Howard Root, a retired Minnesota med-tech executive who started a company to build electric-powered pontoon boats, said he has sold that firm, Elux Marine, to Pure Watercraft, an electric-boating technology leader based in Seattle.
Root and his partner, Bart Jones, a boat restorer and builder based west of Lake Minnetonka, developed a couple of electronic-pontoon lines that created small waves of interest.
Even as it was producing its first sales last year, Root indicated that the company, based in Mayer, likely would have to merge into a larger one to achieve larger-scale sales.
"Our mission at Elux was to build a small, but focused, electric-boat manufacturer that would redefine the Minnesota pontoon experience," Root said in an interview. "In 2020, we sold 10 'Stealth' and 'Breeze' boats and 25 of the smaller [single-seat] 'Go-Floats' for a little over $500,000.
"We saw the potential of electric boating. But we needed to scale. Last summer, we field-tested Pure's proprietary electric outboard technology and concluded that Pure Watercraft is the company to lead the recreational electric boat revolution. Bart and I are thrilled to join forces with Pure to bring large-scale, high-performance electric boating to [Midwest] waters."
He and Jones sold for an unspecified amount of stock in Pure. Root said they become "small, minority shareholders" in the Seattle firm, which has other venture capital shareholders.
Elux's several employees, not including Root, will remain to focus exclusively on the launch of Pure Watercraft's electric boats in the Upper Midwest.
The Breeze and Stealth models were among the few recreational electric-boat lines made in America. And Minnesota is the nation's largest per capita boating market, Pure said. Minnesotans spent $924 million on boats in 2019, a number that has risen consistently in recent years.
"By acquiring Elux, we connect to a key boating market with a team that has established itself as a leader in launching electric boats," said Andy Rebele, Pure's chief executive.
In December, Pure closed on $37.5 million round of equity led by L37, a venture capitalist.
Pure's first product is an electric outboard motor system with the propulsion equivalent of up to 50 horsepower gas outboards. It uses a proprietary, lithium-ion battery pack that is thermally-managed for high performance and long life, the company said. Pure said the battery pack has the most energy for its weight of any battery pack in marine and, by that measure, it was about the same as that in Tesla's Model 3 car.
Root, a veteran corporate lawyer and CEO who led Vascular Solutions to a $1 billion sale in 2016, is a lifelong boater who lives near Lake Minnetonka.
Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144