From Classic Boat Library
DuraCraft Boats, Inc.
In the latter part of 1945, Bill and Chick Ward created the first welded seam aluminum jon boat. This first Ward Brothers aluminum boat was patterned similar to the flat bottom cypress wood boat of that period. However, the Wards saw the advantage of more rake at the bow and more flair on the sides. After testing this aluminum Jon boat, they realized it was much easier to paddle -- and, more responsive with a outboard motor. Also, they found it much easier to load, unload, and pull up the banks of the river. The name Dura Craft was decided upon; and, an industry was born.
During the early fifties, the Ward Brothers designed a stretch press with forming dies that produced a line of Runabout boats. These Runabouts featured a flared bow and clean streamlined appearances that, as the expression goes, would "turn on a dime."
After many successful years of working closely together, Bill and Chick Ward decided to retire so they could have more leisure time to enjoy using some of the many boats they had created. Bill and Chick turned the management of the company over to Chick's son, Kim Ward.
During the second Ward generation, headed by Kim Ward, the company expanded sales through diversification. Commercial catfish farms were just getting started. Kim Ward's company produced transport tanks and hatching vats for this growing industry.
In the 1970's, the Wards' were awarded a contract from the U. S. Coast Guard to produce a large number of patrol boats. This entry into commercial boats extended to many diesel powered survey and crew boats -- up to 45 feet in length. One 98 foot pleasure catamaran styled personal craft was built and launched in the Arkansas River at Pine Bluff.
Ray Scott came to Monticello and helped Kim Ward design an aluminum bass boat for the Bass Angler Sportsman Society. The Bass Champ Boats, rigged with a 35 horsepower outboard, were used in championship tournaments when Bill Dance, Roland Martin, and many other professional fishermen competed. Rick Clunn won the first event; and, Larry Nixon won his first BASS Angler Tournament in a Ward built boat.
Over the next few years, the third generation of Wards began learning the family business. John, Roger, and Mike Ward were all employed in the family business, working in various areas of the company. The company founded by Chick and Bill Ward was sold in December 1983, about the time that large outboard motor manufacturers entered into boat building.
The third generation of Ward boat builders are John, Roger, and Mike. All three brothers have worked in the marine field -- in retail operations, as motor and boat manufacturers, and distributing marine accessories. Their diverse experience in the marine industry, and prior boat building experience provided a strong foundation for the Team Ward - War Eagle Boat operation.
Team Ward was incorporated in 1990 by founder Mike Ward. The company originally produced fish hauling equipment and did other custom work. Mike Ward, Founder and President of Team Ward, excels in design of product. "When I started War Eagle," says Mike, "I knew a small, independent boat manufacturer had to offer something different. When I designed and tested the 'Wings' transom, I knew that it added strength and performance to an aluminum boat. At that point, I knew I had something original to offer the boating public."
The first War Eagle Boat was built in 1992 … and the company has been growing ever since. "In the marine industry, the Wards have always been innovators by original designs," states Mike. "As a member of the third generation of the Ward Family building boats, our goal is to continue the tradition of innovative design and quality construction we have come to be known for. We are challenged by tradition to be creative. New hull and transom designs show we continue to think about improving our product.
"It is more than the product that has made us a success. It's people who care about the end results. Our people put their hearts into helping build the best boat in the country."
John Ward, National Marketing Director, enjoys talking with dealers, consumers, and the media. "I spend a great deal of time providing information over the phone to many people. My job includes overseeing advertising promotions, boat shows, and closely working with War Eagle dealers and our sales force. I believe accurate information, service and quality products are the basis of a successful business."
Roger Ward has a great deal of diverse marine experience. From retail dealerships to working for two of the largest marine builders in America, Roger has gained much insight in marine business.
"The Ward Family," states Roger, "has been building, what we believe to be, the highest quality aluminum boats on the market for over 50 years. Along with dedicated employees and state of the art equipment, we will continue to strive to build a boat that will give you many years of boating pleasure. Building fine boats is our family's tradition, and we want to keep that tradition strong."
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