IBEX 2018: Lippert and Barletta Team Up on Innovative Pontoon Boat

Barletta Boats and Lippert Components have partnered to build a pontoon boat whose beam can extend from 8 feet, 6 inches to 14 feet with the push of a button.

Lippert Components owns Taylor Made and other marine accessories companies, as well as recreational vehicle companies. It has been manufacturing hydraulic slide-outs for motorhomes and RVs since 2001 and has been working on applying the technology to a pontoon for about three years. Bill Fenech started Barletta in July 2017 after spending 30 years in the RV industry.

“They probably would have done it without us, but it was a good partnership to get it across the finish line,” Fenech said.

Jarod Lippert, vice president of marketing for Lippert Components, said his family’s company has been known for taking risks in the RV business but felt that the marine industry was less-prone to gambles.

“We do some wacky things, and a lot of them turn out to be awesome game-changing products,” Lippert said. “What makes this cool is Barletta wanted to do something risk-taking and innovative.”

Lippert Components and Barletta collaborated on a 25- to 27-foot triple-pontoon model, and to gauge response to it, the companies revealed a prototype at the Barletta dealer meeting in August.

“It was very rough as a concept, but the dealer response was overwhelming. Each dealer also said, ‘I want one,’ ” Fenech said.

The companies plan to unveil a production model at the Minneapolis Boat Show in January.

Lippert said his company has a team of hydraulics engineers who have developed proven slide-out technology for the RV industry. Lippert Components will build the chassis, with hydraulics for the slides, and install it on Barletta-supplied pontoons. “For us, it’s a normal boat build on top,” Fenech said. He stressed that when the boat is in the closed position, it’s trailerable at 8 feet, 6 inches in beam.

The slides can be deployed when the boat is underway. Floor sections about 3 feet wide fill in the deck to create a wide-open, single-level surface. The boat will initially be limited to a single 150-hp outboard. “The ride is comically stable, and it goes through the water surprisingly well,” Fenech said.

Pricing has not been set for the boat.