In late 2016, CEO Howard Root decided he was done running a medical products company.
He and his board sold Vascular Solutions, the public company Root had started and led for 20 years, for about $1 billion.
Root, 58, had been acquitted earlier in 2016 by a federal jury in Texas that found Root and Vascular were not guilty of federal charges of unauthorized use of a Vascular Solutions product.
“I feel vindicated, but outraged by the obscene legal process that I had to endure and the public trashing that my company had to take,” Root said at the time.
Root, a lawyer by training, also wrote a book about the five-year legal fight called “Cardiac Arrest.”
Root, who sold 650-employee Vascular at a premium to larger Teleflex, had assumed that he would work until 65 in the medical products business.
“I went through that trial and I didn’t want to run a [publicly held medical-device company] anymore,” Root recalled last week. “I was too young to stay home. I wasn’t wired to play golf all day. I did charitable things and worked on criminal justice reform and educational things.”
Root, a Lake Minnetonka resident, whose stake in Vascular Solutions was valued at about $40 million, also decided to pursue a recreational interest.
He started a boat company that debuted this weekend at the Minneapolis Boat Show.
In 2006, Root had a 31-foot Sea Ray Amberjack restored at the Carver County shop of Bart Jones, who became a friend.
Meanwhile, Jones was tinkering with creating a battery-powered boat, which became his two-person, electric Go-Float sun loungers.
By 2013, Jones was designing an electric-powered pontoon that had a sleeker look than a typical pontoon.
Jones and Root in 2016 bought a 1980 Harris FloteBote pontoon and started tinkering.
They replaced the outboard motor with a lithium battery and pack, electric motor and custom-designed prop and shaft.
“We puttered around the lake,” Root recalled. “We [achieved] a top speed of 12 to 14 miles per hour and a run time of up to 10 hours on a single charge. I thought, ‘that works.’
“We also wanted to make it better looking. We went with fiberglass instead of aluminum. That gives us the ability to make it look more like an Italian cruising boat.
“There are no gas or oil emissions — no smell, quiet cruising. It’s like flipping a light switch. Trouble free, environmentally friendly.”
The fledgling company, Elux Marine, only has the capacity to build several boats this year.
It’s a high-end, luxury line. “We’re not trying to make this into the next big boat company,” said Root, who declined to quantify his investment in the company.
If all goes well, Elux will have to move assembly from the Watertown-Mayer shop to a bigger facility.
The fiberglass hulls and customized trailers also are made by Minnesota manufacturers. The 72-volt, 420-amp lithium battery pack and electric motor are made in China.
The Elux 24-foot pontoon seats up to 12 and will sell for $85,000.
Pontoons generally range from 16 to 27 feet, and the average boat sells for about $25,500, according to the website of manufacturer Manitou Pontoon. A no-frills, small boat of 16 to 19 feet can cost under $15,000 and higher-end boats run closer to $50,000. A top-of-the line pontoon can cost $200,000, according to Manitou.
The Elux, which has LED lighting and slide-out cabinets for coolers, trash and recycling storage, also features a shade to protect against sun and rain, and a hand-held vacuum cleaner.
Jones, the boat designer and manufacturing boss, said he wanted a pontoon that looked fast and sleek.
“The first step was to integrate the pontoons into the hull, and the final result is the Elux,’’ Jones said in a statement last week. “A boat that meets the pontoon cruising needs for Minnesota lakes with a design that uses clean, simple lines to make a bold statement.”