Innovator: Wylie Nagler
In 1998, when Wylie Nagler sold Back Country Powerboats, a Sarasota company that manufactured shallow-water boats up to 20 feet in length, he signed a non-compete clause with his buyer. “The natural progression, then,” says Nagler, “was bigger boats for offshore fishing.” He founded Yellowfin Yachts, LLC, which released its first model in 2000. Now based in Manatee County, the 110-employee company sells nearly 150 boats every year, ranging in price from $35,000 to $500,000. Its global customers include professional athletes and—get this—the Emir of Qatar, who owns 14 of them.
“All boats ride nice when it’s flat,” says Nagler, 45, “but the performance and rough water capabilities are what make our boats stand apart.” Rather than building as many boats as possible for as little money as possible, Nagler strives to build the best boats. “It’s not always about money,” he says. “It’s about the passion of building something better than everybody else.” Nagler and his team are working on designs for a new line of boats they plan to unveil at upcoming boat shows in South Florida. “We try to keep our brand fresh and not get complacent just because we stay busy,” says Nagler.