Deck it Out
Adding foam decking to your boat can provide several benefits, including improved safety, comfort, durability, and aesthetics. Here are the top reasons to get GatorStep decking in your boat:
- Safety: Skid-resistant decking helps to provide traction and prevent slips and falls on the deck of your boat. This is especially important in wet or rough conditions, where the deck can become slippery and dangerous.
- Comfort: Skid-resistant decking can also help to make your boat more comfortable by providing a more stable surface to walk on. This can help to reduce fatigue and make it more enjoyable to spend time on your boat.
- Durability: Skid-resistant decking is designed to be durable and resistant to wear and tear. It can help to prolong the lifespan of your deck and reduce the need for repairs or replacements.
- Aesthetics: GatorStep decking comes in a variety of textures, colors, and patterns which can enhance the overall appearance of your boat and give it a more finished and professional look.
- Value: Adding Skid-resistant decking to your boat can also increase its value and make it more desirable to buyers if you decide to sell.
- Reduced Maintenance: Skid-resistant decking is easy to clean and maintain, it is durable and can withstand a lot of use, which reduces the need for frequent repairs and replacements
- Convenience: Installing foam decking is a lot easier and more cost-effective than buying a new boat. Take another look at your beauty when she’s dressed and ready to impress.
- Styling: Anything and everything is possible with GatorStep designs. We can turn logos, pictures, and patterns into a bespoke, bow-to-stern designs that will leave your tongue wagging. To see a gallery of inspiring of projects, click here.
- Street Cred: Let’s face it – the first impression is the important one. Everyone will see and admire your beautiful deck from the moment they step onto the dock.
- Flexibility: GatorStep ensures all components are produced for ease of installation. All the parts and pieces will come out consistently, whether stock-produced or individually customized.
GatorStep skid-resistant decking is a worthwhile investment for any boat owner. To Set up a consultation for your boat, click here.
Bursting at the Seams
GatorStep LLC announced this Summer its groundbreaking plans to build a custom facility in Lenoir City, Tennessee. It is a big moment for the company, and traces dramatic business growth from modest beginnings in a modest facility in Canby, Oregon in 2014.
What began as a signage shop of 1,000 Square Feet, started by Loren Traister, now contends as a major OEM supplier and manufacturer of skid-resistant decking material, with unrivaled production timelines and capacity for bespoke installations.
In the beginning, Traister and his team worked with local marine manufacturers to produce decals for boats. One OEM client became dissatisfied with its decking provider and mentioned it to Traister. The team felt compelled to take up the challenge and a provide a solution. Just like that, GatorStep was founded, and its business grew with customer demand.
Soon it became clear that GatorStep needed to build a presence in East Tennessee, where myriad boat and trailer manufacturers stood to benefit from its mounting expertise in skid-resistant application. “There is a lot of boat-building knowledge in this part of the country,” says Jay Povlin, COO of GatorStep. “We draw from a unique pool here of skilled craftsmen who understand the machinery and technology of what they are operating.” GatorStep is in the process of relocating to the new facility in Lenoir City.
GatorStep’s retail activity has grown year over year since its inception, despite some recent downward trends in the post-pandemic marine market. Its OEM business is on a growth streak as well, because of its ability to grow dynamically with market demand and to accommodate production times for custom-made installations (or more simply put, ‘one-offs’). “We are uniquely able to add capacity and get new clients onboard along with new customers, thanks to production times that are half those of our competitors,” adds Jay.
The move to the new facility in Lenoir City, which has a footprint more than three times the current size, marks a significant achievement for GatorStep as an overall American success story.
GatorStep stands behind its belief that ‘One Size Does Not Fit All’, perfecting its production efficiencies and ability to deliver superior-quality product to any spec. Its steep growth trajectory is in part due to the customized efficiencies it has baked into its technologies, but also the deep investment into Research and Design, which the new facility will largely befit.
This means that new processes or designs can be tackled ever more efficiently in GatorStep’s timeline. “Everything that hits the production floor will be validated in a separate R & D area in our new facility,” adds Jay. Each project requiring validation is done in conjunction with the larger process, improving flow, output, and quality. “We are now able to look into automation and technologies that will further eliminate complexity, and ultimately timing,” he adds.
Along with efficiency and a tendency to say ‘yes’ to every new project, complicated or otherwise, GatorStep’s core differentiation lies in its unique quality control commitment to its dealer and customer networks. “We deliver a completed kit ourselves, so that dealers and customers don't have to rely on a third party to cut a sheet or be hamstrung by stock or color combinations. Once we have an art proof, the whole process may take four to six weeks at most, unlike with our competitors, who quote up to thirty weeks.”
The new facility will also allow for dealer training. “We will have a dedicated area for dealers to come in and see what we do, how we do it and how it benefits them,” adds Jay. The support and training that GatorStep enables is perhaps one of the best advantages of all. “We want our dealers to be proud they picked the best partner,” says Jay.
