Montana Boat Center was established in the spring of 1992, we became a Glastron Boat Dealer in August of that year. Since then we have consistently been the largest Glastron Dealer in Montana. We believe that our commitment to the customer extends after the sale and we back up our sales with service. We are the only boat dealer in Helena (possibly Montana) that has as much space dedicated to service as we do to sales.
Tom Rispens and his brother Mark started Montana Boat Center together in 1992. In 1995 Mark and his wife left to pursue other interests. Mark is now the General Manager for D & D RV in Helena. Tom has stayed at the helm ever since. Tom began his career in the marine industry right down the street at One Way Marine when they were on Roberts St.(behind the current Montana Boat location). The year was 1982 and One Way was owned by Tom Hanson. Ever since working for One Way Marine Tom felt owning a boat dealership would be a fun and satisfying career. When Tom met his wife Betsy from north Seattle, they settled there and Tom worked for a few different boat dealers in the Seattle area. Finally he ended up at the worlds largest boat dealer, Olympic Boat Center, in the service department. After 7 years and many promotions, Tom & Betsy returned to Helena to fulfill their dream of owning a boat dealership. Montana Boat Center was established at the N. Montana location and has been growing ever since.
Glastron Boats have always been a mainstay for the dealership. They have been building boats for over 50 years. We have many friends at the factory and hundreds of satisfied and loyal owners. Glastron is an excellent boat for smaller lakes and inland waters. They believe that minimal bow rise and smooth handling are required, not optional, in a family boat. If you are looking for an affordable, great performing family boat with a lifetime warranty, look at our Glastrons. The new GT series is particularly exciting. Glastron has also moved forward with online, market based pricing. This means that you can surf over to Glastron.com and price out your new Glastron and you will know exactly what it will cost you. This gives the comfort that everyone gets a great deal and you know all the information you will need before you have to talk to a sales person. This has leveled the playing field for all of us in the smaller markets and we now sell for the same price as the dealers in the large markets.
In 1996 it was decided to expand into affordable aluminum fishing boats. The brand chosen was Monark. Monark was a division of Starcraft and Smoker/Sylvan. This company has a rich heritage in the aluminum boat industry and also builds some fiberglass boats as well. The reason behind choosing Monark was that they had a nice looking, well built, and most importantly, affordable package concept. For the next 2 years over 40 Monarks were sold but, in 1998 the company changed its philosophy and ventured into over priced, welded aluminum boats with very little eye appeal. So the decision was made to let the line go.
At about the same time Townsend Marine decided to get out of fiberglass family boats and concentrate on Lund. So the MBC took over the Larson line of boats. While both Larson and Glastron were built by the same parent company, at the same plant in Little Falls, MN. they appeal to different buyers. Larson is the oldest, continuous operating, boat manufacturing company in the USA. In 2003 they celebrated 90 years of boat building. In June of 2009 Genmar, the parent company, filed bankruptcy. The company finally exited bankruptcy in January 2010. When the dust settled, Glastron and several other companies were sold to another company, Larson and a few other companies (Genmar had over a dozen brands) stayed with the ownership and management that was in control when the bankruptcy was filed. We chose to keep Glastron. This same period of time brought another interesting boat line into MBC. One day a gentleman wanted to consign a deck boat. The Crew at MBC wasn’t sure if it would sell or not. After one week on the lot it was sold. The purchaser needed a few minor parts for the boat and the factory was contacted. Parts were attained, the customer left happy. The next week the factory called and asked if we would like to work some sales prospects they had in Montana, since they had no dealer in the area we said yes.. We began to contact these people and before we knew it we had sold a few new boats. We were now a Hurricane Dealer. They were part of our business for several years. But after several disagreements with the factory over warranty issues, we decided to opt for a newer, more exciting, customer satisfaction oriented company. Read on to find out whom.
After Monark was put out to pasture, we were without an aluminum fishing boat line. We went this way for over 3 years. But at the Godfrey/Hurricane dealer meeting in 2002 for the 2003 model year, Tom saw some interesting new fishing boats added to the well known and respected line of Polar Kraft boats. These were as nice and well built as any fishing boats on the market and had superior performance features over lines like Lund and Crestliner. They were also priced a little better. However they were difficult to sell and the name wasn’t well known in this part of the world, so after one season we decided to pursue other interests. During the same time frame we added Honda outboards. Honda has been a well known and highly regarded company for years. They were gladly welcomed into the family. With their 5 year non-declining warranty, they are a premium product and are smooth, quiet and reliable.
