Malibu Boats LLC, which is headquartered in Loudon, Tennessee, is a United States manufacturer of recreational towboats, founded in 1982.
In 1982, a group of six friends who shared a common passion for waterskiing decided to start building custom ski boats in a small shop in Merced, California. Robert Alkema founded the organization and chose the brand name of Malibu Boats. He was just young enough to not believe in obstacles. During the first year of operation, Malibu only built two boats per week using a single-hull design and each boat, with its blended gel coat design had that California flare.
Under Alkema’s conservative mantra, the tuck and roll upholstery reflected his persistent perfectionism. Each employee believed that distinction was in the details and he let them prove their point. Malibu was a company open to fresh ideas.
By 1984, Malibu had repaid its initial loan and was building over 400 boats a year. Financially conservative, Alkema had directed the company to turn a profit in just over two years.
Debt-free, Malibu was well positioned to work outside the limitations of the industry. An upstart company, not bound by tradition, it was not necessary to copy others. Malibu made a point of adding special finishing touches to our boats that tradition-bound companies wouldn’t consider.
By 1988, with a nine percent share of the market, the California plant was at full
production. To satisfy increased demand, the company opened a second plant in
Tennessee. By the end of the year, Malibu had built almost 1,000 custom ski boats and had been awarded our first Product Excellence Award for Value by Powerboat Magazine.
With the 1990 purchase of Australian Flightcraft, Malibu secured its global reach. These were the premier barefoot boats of the decade. By the end of 1992, Malibu had built a new production facility in Loudon, Tennessee to accommodate the increased demand east of the Mississippi. Malibu became the first to use
computers in our initial boat design. The Echelon featured the first on-board
computer system, dubbed “Computron” which included the first and only LED graphic speed control. We removed all wood from the construction, and introduced the new, patented, Fiberglass Engine Chassis System (FibECS) which eliminated vibration and noise associated with the drivetrain.
By 1995 Malibu was confidently throwing out terms like “ergonomics” to describe the principles behind design considerations.
Watersports had evolved by the end of the ‘90’s. Like snow skiing, water skiing
had been transformed by a board. Wakeboarding was hot, and Malibu was right
there with the WAKESETTER to accommodate the trend. Malibu engineers analyzed the needs of the popular sport and developed a unique, and safe, solution – The Wedge. No ballast tanks were necessary to create a good, rampy wake and there was interior room for a lot of friends.
In 1999, The Malibu Open water ski championships were started and quickly became a premiere event for three-event skiing. It has historically produced the highest cuts in the sport. This event has gone on to host six new world records.
Malibu entered the new century as a clearly dominant company. Malibu engineers let their imaginations turn to the high-end market. The result was the Escape Series — a completely different concept they called the luxury Sport V. The V-drive, positioned in the rear of the hull, eliminated bow rise associated with traditional I/O design and had no lower unit to interfere with handling.
The Malibu Just Ride wakeboard series kicked off in the US in 2001 with its casual exhibition style, which respected the progressive, freeriding side of wakeboarding. This was also the first wakeboard-specific series that did not include water skiing. The Just Ride series is still going strong in Australia today.
With a look all to itself and a core group of top pro athletes, Malibu really started to come into it’s own. Dallas Friday became wakeboarding’s winningest female rider, by wining four X Games gold medals and winning basically every pro contest she entered. Brian Grubb popularized wakeskating and Phil Soven became a wakeboarding phenom, going on a hot streak that was comparable, if not more impressive than Darin Shapiro’s run in the 1990’s.
Slalom skiers Will Asher, Thomas Degasperi and Regina Jaquess signed onto the team and proved their dominance. Will went on to win WATERSKI Magazine’s “Skier Of The Year,” Thomas became a multiple-time World Champion and worldwide celebrity and Regina broke multiple world records.
In the early years of the 21st century Malibu continued its growth path. Fueled by some of the best innovations in the industry along with unprecedented growth in the towboat segment, Malibu built more boats every year and assumed the #1 market share position from 2004 through 2008.
In 2006, Black Canyon Capital, as the primary investor, acquired Malibu Boats. Their forward thinking and strategic outlook pushed Malibu to new heights with new product introduction, improvement activities and innovations being at the forefront.
Late in the 2008 model year and throughout the 2009 and 2010 model years, Malibu, like everyone in the marine industry, experienced a massive downturn. In the entire industry, companies came to realize the ways of the past would no longer work. It was a different world. Dominance was no longer the objective; survival was the objective for many marine companies.
In June 2009, Jack Springer became CEO of Malibu Boats. He had previous experience in the marine industry, but also an immense amount of leadership experience in other industries, along with well-rounded expertise in every facet of a business.