When it comes to an exciting success story in American business, GatorStep’s personal touch and customer focus are what put it over the top.
No Detail Too Small
GatorStep’s ability to customize its design process and to provide individualized, bespoke non-skid applications with efficiency is its core differentiator. Design is one of the most unique and fascinating parts of GatorStep manufacturing, and the whole process is completed entirely in its facility, from initial concept to final finish.
GatorStep’s skid resistant decking solutions have grown to an impressive lineup, spanning from on-board accessories to fully customized decking. Lately, GatorStep has employed new laser technology that enables unique, multi-faceted patterns, importing new landscapes and textures to invoke a cutting-edge look and feel.
“We have learned to express logos in a pattern-like manner, burning them into the material and engraving other layers that intertwine with to make a rich pattern,” says Charlie Finch, Lead Designer at GatorStep. “I haven't seen anyone else do it like this. We have mastered a “dual” design procedure in our decking and have a growing number of OEMs requesting it. It’s a distinctive technique that allows the artwork to repeat itself on the sheet. Then we cut the kit to create a cool overall design.”
Recent decked-out projects include a festive pontoon for the Margaritaville Resort; and a dual console festooned with beach illustrations of palm trees, surfboards, and flip flops in brown-and-tan contrast with a sand texture overlay.
GatorStep is uniquely able to produce these unique patterns in a short amount of time. As a result of its influx of talent and technology in Research and Design, and an upgrade to a larger facility, newly employed machines work quickly to experiment with and manufacture big concepts into final product. “We don't have to sit for hours waiting for a pattern to be produced or an idea played out,” Charlie adds. “We can let our imagination lead us to an outline, and final production happens in a matter of 10 to 15 minutes. Now we can fine-tune our process and not spend a week on something that really should only take a day.”
What may be next in the world of nonskid design and texture? GatorStep will be the first to explore this expanding frontier.
GatorStep Offers Unique Bonding Solution
Consumer preference has shifted away from snap-in carpet and traditional skid-resistant surfaces. Carpet is unmanageable, and let’s face it: stepping onto the plush deck of a clean, uniform cockpit is a better reward for the senses. That first embrace of a beautiful, soft GatorStep cockpit can be so gratifying. The rise in demand for this superior sensory experience – and for improved maintenance and cleanup efficiencies – make GatorStep decking an obvious choice for boaters. GatorStep goes beyond a fantastic first impression by ensuring satisfaction during installation and throughout the lifetime of its product.
How does GatorStep set itself apart from the competition? The answer is in its unique pressure-sensitive adhesive system. For a busy OEM with boats coming down the line, the adhesive benefits are game changing.
GatorStep’s interlocking, adhesive-backed EVA/PE sheets work together like giant puzzle pieces around the cockpit. In most applications, once the sheets are adhered to the deck, they cannot be moved. In a Gatorstep application, however, the interlocking pieces can be adjusted within thirty minutes before they bond. If any sheets are out of place, they can be peeled up and placed into alignment.
“Our workable adhesive is a huge bonus not only for manufacturers but also for overall consumer satisfaction with delivery,” says Jay Povlin, COO of GatorStep. “We have total confidence that our product will pose no challenge during assembly. Not having to stop the line, peel up and destroy a misplaced part, or wait for a new part to come in, is a unique advantage that only GatorStep can ensure.”
With its specialized adhesive, GatorStep won’t recede or leave a shrink line around the boat when they bond. Other manufacturers adhesion methods can break down when the foam material contracts in cold weather. This will leave behind a ring of glue behind – an unwelcome circumstance for any boat.
GatorStep’s lasting quality and flexible installation aren’t its only differentiators. GatorStep uses high quality EVA/PE foam, not an EAP foam blend or filler. This top-quality raw material resists weathering, shock, vibration, swelling and shrinkage over time. GatorStep uses a CNC milling process and powerful lasers to execute multilayered, highly detailed designs with a consistent look. Finer details, such as beveled or chamfer edging (as opposed to vertical), lend longevity and a lustrous look and feel. From complex, one-off projects to large-scale output, GatorStep designs are unwavering in depth and quality. Read more about GatorStep’s design process in our next article.
Ultimately, everything boils down to ease of use and product satisfaction. “That repositionability during the initial install is a unique differentiator,” adds Jay. “Even a totally inexperienced end user can confidently install our sheets and not worry about messing up.” Just like that special something in its adhesive, GatorStep’s life-lasting bond with its OEM partners and customers prove out over time.
About GatorStep LLC
Since 2014, GatorStep has been an innovative skid-resistant decking provider, offering flexible solutions for OEM and retail customers alike. GatorStep provides unique, adaptive application and collaborative design advantages, prioritizing fluidity in its manufacturing process to achieve lasting results. Based in Knoxville, TN, GatorStep distributes its USA-made products to clients internationally.
