership, the company could have been shut down on any given day.

Buoyed by the strength of design, materials and construction quality that have always defined North River, the company pressed on. Contracts continued to come, and even some recreational boat dealers paid cash for boats so they could offer the North River product line to their customers.

Clean lines, beautiful fit and finish and excellent handling qualities positioned North River as the hard-core riverboat with the finer detail points that allowed them to cross over into the family boat market.

For three and a half years, North River Boats operated day-to-day-to-day. On August 15, 2012, however, purchase of the company's assets was finalized by Oregon-based NW Bend Boats. The company does business as North River Boats. The investment firm has no intention of moving the brand's production facilities from Roseburg, Oregon.

Over the last five months, North River has continued to book orders from its recreational, commercial and government customers.

Brent Hutchings, new North River CEO said, "There's no longer the burden of receivership. Thanks to the efforts of North River's outstanding employees and the exceptional financial strength of the new parent company, the company has a bright future."

Fans of North River Boats will be excited about what has not changed within the company. Of 75 employees, a vast percentage have been with the company longer than 10 years. Jay, Mike, Gary, Jordan… all the familiar names are there.

Over 2 years ago I had the opportunity to speak with Jay Conn, North River General Manager. He mentioned that at the time when the company seemed to be falling apart, he made a commitment to the crew that if they stuck it out, he'd stand by them and be the guy to turn the lights out.

Fans of the Seahawk, Scout, Commander and Trapper will certainly be happy that switch was never flipped.
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