Please contact us to edit or contribute to this page.
Sea Sprite Boat Co., Inc.
600 W. 10th Ave.
The Sea Sprite Boat Co. was a continuation of Speed Queen Boats. In the undated brochure below, the photo of the Catalina Cruiser model clearly shows a Speed Queen badge. This brochure may date to 1964 as an example of this exact model has been found titled as a 1964 model year.
History Thanks to Lee Wangstead
Glastex started building Speed Queen boats in Tinley Park, Illinois in 1953. In 1958, looking to expand, they moved to Monmouth, Illinois. The company was sold to Felt Enterprises in 1961 and around 1963 they changed the name of the boats to Sea Sprite. By 1967 there were differences between two factions of management with one group moving to Crescent City, Illinois and continuing the Sea Sprite line and the group staying in Monmouth building Sea Star Boats. Confusing? You bet, but not any more confusing than the rest of the industry at that time. The Sea Star boat plant closed in 1981 when the Felt's sold the boat building operation. In 1982 they were back at it again building Mach I boats, sold in 1991. In 1993 they formed Envision Boats, still in business today. That's about all I know about them, anyone else have more? I'd like to hear more about William J. Horvath, founder.
History by Andreas Jordahl Rhude
Sea Sprite was a marine dealer founded at North Webster, Indiana in 1962. In 1968 the company was purchased by Melvin Redeker who had been selling his "Bee Boat" fiberglass boats to Sea Sprite and Jayhawk. At that time he started making boats badged as "Sea Sprite" at Crescent City, IL.
They got overworked, so Sea Sprite had some of their molds moved to Monmouth, IL to be built there. In 1968 the owner of Sea Sprite was ready to retire. He sold the firm to Melvin Redeker. Redeker sold out his share in Bee, obtained space in Crescent City, IL, and started making Sea Sprite boats. The molds at Monmouth were retrieved. He grew the company to up to 120 employees making 13 boats per day. He had five tractor/trailer rigs hauling boats to dealers. Hannay's in Minneapolis was a major dealer. He sold the company in April 1984 to Robert F. Smith. Melvin Redeker, the seller, never got paid in full. The new owner sucked the life out of the firm. Banks seized assets. It was shut down. I drove past the old factory site. The remaining buildings have dozens of molds and partial boats sitting around them still today. A major fire destroyed most of the operation in 1990. Not sure when they stopped making boats. Smith purchased Sea Sprite Boat Co. at Crescent City, IL on Friday the 13th of April 1984.
Robert F. Smith later operated a company called "Classic Boats, Inc." in the 1970s at 1 Roselle Road, Roselle, IL 60172 in Chicagoland. He also owned Smith Marine at Berwyn and Sequoit Harbor Marina (boat dealerships). Earlier he and his father owned Dunphy Boat Corp. in Oshkosh and drove it into the ground. In 1984 he bought Sea Sprite Boat Co. of Crescent City, IL.
Smith eventually had his fingers in many other boat-building firms which he operated under the umbrella of United Marine Corporation, including Moomba, Skier's Choice, Sea Sprite, Sea Raider, Cheetah, Renken, and others. Mark Twain may have been one of them.
Smith filed for chapter XI bankruptcy on 25 April 2002 with $97 million in claims against him and his businesses!
Literature thanks to Andreas Jordahl Rhude
Possibly 1964 Brochure