The History of T-H Marine
T-H Marine has been serving the recreational boating industry since 1975. During this 39 years, T-H Marine has been a true innovator and leader in designing and manufacturing the highest quality boat parts and accessories. T-H Marine has grown from a three person company, manufacturing a few parts, to a 200+ employee conglomerate of three companies, manufacturing thousands of different products.
Following is a brief history of T-H Marine, including some of the many innovations and firsts we have achieved:
T-H Marine Historical Happenings
First Trim Handle
T-H Marine was founded in April of 1975. Three partners, including Bill Huntley, had developed a product they felt could have great market potential in the recreational boating industry. The product was a Trim Handle switch, which put the outboard engine trim control on the throttle handle for the first time - a huge innovation in boating safety. In honor of that first product, the Trim Handle, they named the company T-H Marine. At this time, Bill Huntley's other company, Bumble Bee Bait Company, was going strong, selling the top spinner bait in the country. If they had patented the Trim Handle, they would have retired quickly from the royalties every outboard manufacturer would have paid them for every motor built when the throttle arm trim switch became standard equipment.
First Trim on Wheel & First Trolling Motor Foot Switch
T-H continued making innovations in trim control and push button switch usage on boats. They introduced the first ever "trim on the wheel" product, which put the trim control switches on the steering wheel. This was a major innovation for boating safety and handling. They also introduced the first ever foot control switch for trolling motors. Before this, all actuation of trolling motors was done by the hand reaching to the trolling motor head. This innovation was the first step toward completely foot controlled trolling motors that are commonplace today.
First Foot Throttle for Boats
T-H Marine introduces the HOT FOOT™ foot throttle, the first commercially available foot throttle for boats. This was a major innovation to improve the safety and performance of boats - especially bass boats. The HOT FOOT™ allows people to drive a boat like they do their car and it also returns the engine to idle if the foot is removed. It is a standard product on most bass boats today and the original HOT FOOT™ continues to be the market standard. T-H Marine has received countless letters over the years thanking us for providing a product that saved someone's life. The HOT FOOT™ launch was T-H Marine's first step into cast aluminum product production.
Our First Catalog
T-H Marine expanded its offering of cast aluminum products to include other outboard performance products, such as transom wedges. T-H Marine published it's first real "catalog", which contained 15 products.
New 10,000 Square Foot Manufacturing Facility
T-H Marine's success and growth of product line required more space than the rental property it occupied, so T-H Marine purchased land and built a 10,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Madison, Alabama. T-H Marine was right in the thick of the Bass Fishing explosion that happened in the late 1970's and early 1980's. The HOT FOOT™ and various trim switches were critical components of that development in bass boats, from being just fishing boats to being high performance boats that were a mix of a fishing platform and a racing boat.
First Commercial Jack Plate
T-H Marine has two major innovations that forever changed bass boats. First, T-H Marine introduced the HI-JACKER™ transom jack plate and it became the first commercially available, off-the-shelf jack plate. Before this, jack plates were custom made frames, made in machine shops, that racing boats had used. T-H Marine adapted that concept, designed a universal jack plate, and offered it to the boating public. This was the birth of the jack plate market. The jack plate allows the outboard to be moved back and up from transom so that the prop runs in cleaner water, allowing the boat to run faster and handle better. The HI-JACKER™ brand is still alive and well 30+ years later, although it has seen many innovations and changes as the outboard engines have evolved.
T-H Marine introduced the first ever remote livewell drain valve, allowing a boater to activate a valve with a control cable to open or close the drain of a livewell or baitwell. This innovation is commonplace today, but initially it was a very big deal to be able to drain a live well without sticking your arm down into the water to pull a plug.
T-H Marine continued its focus on boating safety. We introduced a standalone, ignition "kill switch" to shut off engine if driver was thrown from drivers seat, another innovation that is now standard equipment on most bass boats.
First Aerator Filter
T-H Marine started using it's expertise on bass boating and fishing to focus on improved conservation of bass being caught by developing two items for the livewell system, both of which can be found on every fishing boat today. The first filter to mount on an aerator pump was introduced to insure flow of fresh water to livewells and baitwells. Also, an aerator head was introduced to increase the oxygenation of the water being pumped into the livewell.
