Boat Building in Tea South Dakota
Here’s a boat story, that actually starts in Chamberlain, South Dakota.
Kelly and Pam Cawthorne have owned several house boats over the years. The two would make the two hour drive to Chamberlain where they would take the the mighty Missouri for a little rest and relaxation away from the heating and air conditioning business.
The first houseboat they bought was a Gibson Houseboat. If you do a little checking you’ll see that Gibson Houseboats were made in Portland, Tennesee.
While the Cawthorne’s enjoyed their boat they got to know the people at the factory. Long story short, the opportunity came up, he decided to buy the company and move it to South Dakota.
According to Houseboat Magazine:
The Cawthornes are in the process of relocating all the molds, tools, parts and manufacturing equipment from the Portland, Tenn., plant to Tea, S.D., where Gibson Boats S.D. LLC will be based.
“We’re going to offer a full production line, but mainly focus on service, fiberglass repair and refurbishing,” said Kelly. “We’ve refurbished houseboats prior to this so that’s what we really want to establish as we get started.”
Now, there’s actually more to the story than that, but I’ll leave that to you to discuss with Kelly or his son Shane. Today, they’re busy putting the finishing touches on a 14′ by 50′ Gibson, the boat featured in the picture.
When finished, it’s going to be one of those multi level, kids can dive off, mom can use the bathroom, grandma can take a shower, grandpa can snooze in air conditioned comfort, jet ski tying to, Billy who’s home for the summer can wash his clothes on, and dry them and, you could fish off it too boats. The boat we looked at had finishing touches being made for showing to potential buyers at Lake Okoboji around the Fourth of July.
The neat thing about it is they’re building them under our noses right here in South Dakota. The molds are here. They’ve already sprayed and assembled two more, soon to be pleasure crafts.
Kelly’s son Shane said, you could buy a plain old boring pontoon, but we will be offering so much more, it’s pontoon, on steroids. It’s the equivalent of a pontoon, with a shower, and sleeping quarters, washer and dryer full kitchen and more. You can be up on top, diving off into the water from nearly 10 feet, sunning on the deck or taking a snooze on the couch watching the game in air conditioned comfort.
If you love the water, and the outdoors you owe it to yourself and your family to keep your eyes open. Maybe when you’re at the river or the lake this year you’ll see a Gibson Houseboat. When you do, you’ll know that they are being made in South Dakota now.
Subscribe to KMXC-FM / Mix 97-3 on