A Leap Of Faith
Founding Ski Nautique
Walt C. Meloon moved his wife Marion and three sons, Walter, Ralph and Harold to Central Florida in 1924 to take advantage of the Florida real-estate boom and they brought their strong Christian values with them. Known as “W.C.”, Walt C. Meloon was intrigued by all the lakes in Central Florida and saw an opportunity. W.C. formed the Florida Variety Boat Company “To build boats for the glory of God.”
The company changed its name to Correct Craft in 1936 after W.C. heard a radio ad for shoes with “the correct heel for your feet.” Using the play on words, Correct Craft began to advertise as “the correct craft for you.”
During World War II, Correct Craft along with several other boat builders were contracted to build boats to serve as pontoons for bridges to carry troops and armaments across rivers. The government wanted these manufacturers to work 7-days a week including Sunday. Correct Craft was tasked with building 400 boats in 15 days - a seemingly impossible task. Correct Craft was one of the few companies to meet its obligation and they did it without working on Sundays. National Geographic dubbed the record production as “A Miracle Production” solidifying their reputation for having a faith culture.
In 1957, Leo Bentz built the first Ski Nautique in South Florida using fiberglass. He offered to sell the plugs and mold to Correct Craft. However, W.C. did not want to build fiberglass boats, stating that he has never seen a “fiberglass tree.” Leo returned to Central Florida in 1961 to make another offer. In return for a boat and three years of maintenance he would sell his brand and the tooling for Ski Nautique. Correct Craft accepted the offer and became the first manufacturer to integrate tracking fins in a production boat. And the rest, as they say, “is history.”
Today there is a huge surge of interest in wake surfing. Recently, Correct Craft introduced the Nautique Surf System. The system creates a shaped face that is easily carve-able and can be switched from one side to the other almost instantly.
Now celebrating its 90th year as a boat builder and 55 years producing Ski Nautiques, Correct Craft still carries it faith culture. Bill Yeargin, Correct Craft’s current President and CEO encourages employees to serve the needy in their Central Florida Communities and the underprivileged abroad with company-sponsored support.
In 2014, Nautique employees served in El Salvador as a way to give back. During the week they did construction work and served students at a rural school in the mountains, served in a hospital and passed out food provided by Nautique to needy families. The team worked really hard but at the same time it was an amazing experience of which they were all thrilled to play a part. And, just to add a little excitement, they were even awoken one night with their beds shaking – they experienced an earthquake!
There were many impactful experiences for the team during the week in El Salvador. Working with school children in the mountains was an opportunity to provide help and hope to some kids who they quickly grew to love. Distributing food to hundreds of hungry families and getting hugs from the people who were beyond grateful for the rice, beans, dried fruit and cooking oil that was distributed was an opportunity to live out the values of Nautique in a way that was really helping people who needed it. The work in the hospital resulted in the team meeting a young lady who was literally waiting to die because she could not afford the operation she needed after losing her unborn baby. Nautique paid for that operation and then saw her two days later. Her appreciation alone made the entire trip worthwhile.
There are many needs in El Salvador and it was encouraging to see Nautique employees work so hard to help. They especially enjoyed the opportunity to meet and serve the people there. They hope that their efforts made the lives of those they helped a little easier.
Helping people around the world is not new to the Nautique team. Over the past seven years the team has traveled all over the globe serving those who need help. They have built homes, worked in schools, served in orphanages, distributed food and helped fight human trafficking. Nautique is determined to use their resources to make the world a better place.This service is part of the Nautique Cares initiative and is a big part of the culture at Nautique. They want to build the world’s best boats but they also want to serve and help those who need it.