The boating industry is rich with history and many of the industry’s most popular companies have a long-standing reputation built on many years of trust. Many companies have decades worth of respect and loyal fans. But what you may not know is that there’s one boating company with such a stronghold on the marine industry, they may just own the majority of it. And a few of your favorite brands are guaranteed to be among the many owned by the king of the waves: Brunswick.
The Brunswick Corporation: king of the waves
“Brunswick” is often a name heard floating around the boating world, but not many know the extent to which the Brunswick name reigns supreme. In fact, the Brunswick Boat Group, or Brunswick Corporation, is the largest maker of pleasure boats in the world. Its expansive portfolio includes many of the boating industry’s biggest names, such as Quicksilver, Crestliner, Sea Ray, Bayliner, Mercury Marine, and Boston Whaler. And that’s just some of the most recognizable names that sit under the Brunswick Corporation umbrella.
According to the Brunswick Corporation, its subsidiaries range from boats and boating engines to parts, accessories, and even boating finance. In total, Brunswick Corporation owns one (very large) engine company, 17 parts and accessories brands, 16 boat manufacturing brands, and seven boating business companies.
The man who unknowingly started a boating empire: John Brunswick
The Brunswick boating giant got its start nearly 200 years ago, with John Brunswick. According to the Brunswick Corporation, founding father John Brunswick emigrated from Switzerland to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1845. By September of the same year, Brunswick used his prior carriage-making talents to open up his own master wood-working shop on September 15th, 1845.
At just 14, Brunswick’s billiard shop quickly gained popularity and started to expand. Stating, “if it is wood, we can make it,” Brunswick began expanding his craft to cabinets, tables, and chairs. In just three short years, Brunswick’s woodshop expanded to an office in Chicago, as well as two factories and an 8,000 square-foot billiard parlor.
10 years into the business and Brunswick’s company became J.M. Brunswick and Brothers Billiard Table Manufacturing, with his two brothers joining in on the business. But Brunswick and his brothers couldn’t share the company for long and the business would go through many changes throughout the years.
In 1874, Brunswick made the decision to help meet the demand for Brunswick billiard tables and products by merging with rival Great Western Billiards Table Manufactory. Four years later, Brunswick merged again to become the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company and the “largest billiards equipment operation in the world.”
When John Brunswick passed away in 1886, however, the company’s new president saw an opportunity to use Brunswick’s quality work to expand the company’s reach to more industries. Over the course of a century, Brunswick’s company was responsible for manufacturing billiards, school furniture, sports equipment, musical equipment, and more.
Becoming a global leader in the industry
Brunswick’s leaders continued to expand the company’s reach for decades. It wasn’t until 1960 however, that Brunswick Corporation added the marine industry to its laundry list of achievements. After acquiring Owen Yachts and Larson Boat Works, Brunswick quickly started immersing itself in the boating industry and never looked back. By turning Larson Boats into “Brunswick” boats, the company put itself deep waters of the watercraft industry. And this is where John Brunswick’s company evolves from a master wood-working company to the boating king.
After 1960, Brunswick Corporation continued to build its marine presence, and quickly. By 1986, Brunswick became “the undisputed global leader in recreational boating.” Although Brunswick Corporation has evolved significantly throughout its rich history, the company has always been and still remains a leader in its field.