Over the past 25 years, Abilene's economy has grown in diversity by leaps and bounds. What was once an oil/gas and military community is now home to more than ten other major industries. One of these industries is very uniquely represented by one company, Tigé Boats.
Pronounced, "Tye-guh," or as the company says, "when you buy one you can pronounce it however you would like," finds is beginning in 1991 in California, but in 1994 the company moved its headquarters and manufacturing facility to Abilene, Texas.
First located in a facility off Highway 83/277, Tigé opened its doors in Abilene with 35 employees. Just a few years later the company moved to another facility off Business Highway 80 where it grew its operations again and the number of employees rose to 80. In 2003, the company made plans to build a new facility on Highway 36, where the company resides today. This new plant is cited as "the world’s most advanced inboard manufacturing facility" in its 130,000 square-foot, three-building complex that was designed and built specifically for their state-of-the-art, high-quality inboard boat production.
The complex includes a product development and engineering facility dedicated to the creation of new Tigé boat designs and technology. The manufacturing facility includes innovative features and engineering designed to optimize the composite boat-building process, promote environmental responsibility and ensure absolute quality of the Tigé product.
Tigé builds each boat, by hand; yes, by hand. Using the most advanced tools and techniques, each boat is built in a three-stage process: 1) shell mold, 2) painting and 3) assembly. The process begins by blowing fiberglass into a mold as production linemen work the material to carefully craft an exact shell design for one of the ten available models.
Once the shell is constructed, the unit is moved into the second stage, the painting process. The shell is prepared with meticulous attention to detail. Every inch of the surface is worked until it is smooth as glass and then painted. Though the company offers a number of popular paint schemes, the color options are "infinite," according to the company, allowing the customer the opportunity to create their own look.
After painting, the boat is then moved to assembly where the engine, upholstery, instrumentation and remaining parts are put together. It this process, the heart of this machine is installed, Ford's all-new Indmar Raptor Series motor. This 6.2L V8 produces a whopping 411 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque, making the boat a high performance machine on the water.
One may be left to ask, "So what makes a Tigé boat special?" Unlike most high performance boats, Tigé built this impressive machine for wake boarding. Never heard of wake boarding? Wakeboarding is a surface water sport which involves riding a wakeboard over the surface of a body of water, in this case, wake produced by a boat.
The concept was designed as a way to provide an endless wake to surf on. Many companies have engineered a boat to accomplish this task. However, Tigé has engineered the best boat design for wake boarding. The company's patented AVX Surf System featuring Surf Link™ gives the surfer full wave control via a remote control.
This means the untethered surfer behind the boat can control the length, height and intensity of the wake being created by the boat with no intervention from the driver. This lets the driver focus on the boat and the surfer focus on surfing. It's this type of innovation combined with a truly stunning design that has catapulted the company into success over the past 25 years.
Throughout this time, the company has created a lot of buzz. In fact, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) has recognized Tigè 10 times with the prestigious CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index) Award. The Marine Industry CSI Awards program honors participating manufacturers that actively measure customer satisfaction and pursue continuous improvement to better serve the customer.
Award recipients achieved and maintained an independently-measured standard of excellence of 90 percent or higher in customer satisfaction over the past year, based on information provided by customers purchasing a new boat. That says a lot about the company's dedication to product quality and the Abilene workforce that helped it achieve such a long line of recognition.
It is estimated that the company generates $18.5 million in direct economic output each year. Spin-off businesses in the community will produce $8.7 million in economic output per year as a result of the local operations. In total, the company will support $27.2 million in economic output per year on average. Economic output is the value of goods and services produced in the economy and can be thought of as revenues for businesses.
With such an enormous contribution to the local economy, it's not hard to see why the company's presence in Abilene is highly valued and why we're happy to say their boats are, "Made in Abilene."