Since 2009, we have undergone substantial changes including a new brand launch called Axis Wake Research, and new innovations such as the Malibu Touch Screen, G-3 Tower, keyless ignition and now SURF GATE. In addition, new boat introduction has accelerated and with the introduction of the MXZ series of luxury pickle fork boats, a new ski boat called the TXi, which has already set many records, an expansion of models within the Axis brand and a newly redesigned VTX crossover boat, among other boat introductions, Malibu is pushing the limits of providing boats for every activity desired on the water.
In the last three years, we have cultivated and expanded our dealer base to the largest and best of anyone in our segment. We have committed to being focused, having discipline in every area and holding ourselves and all of our partners accountable.
Malibu is now the worldwide leader in towboat sports and commands a widening market share of almost one-third of the market, with domestic market share growth of nearly seven (7%) percent in the last three years.
In 2012, Malibu sponsored wakeboarding’s biggest event to date, the Red Bull Wake Open. Tens of thousands of fans flocked to downtown Tampa, Florida for the three categories of competition and the event aired for two hours live on NBC Saturday afternoon as part of the Red Bull Signature Series. Never before had the brand seen such a spike in exposure, awareness and online interaction.
Also in 2012, Malibu launched SURF GATE, a new innovation that allows for an evenly weighted boat to produce a long, clean wave, with the ability to switch sides on the fly or even quickly switch between wakeboarding and wakesurfing and back.
Looking into the future, the company has committed to continuous improvement and unyielding innovation. The towed-watersports environment has never been more fun and Malibu Boats is committed to making that experience even better.
SELECTED PRODUCT TIMELINE | MODEL YEAR PRODUCTION
The very first Malibu boat hits the water in California.
The “Malibu Skier” became a successful model, but it would take years until Malibu would be recognized as a legitimate competitor and innovator in the segment.
Malibu Sunsetter open bow introduced.
Malibu opens second Manufacturing facility in Tennessee. Taking a cue from European car designs, the company introduced the enormously popular Malibu Euro-f3 Series ski boats.
A new, patented swivel head ski pylon was introduced to extend rope life and increase skier safety. Flightcraft Barefooter outboard named towboat of Barefoot Worlds.
Malibu Echelon named Powerboat Magazine “Boat Of The Year.” A new, Fiberglass Engine Chassis System (FibECS) was introduced, eliminating vibration and noise associated with the drivetrain. Also, the Monsoon engine was released with electronic fuel injection.
Malibu opens third manufacturing facility in Australia.
RESPONSE Series wins “Boat Of The Year”
First Malibu Sport V-drive introduced in the SUNSETTER VLX. Malibu also offered its first hard-bound keepsake catalog, which set the standard for coffee-table-style publications from the brand.
Malibu unveiled one of its most creative projects to date, the Corvette Limited Edition Ski Boat.
The Wedge hydrofoil technology was introduced to help create a better wake without adding ballast to the boat. Corvette limited edition boat released and wins GM’s “Outstanding Innovation” award.
Malibu’s forward-sweeping Illusion tower also debuted, giving the WAKESETTER series a much more contemporary look. Then, in 2002, the WAKESETTER XTi won “Towboat Of The Year.”
MSCAN, Malibu’s speed control and navigational system incorporates speed control, GPS, depth and air/water temp.
The WAKESETTER Series is expanded to feature five different models. CNC machined propellers become standard, eliminating the inconsistency of previous casted props. Meanwhile, the WAKESETTER XTi wins “Towboat Of The Year.”
MP3 plug-in changes the way everyone listens to music on the boat. Drivers seat improves with lumbar support and seat heater.
Quad, hard tank ballast is introduced, eliminating the use of ballast sacks.
2006 brought a big innovation to The Wedge, with the Power Wedge. This electronic hydrofoil allowed the driver to fine tune the wake to the rider’s preference.
To fill a demand for a budget-friendly boat with all the performance essentials, Axis Wake Research is born.
MaliView is introduced which included dozens of digital controls integrated to the dashboard including rider presets for speed, ballast and power wedge settings. The first Axis model, the A 22 is introduced to the market.
The G3 tower, Malibu’s own design is manufactured and introduced. Malibu is the only manufacturer in our segment that manufactures its own tower, increasing value and reducing cost. Malibu presets are offered.
The A 20, the second Axis model is designed and offered to customers. The new TXi ski boat is brought to market and pulls the Malibu Open.
Malibu’s first pickle fork bow design is released in the WAKESETTER 22 MXZ. Clean lines and increased bow space proved to be valuable to the customer. Malibu scores a position as official towboat of the Red Bull Wake Open, the biggest event in the history of wakeboarding. The RESPONSE TXi was released at the Malibu Open and Regina Jaquess set three new world records shortly after.
The redesigned WAKESETTER 20 VTX is introduced in August at the Malibu Open. SURF GATE is released to the public and changes the activity of wakesurfing forever. Malibu celebrates its 30th Anniversary with three special edition anniversary boats comprising three decades of our sport with the TXi special edition representing ski, the Wakesetter 23 LSV representing wakeboarding and the Wakesetter 20 VTX representing wakesurfing.