Injection Molded Plastic Innovation
T-H Marine recognized the many opportunities for injection molded plastics that were not being met in the boating industry. We introduced many new products in that niche, including our first marine plumbing fittings, floor drains, fishing rod holders, and more variations of aerator heads for livewells.
First Mini Jack Plate
T-H Marine introduced the first ever jack plate for small outboards, the MINI-JACKER™, to give smaller boats the advantages of jack plate performance. We also introduced the first foot operated trim switch, the HOT TRIM™, providing another safety feature to allow boaters to keep both hands on the wheel when driving at higher speeds. We also introduced the first hatch spring for boats to hold lids and hatches open.
Bill Huntley sold his successful fishing lure manufacturing company, Bumble Bee Baits, to a large fishing conglomerate, to focus on the rapidly expanding boat accessories business.
First Boat Battery Tray
T-H Marine introduced one of the first boat battery trays, a major advantage and convenience over the standard battery boxes of the time - another innovation that is standard on most boats today. We also introduced the first air bubbling aeration system for livewells and baitwells - the PRO-AIR™ system - to further improve conservation of fish.
First SS Aerator Screen
T-H Marine developed the first stainless steel wire mesh strainer to screw onto aerator pump intakes. This livewell innovation is now universally found on almost every fishing boat.
First Strap Battery Tray
T-H Marine introduced the first every battery tray with a strap to secure the battery, instead of metal rods. This tray received a U.S. patent and changed battery trays from then on. T-H Marine has dominated the battery tray market since this innovation was introduced 20+ years ago.
T-H Marine developed and received a U.S. Patent for an improved motorwell cable boat, that was an injection molded vinyl with an integrated cable tie to cinch the rigging. This cable boot was a major improvement to the unattractive rubber cable boots that rotted away in the sun. This cable boot quickly became the industry standard and remains so to this day.
Our third major introduction was the first standpipe overflow drain tube for livewells. Taking the idea from the way a commode operates, this development allowed much simpler plumbing of a livewell and is used on the majority of fishing boats built today.
U.S. Patent for New Type of Drain Control Valve
T-H Marine received a U.S. Patent for and introduced a new type of remote drain control valve for livewells and baitwells. We also introduced the first remote livewell diverter valve for boats, allowing two functions, such as fill / recirculate, recirculate / pumpout. T-H Marine valves were the market leaders throughout the 90's.
Lid Latch Leader
T-H Marine received another U.S. Patent for our Steer-N-Trim™ system, which integrated the wires for steering wheel mounted trim switches into the helm of the steering column. This major innovation dominated the trim switch market on mechanical steering systems until they were replaced with hydraulics.
T-H expanded it's focus to start manufacturing products for the pontoon boat market, including gate latches and door stops. We also expanded into latches/locks for boat lids, where we became market share leaders for many years.
First Molded Drain Plug
T-H Marine expanded its manufacturing space by 20,000 feet to meet the needs of our major growth. We also introduced the first injection molded, self-retaining transom drain plug for boats, which became an industry staple and market share leader.
First 90 Degree Fixed Head
Jeff Huntley executes leveraged buyout of Bill Huntley's partners, making T-H Marine a single family owned company.
T-H Marine recognized there was no single company in the industry that offered a full array of plastic thru-hull fittings truly suited for marine hose, instead builders had to source from multiple companies to find all the fittings they needed and many did not properly fit marine hose. Therefore, T-H Marine worked with marine hose manufacturers to develop an industry standard line of molded plumbing fittings. This line included straight and 90 degree fittings in all popular marine hose sizes. We also developed the first ever 90 degree fittings with a finished head, utilizing a nut that passed over the barbs and around the 90 degree elbow. This design has been duplicated by many other people now, but T-H Marine still maintains a dominate market share position in molded thru-hull fittings and provide more fittings to more boat builders than any other manufacturer.
First Molded Prop Wrench
Greg Buie became OEM Sales Manager and Zack McLanahan was hired as Aftermarket Sales Manager. This new sales management team began aggressive efforts to grow T-H Marine market share. T-H Marine began offering its products for export thru Brunger Export company, allowing boaters around the world to find our product line.
