Scout Boats is a rare boatbuilding company. After 25 years with the same owner at the helm, they remain an independent, family owned and debt–free business that has built a reputation for forward-looking design, advanced engineering, high-quality construction and superior customer service. This sterling reputation began with one man’s passion for boatbuilding.
Steve Potts was born at the submarine base in Groton, Connecticut and grew up with an infatuation for ships and boats. His father served in the Navy and the family was transferred to Charleston, South Carolina. When he was 14 years old, Steve Potts began working at the Outboard Shop, a boat dealership in Charleston. When he wasn’t cleaning boats he helped with building a small fiberglass boat branded as a Scout. Along with hand building its own little inshore skiff, the Outboard Shop sold several high-quality brands and Potts quickly absorbed the characteristics and features that make these brands outstanding.
As a teen, Steve Potts liked go fast on boats and would tweak the hull bottom of his speedboat to gain advantage over the competition. Through experimentation, trial and error, he discovered the concept that what makes running surfaces more effective also made them more efficient.
In the mid-‘60s, Steve Potts went to work for American Fiberglass training employees to repair imperfections on fiberglass fabrications. He rapidly worked his way up to becoming a plant manager. At night and on weekends he repaired bathtubs and set that money aside for the day he might want to start his own boatbuilding business.
In 1978 the Outboard Shop was sold and the new owners had no interest in building boats. Scout, as a brand, discontinued being produced.
“When I was in my mid-’30s, I knew I wanted to do my own thing. I always had an affection for that little boat, the Scout, and in particular the brand name. Among the Charleston locals it was an in-demand used boat and considered a quality fishing boat. I started by developing a 14-, and a 15- and a 17-foot boat in ’88 and ’89, and started the company in 1989. I was 37 years old.”
With his wife Dianne at his side and the $50,000 that he had saved from the years of repairing bathtubs, they began building the 14 and 15-foot models. Potts obtained the Scout brand name and began to line up several dealers. On September 21, 1989, the category-4 hurricane Hugo hit Charleston, destroying the business and the Potts’ struggled to salvage what they could as the one of the coldest winters in South Carolina’s history descended upon their little operation.
With resources about to run out, Steve Potts targeted the 1990 Atlanta Boat Dealer Show as their last ditch hope. Bringing the existing 14, 15 foot models presented little challenge. However, the newly designed 17-foot Scout was barely finished in time to make the show. The boats were distinctive and the quality was so impressive that Scout was able to sign more than thirty east coast dealers at the show and, as they say, ”the rest is history.”
Over the years, Scout Boats have earned a notoriety for pioneering innovations. Most recently Scout created the first production outboard model to utilize digital switching to monitor and control the boats systems. The 275 Dorado with C-Zone digital switching reduces the complexity and improves reliability by replacing massive centralized cable harnesses and myriad dash mounted switches with a single NEMA communication cable allowing switching and monitoring of systems through the Garmin display unit.
Today, Scout Boats offer some of the best fuel efficiencies in their class. The 15-foot to 19-foot models still incorporate the efficient and stable “Air-Assist” hull design developed for the original Scouts. The larger boats incorporate Scout’s NuV3 hull design that incorporates variable degree angles to increase fuel efficiency and ride comfort. The largest Scout models also incorporate Scout’s Stepped Hull Technology that adds 10%-15% performance increase.
“Scout hull designs are very distinctive. I had always set out to create distinctive enough appearances and features and styling that separated the Scout brand from others. That was really important to me – Iwanted people to know it was a Scout, even without seeing the name on the side. Perfecting the running surface is also an area we at Scout have spent a lot of time on,” stated Potts. “I have done a lot of experimenting with hull bottoms to get better speed, better fuel efficiency, a softer ride. These are all things that are important to a boat owner.”
For their silver anniversary Scout has launched another a new model, the Scout 255 LXF, incorporating many of the innovations that they originated on their Scout 275 Dorado and later this year Scout will be introducing their largest model ever, the Scout 420 LXF. Scout is melding the center console concept with luxurious, high-end amenities typically found on large sportfish cruisers and yachts.
The next generation is already poised to take the reins at Scout. Potts oldest son, Stevie Potts, is the Head of Research and Development and daughter, Sherrie Potts Ferguson, is a manager in the Human Resources Department.
The next 25-years of innovative thinking and bold design style should make Scout golden.