NMMA Hall of Fame Award
2016: Robert Menne, Premier Marine and Victor Porter, Thunderbird/Formula
Victor B. Porter, Chairman of Formula Boats, is a lifelong boater whose career was defined by his passion for boating and determination to improve the design and quality of boats.
Vic began his career in the marine industry in 1957 as a salesman. Dissatisfied with the quality of the product he represented, he decided that he could build a better boat. In 1958, he borrowed $3,000 and founded Duo Marine in Decatur, Indiana. The company’s first model boat was a 14-ft. twin outboard powered catamaran, which was followed by several runabout craft, tri-hulls, and a tunnel-hulled craft. As Vic grew the company, he acquired the Aqua Swan aluminum boat and Crownline runabout brands and moved production of both lines to Decatur. Vic sold Duo Marine to Bangor Punta, owner of Starcraft Boats in 1967, and remained president of Duo until 1970.
In 1970, Vic founded Signa Corp., his second boat company, which manufactured both inboard and outboard powered tri-hull boats. Vic sold Signa to Fuqua Industries, the parent company of Thunderbird/Formula boats in 1973, and served as President of Thunderbird/Formula/Signa for three years, ultimately purchasing the three lines in 1976.
Back at the helm, Vic steered the company and Formula brand to a position of world-renowned recognition for design and quality. The company grew into a dedicated workforce of 600 employees in a 345,000 sq. ft. facility (now 500,000 sq. ft.) that housed product engineering, design, production, sales, marketing and management under one roof. In 1989, as family members stepped into executive roles, Vic settled in as Chairman, continuing to advocate the Formula legacy of innovation, quality and performance.
Throughout his career, Vic has been involved with organizations that benefit the marine industry. He was active in the BIA (Boating Industry Association) when it merged with the NAEBM (National Association of Engine and Boat Manufacturers) to become the NMMA (National Marine Manufacturers Association). Vic served on the boards of both the BIA and the NMMA.
Vic has long supported and worked to improve the community that is home to Thunderbird Products, spearheading the development and funding of Decatur’s industrial park, serving on the Indiana Central College (now University of Indianapolis) board, the Anthony Wayne Boy Scout Council, Cole Foundation and Adams Memorial Hospital, to name just a few. Recognition of his efforts include the Indiana Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award and the Stephen Decatur Award. He was inducted into the Junior Achievement Greater Fort Wayne Business Hall of Fame and was named a Sagamore of the Wabash by Governor Otis Bowen. Thunderbird received the Decatur Chamber of Commerce Large Business of the Year Award in 2000.
Today Vic and Kristine, his first mate and wife of 66 years, his six children and 30 grandchildren and great grandchildren, enjoy creating memories in Formula boats on Indiana lakes and south Florida waters. As Chairman, Vic remains active in the business, working with his five children who are company executives, and the six grandchildren who also work for the company.