The market was also ripe for a inboard ski boat line after Performance Marine closed their doors. After looking at all the companies available in Montana, the brand with the most mispronounced name in the boat industry was chosen…Tige. Pronounced like a Texan would say tiger, Tige is the fastest growing company in this category of boats and has the best financial position of any boat company MBC has ever dealt with. They are debt free. The factory is provided by the city of Abilene, Texas. They build a solid boat with the best warranty in the boat business, Life Plus. If it fails they will give you a new hull. They have NEVER had to replace a boat hull under warranty. We think they are pretty confident in their boat. That wasn’t the only reason they were chosen. They have more interior room than anyone else and they make the best wake for wakeboarding. They don’t need tons of water ballast weight or wedges (drag hardware) to make a great wake either. If you want to water ski change the setting on the TAPS system (from the drivers seat) and you are ready to go. Another key feature is the ride in rough water, most of us will never get to boat on a private water ski lake, we go where everyone else does and the water gets rough form time to time. Tige can handle it. Come in and check them out you will be as impressed as we are. This is the perfect boat for the hot new sport of Wakesurfing, come in and we will teach you how.
In our on-going efforts to provide our great customers with affordable boating we found a line of fishing boats called Fisher. These are all welded aluminum fishing boats of all configurations. They started under $11,995 (boy those were the days). Fisher is a division of a very well known boat company called Tracker Marine. You may have heard of them. They make the Bass Tracker boat line, Sun Tracker boat line and the infamous Nitro Bass boats. They are arguably the most famous boat company around. Founded by Johnny Morris, (owner of the Bass Pro Shops) they have built boats for thousands of boaters. In 2003 we went to the Fisher Boats National dealer meeting, it was held in conjunction with the Tracker Boats Meeting. At the meeting we decided that since the boats were nearly identical and Tracker had the better known name, we would switch to the world famous Tracker Boats.
During the 2006 year we began to see the need for a more luxurious pontoon boat company. At meetings all across the country we asked other dealers who took care of them, who treated the customer and the dealer right and who built a great boat. The answer from dealers everywhere, went something like this, “Get Bennington if you can, they are fantastic” or “I wish I had signed up with Bennington, I can’t compete with them”. It was always the same company, once or twice a few others have come up, but most often Bennington was mentioned. So we pursued the line. We didn’t have to pursue very hard because they were looking for a dealer in our area. If you are looking for a boat that will make you and your friends say “WOW!” come in and see the Benningtons. Packaged with a Honda Outboard you get a 5 year “bumper to bumper” warranty. They are sweet boats, with tasteful colors and the most comfortable seating. They are an exciting part of our future.
After 4 years with Tracker we decided that they were too hard to continue working with. Their prices were great but the service was lacking. After adding Bennington it became obvious just how bad we were treated. We did not have enough time to fight with them so we ended the relationship and went looking for something different that no one else was doing a good job with. We found the Weldcraft Boat line. However after 3 years the pricing had risen beyond what most people were willing to pay , so we switched to a more affordable welded fishing boat line called Jetcraft in 2011.
With Larson no longer “in the stable” we wanted a line of well built boats. After shopping and comparing our experiences with some of our other current boat companies (Bennington wont the JD Power award every year it was offered for pontoon boats, Honda every year for outboard engines, Tige was right in the running and we like their debt free status) we found a JD Power award winning company that was debt free and dedicated to quality. Regal Boats has been added for the 2012 season. Come in and look them over, they are very impressive.
In 2007 we also expanded our accessory offerings and have grown this portion of our business dramatically. The 2007 model year was the best we have ever had. The new 2012’s all look great and have started selling well, we are optimistic for the 2012 year as well. We continue to grow and have been enjoying our customers and employees for 20 years. 2012 is our 20th anniversary. Every year we continue to grow. We continue to service the product we sell and look forward to a bright future in a fun business. We expand our parts and accessories every year and try to add new exciting products, and we constantly strive to improve our service department. We thank all of our customers and suppliers for their continued support.
We look forward to an exciting 2012 and to meeting our customers, both old and new, throughout the year. If we can help you in any way please don’t hesitate to call. See you on the lake!
Montana Boat Center
2531 N. Montana Ave Helena MT 59601
Phone: 406-443-6400 Fax: 406-443-2498
Toll Free Phone: 800-443-6408