Front Runner, as defined by Meriam Webster, is “a contestant who runs best in the lead.” Indeed, this defines the vision of Front Runner Boats’ founders, two fishing buddies and business partners who saw an opportunity to build the boats they enjoyed, but with their own ideas on how to build them better!
Most boat builders make the same claim, but Front Runner Boat’s founders, Mark Lacovara and Phil Mahn have substantiated that claim with real innovations learned from their vast years of experience. They started out fixing up boats and selling them; that led to a boat dealership they began in 2016. But frustrated with the constant missed or uncertain delivery dates and having to service the dealership boats that came in with a laundry list of issues from; repowering, rewiring, installing electronics—everything except the fiberglass; they asked themselves, why not just build a boat ourselves?
One idea was to more efficiently use space on the Front Runner models compared to the boats they had experienced while keeping the price point lower than competitor center consoles on the market. According to Lacovara, “A 39 with quad 350s starts at $440,000. That is a running boat, you just have to add electronics. It includes the big console, hardtop, sink, and berth down below. We’ve taken all the space in the boat and utilized it.” (Trade Only Today interview with Reagan Haynes, Nov. 2019)
Partners Lacovara and Mahn realized they had to build a product that was going to be a looker but at the same time needed to show the “Better Build” features that would position the Front Runner brand to lead in the crowded center console market. Starting the business with sufficient private funding (no corporate investors, no loans, no silent partners) has helped with cost management. The company operates out of a 12,000 square-foot building in St. Johns, FL with 23 employees. Front Runner Boats are designed with a service mindset; it is our goal to build a quality boat at a quality price, with a designer who’s pedigree includes designs for Rybovich, Garlington, Gamefisherman, L&H, Maverick…renowned naval architect, Erwin Gerards of EG Designs.
Erwin Gerards came to the USA after completing his studies in Naval Architecture at the University of Rotterdam. He moved to Florida in 1999 and was hired as an in-house Naval Architect at Rybovich Spencer, working directly for Gary Hilliard who was head boat builder back then and from whom he learned the design/build traditions of sportfishing boats and the industry. In 2004, he started his own design firm, EG Designs. Erwin Gerards has designed for some of the most well-known and respected brands of sportfishing boats—Michael Rybovich, Gamefisherman, Garlington, L&H, Maverick as well as some custom sportfish builders. Steeped in the design traditions of these premium builds, EG Designs has worked with Front Runner Boats to incorporate classic styling, from big bow flair to the high-performance stepped bottom, along with cutting-edge engineering and innovation. Quality is built into each Front Runner by utilizing the best construction materials for superior fit and finish.
One of the “Better Build” priorities is to have a boat that is easier and more cost-effective to maintain, without compromising efficiency (not sure what you mean by efficiency–do you mean space? Quality? Value?). As Mordy Miltz, United Yacht Sales Certified Professional Yacht Broker and Factory Sales & Service Rep for Front Runner Boats describes; “The lazarette opens up into the easily serviceable bilge which features dual Best Marine sea chests. Each sea chest has 3 pumps as well as hi and low-speed pickups. The sea chests also supply water for all onboard systems that utilize seawater (live wells, washdown, air conditioning and Seakeeper, if equipped).
Our bilges feature a clean design, with maintainability in mind. Steering and trim tab pumps are plumbed into the console to reduce corrosion as well as to keep them out of the elements for longevity. All hardware is stainless, the plumbing is organized, wiring is well secured and serviceable, all the while a guy of 6’4” height could easily access any pumps, hoses, wiring, or anything else that could be a potential service item with ease.” The console features a side entrance to the amazingly cavernous and comfortable interior space which includes; full berth, sink, head and 12v air conditioning. LED running lights and lighting throughout, including the 3 transom livewells! The creature comforts don’t jeopardize fishability as every avid fisherman will appreciate that the Front Runner is rigged for serious offshore fishing.
Front Runner Boats uses a Factory-Direct sales model for its line of semi-custom builds. Mordy Miltz handles sales and service in the New England, South Florida and Mid-Atlantic areas. Right now, the production schedule is set up to allow 16 weeks build time, though most are being finished in 12 weeks. But Mark Lacovara has learned from his experience as a dealer to “under-promise and over-deliver”—a concept he regards as essential to building and delivering a better boat!