T-H Marine continued to introduce many new and innovative products. We entered the lighting market with new, inexpensive courtesy lights, developed new styles of rod holding straps, and vastly expanded our plastic products footprint to include molded splash well drain tubes, many different drain and plumbing fittings, the first ever directional flow livewell aerator, and the first injection molded prop wrench - the Prop Master™.
Jack Plate Innovation
T-H Marine introduced several more products that were industry firsts. The Max-Air™ venturi livewell aerator was the first air-injection venturi fitting to improve oxygenation of livewells. Many competitors have since added venturi systems to meet the standard set by T-H Marine. We also introduced the Anchor Master™ anchor retrieval system, which was developed from seeing charter captains using such a device, then introducing the first complete anchor retriever system made commercially available.
T-H Marine expanded its jack plate offerings by introducing a single adjusting bolt, one-piece jack plate, called the PRO HI-JACKER™, which became the dominate manual jack plate on the market and remained so for the next decade.
T-H Marine wins National Marine Distributors Association Supplier of the Year Runner Up Award.
New T-H Headquarters
T-H Marine relocated to a new headquarters at Finney Drive in Huntsville, Alabama - expanding it's manufacturing footprint by another 35,000 square feet. T-H Marine received a U.S. Patent on an improved HOT FOOT™ throttle with integrated idle limiter.
New Hatch Design
T-H Marine introduced and received a patent on a new, space-saving, narrow battery tray design to continue its dominance in battery trays. We also expanded our lighting offerings to include waterproof courtesy and livewell lighting and trailer backing lights. We also developed the first boat cooler mounting kit to keep coolers in place, this innovative design has since been copied by many suppliers.
T-H Marine hired Bill Applegate, industry veteran with great expertise in hatches and deck plates, and entered the hatch and deck plate market.
T-H Marine wins National Marine Distributors Association Supplier of the Year Runner Up Award.
To increase our injection molding capacity and capabilities, T-H Marine acquired Innovative Plastics in October of 1999. This acquisition provided immediate growth and diversification into the custom injection molding market in several different industries.
The Sure-Seal™ line of deck plates and access hatches were rapidly accepted by the market to propel us to a major player position in both of these niches.
T-H Marine wins UMMA Supplier of the Year Award.
First Rod Organizers
T-H Marine expanded its manual jack plate offering to maintain its market leader position by introducing the Pro HI-HACKER™ HP, to handle the demands of larger and heavier outboards.
T-H Marine began pioneering a new market niche for customized rod storage tube systems for boat compartments, which have been adopted throughout the industry.
First Chrome Plastic Fitting
T-H Marine introduced the first chrome plated plastic thru-hulls, offering boat builders an economical alternative to stainless or brass fitting, without losing the expensive look.
T-H Marine wins National Marine Manufacturers Association MAATS Innovation Award.
T-H Marine Awards
T-H Marine wins Tracker Boats Supplier of the Year Award.
T-H Marine's President, Jeff Huntley, awarded National Marine Manufacturers Association's Robert Hammond Leadership Award for his leadership contributions to the industry.
Hydraulic Jack Plate Entry
T-H Marine completed an headquarters expansion to 75,000 square feet, bringing total manufacturing footprint to over 105,000 square feet. We introduced our first hydraulic jack plate - the Hydro Jacker™ to leverage and compliment its popular manual jack plate line. We also introduced and received a U.S. Patent on a new pontoon gate latch system to meet new ABYC requirements.
More T-H Marine Awards
T-H Marine wins Stratos/Champion Supplier Innovation Award.
T-H Marine wins Ranger Boats Supplier of the Year Award.
First Oxygen Concentrator
T-H Marine introduced a high speed hydraulic jack plate, a new electronic HOT FOOT™, and expanded our lighting products to include LED courtesy and livewell lights.
T-H Marine launched the first oxygen concentrator generator for boat livewell systems, adapting medical oxygen generator technology to provide super oxygenated water for baitwells and livewells.
T-H Marine wins Stratos/Champion Supplier Special Recognition Award.T-H Marine wins Independent Boat Builders Inc. Suppler Excellence Award.
T-H Marine's President, Jeff Huntley, wins Special Recognition Award for serving as first Chairman of MAATS Show from 2001-2005.
