New business generates buzz

Mark Cairns relaxes in his CraigCat watercraft this August on the Mississippi. The Hokah businessman sells them out of a showroom in La Crosse and offers test rides out of Brownsville. ~ Lauren Perry

Mark Cairns relaxes in his CraigCat watercraft this August on the Mississippi. The Hokah businessman sells them out of a showroom in La Crosse and offers test rides out of Brownsville.
~ Lauren Perry

By Lauren Perry

Caledonia Argus

 

Tucked in a small cove between the Minnesota and Wisconsin border, cameras are flashing and people pointing in awe. The cause of their amusement? A small watercraft that appears to be a speedboat, pontoon and jet ski all wrapped into one. This small vessel is mounted on two pontoons, shaded by a canopy and provides two seats for ultimate fun.

Salesman Mark Cairns has become used to the pointing and staring, he said. While riding on the jam packed river over the weekends, “I’ll give 10 to 20 rides because people haven’t seen a boat like this.”

The CraigCat’s simple winterizing combined with its fuel efficiency are reasons Cairns can see it becoming a boat of the future. “I could run all day on $11 or $12 of gas, and it’s not big, so it doesn’t take much to store it.”

Cairns jumped into the world of CraigCat in April after selling off his business seven years ago. “I’ve always wanted to do something on the river, and when I got out of construction, I wanted to do something a little more fun.”

“The CraigCat comes in three models, with the Key West being the most popular,” Cairns said. No matter your preference, you can be sure that CraigCat will have something to tickle your fancy, priced anywhere from $8,600 to $14,300.

The Basic is available in blue and white, and the Key West in yellow and camouflage. Both boats share the same features, although the Key West comes equipped with a stereo. The most elaborate Catch-It-Boat also includes a GPS, trolling motor, fish monitor and extra storage.

Although these Orlando-manufactured boats have been wildly popular over the summer, Cairns has only sold three. “I expected to sell five or six the first year, but with the floods, and the weather being the way that it has been, we did pretty well.”

With the plan to stick with it for five years and see how it goes, Cairns has made several steps to ensure people know about the watercraft.

“We may look into rentals next year, we’ll be in the boat show in La Crosse in February and we spend a lot of time giving rides on weekends.”

When Cairns isn’t at the Lawrence Lake Marina in Brownsville, the Hokah native can be found at his show office in La Crosse, although appointments are, for the most part, available by request, at 507-429-3636. “Give me a call if you’re interested in a ride. Even if you don’t want to buy one, we’ll still give you a ride for no cost,” Cairns said.

 

up arrow