Key Differentiators Set GatorStep Apart from The Competition
It is said that you are only as strong as your weakest link. For a boat builder, that means your suppliers better be strong up and down the chain. There are many competitors in skid-resistant decking who profess various benefits. What are the advantages of an OEM working with
Flexibility is a primary one. If an OEM partner wants to change design, scale, or volume, GatorStep is set up to quickly support it. When a model lineup needs a fresh look in the middle
of a model year, for instance, GatorStep allows it to happen seamlessly. GatorStep’s ability to ‘shift and move’ is a core feature of its operations, and it will always have supplies and staff
necessary to react to spontaneous conditions.
Fast turnaround is another GatorStep advantage. An OEM can expect to have its productshipped in two weeks, in most cases. “We really, really try to keep lean manufacturing practices
in place to give customers what they want, when they want it,” says Mike Weatherly, General Manager of GatorStep. Reacting to short lead times is how the company has gotten to where it
is today, growing from humble origins in Hubbard, Oregon, to a major all-hands-on-deck operation in facilities across the USA.
GatorStep leaves room in is production line to accommodate complicated one-offs or resubmitted designs. “We don’t tell our customers ‘Oh, you’ve got to put in a P.O. and wait six
to eight weeks,’" adds Mike. “Things happen. If a new design needs to be on boat leaving tomorrow, we will do everything in our power to enable that.”
GatorStep stays quick on its feet, reworking processes to allow fluidity in its manufacturing. It uses custom tooling to accommodate many circumstances and tries not to focus on one
singular process or routine. The GatorStep staff is as ample as any large-scale manufacturer’s, with designers and producers on hand to absorb shifts in scale and volume to equally highquality results. The whole process is engaging. Innovative ideas come through so frequently that the staff stays on its toes in anticipation of the next, invigorating project.
Accountability with a personal touch is also a GatorStep advantage. “We consider our OEM customers to be truly in partnership with us,” says Mike. “We want to help you build your best
boat, and we will do everything we can to make sure that your final product is better than either of us could have imagined.”
Gatorstep’s nonacceptance of a “One Size Fits All” philosophy truly sets it apart. It might sound inconceivable, but the company would rather invest in a partner and ensure their product to be
the best it can be.
A good partner has your back and is reflexive to your business needs. That is the GatorStep difference.
GatorStep Offers Flexibility Using A Unique Design Process
One of the most unique and fascinating parts of Gatorstep’s production is the design process. In most cases, its designs are conceived are produced entirely in house. Whether the initial concept is submitted by a customer or evolves from a knee-jerk request “Hey, can you make something cool?”, GatorStep’s team is able to execute and deliver a richly composed, multifaceted design to perfection.
Apart from having top-of-the-line equipment on hand to design a kit from bow to stern, GatorStep designers run an intuitive process, managing expectations and outcomes efficiently and directly with each individual client. “Most of the time, new clients won’t have a specific request, and we will need to identify an emotion or idea to get an original concept”, says Charlie Finch, GatorStep Designer. “It always starts with the boat. We try to identify what is unique to the boat’s integrity, absorbing its style and characteristics. We ask clients what kind of colors they're looking for, if they have a name for the boat, and hone a familiar feeling before we add any complexity.”
The first step in the process period is to confirm measurements. The customer can use a mylar template kit, lay it down on the deck, and outline all the applicable areas. The customer, or their chosen dealer, can also provide their measurements by photographing targets placed in the boat. More than likely, however, GatorStep will already have a pre-measured pattern on hand, or something quite near to it, for an accurate outline. Customers simply identify the boat model, colors, texture and graphics, and the nonskid deck can be custom-made without need for a stencil.
From there, a 3D reference is generated to create a template that will be sent as a test fit. An art proof will be generated for the customer’s approval. Textures colors and graphics are discussed further, and the design team will consult each customer on his or her preference for complexity, dimension, and finish. Graphics and shapes can be fitted with the interlocking pieces of decking, and multi-layered colors and textures applied in selected areas. “We sometimes get really nice, ‘showboat’ jobs where we can come up with some really cool stuff,” adds Charlie. “We can dial it up, dial it down, come up with something that's incredibly unique and that taps into our creative roots, or be as simple and straightforward as the customer wants.”
Once the design is finalized, multiple sets of directions are given to a team that will assemble layers of material, cure, and glue sheets together, and commence the top-layer engraving process with a specialized CNC machine. Graphics and logos can be added by laser. Afterward, the whole project is cut and edged into interlocking pieces. A quality control team inspects the final product for quality and accuracy.
Gatorstep designers get orders from customers and companies all over the world. “I love when I get to see an installation here in our facility in Knoxville. It really satisfying to see a cool design go from start to finish,” says Charlie.
That feeling of stepping on board the boat that is uniquely YOURS is undeniable. And it is the best feeling for GatorStep, too. Going from initial concept to fantastic final finish is a mutually exciting process, and satisfaction all around is the guarantee.