New Hatch Design
T-H Marine offered a complete new line of access hatches, named Designer Series™ Hatches, allowing us to gain market share in this highly competitive niche.
T-H Marine wins National Marine Distributors Association Supplier of the Year Award, Category Two.
ATLAS Hydralic Plate
T-H Marine introduced the ATLAS™ hydraulic jack plate, the first completely new and unique design in hydraulic jack plates in over a decade. Within 3 years of product launch, the ATLAS™ became the market share leader in hydraulic jack plates, being installed by more OEM boat builders and used by more professional fishermen than any other hydraulic jack plate.
In March of 2008, we formed CMC Marine and purchased the assets of Cook Manufacturing Corporation in Duncan, Oklahoma. Cook was one of only three major players in the hydraulic jack plate market and they held a very large market share. Cook also was the #1 market leader in hydraulic Tilt & Trim units. This acquisition placed T-H Marine as the clear leader and largest manufacturer of manual jack plates, hydraulic jack plates, and hydraulic tilt & trims in the world.
We also acquired the assets of Integrated Power Technologies, a strong performing contract manufacturer in Huntsville, Alabama, providing our plastics subsidiary further diversification into the electronics, medical, and office furniture industries.
T-H Marine wins National Marine Distributors Association Supplier of the Year Gold Winner Award.
Manual Jack Innovation
T-H Marine introduced a major innovation in the manual jack plate market with our new Z-LOCK™ manual jack plate to expand and modernize our HI-JACKER™ series of plates.
Like the rest of the industry, T-H Marine experienced painful changes to survive the downturn of the "Great Recession". T-H Marine right sized for the market, began cutting costs and reducing inventories. T-H Marine's moves to efficiency allowed us to survive and remain profitable thru the worst of the recession.
First Micro Hydraulic Plate
T-H Marine expanded our ATLAS™ hydraulic jack plate line by offering the new ATLAS Micro Jacker™, providing the lightest weight jack plate for small flats boats, skiffs, and duck hunting boats.
We also introduced an innovative boat alarm, the TWO WAY ALARM™, the most cost efficient and easy to install boat alarm on the market.
Atlas Hydralic Jacking Plate
T-H Marine's ATLAS™ hydraulic jack plate became the market share leader in the hydraulic jack plate market - being chosen and installed by almost every OEM boatbuilder installing hydraulic jack plates and being used by more professional fishermen than all other brands combined.
By being selected by Ranger® Boats as the only hydraulic jack plate they would install, by being installed by all major bass boat brands and saltwater brands, and by being used by the vast majority of professional bass fishermen in the BASSMASTER and FLW tournament series, the ATLAS™ hydraulic jack plate gained major acclaim. By the 2014 BASSMASTER Classic, ATLAS plates were on 91% of the boats with hydraulic jack plates!
First LED Value Line
T-H Marine launched a complete redesign of our website www.thmarine.com , and fully entered the social media arena on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. We hired Jeffery Huntley, Jr., the third generation of the Huntley family to be involved at T-H Marine, to be internet marketing manager to expand our web and social presence.
T-H Marine recognized a lack of choices for high quality, value priced LED lighting. We introduced a full line of value priced LED lights, including courtesy lights, cabin lights, livewell lights, companion way lights, underwater lights, and spreader lights. This line of LEDs represents the broadest line and best value of any other LED light supplier.
Gerald "G-Man" Swindle
T-H Marine continues to come expand their aftermarket accessories offerings, releasing the G-Force™ line of accessories featuring the G-Force Handle™, a solution to the age-old problem of broken trolling motor ropes. B.A.S.S. Elite Series pro Gerald "G-Man" Swindle comes on board to be the official spokesman of the G-Force™ line.
O2 Marine and Loc-R-Bar
T-H Marine makes a big splash yet again in the aftermarket accessories division, purchasing the assets of O2 Marine Technologies, makers of The Oxygenator™ as well as the popular U2 Pro Formula livewell additive. T-H Marine renames U2 Pro Formula as G-Juice™, adding yet another quality product to the G-Force™ line of products.
T-H Marine also acquires the Loc-R-Bar™ Alarm System, adding an already established product to a growing line of boat security options offered by T-H Marine.
The Future of T-H Marine
39 years serving and loving the industry .... to be continued!