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Titusville’s Raider Outboards expanding as major supplier of boat motors to military

From a building hidden away in a Titusville industrial park, Raider Outboards Inc. has become a leading supplier of marine motors for the U.S. military and some of its allies.

After one of Raider’s major competitors, Evinrude, left the military outboard market in 2020, Raider has stepped up to fill the gap, and now has more than 1,600 motors in the field for the U.S. military branches and other government agencies.

Raider is planning a major expansion at its complex at Brevard County’s Spaceport Commerce Park in Titusville, building a 20,000-square-foot, $2 million facility, matching its current 20,000-square-foot plant.

Raider Outboards Inc. at the Spaceport Commerce Park in Titusville is expanding. The company makes military-grade, submersible, lightweight, multifuel outboard motors for the U.S. military and its allies, U.S. government agencies and first responders.

The North Brevard Economic Development Zone board of directors voted unanimously to support selling 5 acres of land in the Spaceport Commerce Park to Raider for $225,000 — $45,000 an acre — to facilitate the expansion.

After the expansion is complete, Raider’s staff will double from the current 25 to 50, according to the company’s president, George Woodruff.

“The company is going through some rapid growth right now,” said Troy Post, executive director of the North Brevard Economic Development Zone.

An analysis by the Economic Development Commission of Florida Space Coast found that the addition of 25 jobs at Raider would create 18 spinoff jobs. The 43 total jobs would generate an annual payroll of $1.94 million and an annual economic impact of $3.40 million to the local economy.

Customized for military use

Raider currently modifies Japanese-made Tohatsu commercial, off-the-shelf outboards for military applications.

But Raider plans to build its own outboards in the future at its Titusville complex. It plans to build three types of outboards, with production expected to begin in 2024. That includes a 65-horsepower electric/fossil fuel hybrid outboard that be used in shallow waters where mines may be present.

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Among the features making Raider’s customized outboards attractive to the military — including special operations forces — are their ability to be dropped into the water from an aircraft; operate under the surface of the water; and use multiple types of fuels, including gas, diesel, jet propellent and kerosene.

From left, Raider Outboards Inc. President George Woodruff, Vice President of Engineering Chris Woodruff and Director of Operations Matt Sester, with a row of outboard motors ready for final assembly.

Raider refers to these features as helping customer in completing “mission-essential tasks.”

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Matt Sester, the company’s operations manager, said Raider makes as many as 125 modifications to customize the Tohatsu motors, in such areas as enabling them to run on multiple fuels, the electrical components, a dewatering system for when the motors becomes submerged, corrosion control, system hardening and transportability.

Sester said the ability for the motors to use multiple fuels is crucial.

“When you need to get out and pull people off the roofs of their houses in a hurricane, and all you got is kerosene, our motor will get you out there,” Sester said.

‘Huge growth uptrend’

Raider’s customers include all branches of the U.S. military, as well as various federal agencies, such as the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and NASA.

A Raider Outboards Model 50 was used in this military "over-the-beach exercise."

The company also is in the process of selling motors to military branches in Austria, Canada, Colombia, Germany, the Netherlands and the Ukraine.

And it is anticipating a growing market for its motors for law enforcement and emergency medical services agencies.

“We are projecting a huge growth uptrend with Raider,” Sester said.

After selling 365 units in 2021, said Raider is projecting sales of 476 units in 2022, 649 in 2023, 744 in 2024, 794 in 2025, and 804 in 2026.

Of the projected sales of 3,467 units from 2022 through 2026, 2,055 will be to the U.S. military; 600 to other government agencies; 452 to foreign military; and 360 to law enforcement and emergency medical services.

“Their growth curve seems to be outstanding…astronomical,” said Al Matroni, an NBEDZ board member, who is a former real estate developer of retail and commercial properties.

The U.S. Navy's Special Boat Team 20 uses the  Raider Model 40 in this capability exercise.

Matroni said the NBEDZ board should do everything it can to support the company. Otherwise, he said, the company might look to a different site for future expansions.

Raider was established in 2015 as a small business specializing in building outboards for the U.S. military, with its first sale to Air Force Special Forces. In 2019, the company expanded operations to supply its products to NATO countries, with an initial sale to the Netherlands.

Woodruff said the company took its name from the Marine Corps Raiders, who were known for taking rubber boats behind enemy lines during World War II.

Raider this fall became the newest participant in Port Canaveral’s Foreign Trade Zone No.136.

Woodruff said, as a member of the zone, Raider will be able to bypass some U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulatory hurdles that delay the export of its modified motors to foreign military forces. 

“As a foreign trade zone operator, we anticipate our international business will experience increased growth opportunities,” Woodruff said.

Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Murray said, by joining the foreign trade zone, Raider, like other companies in the zone, gains “a competitive advantage in the global marketplace.”

“Raider Outboards is a small-business success story with a bright future, which translates into success for our entire region,” Murray said.

Raider Outboards Inc.'s current plant is in the Spaceport Commerce Park, at 1885 Armstrong Drive, Titusville.

Raider also is working with U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, on efforts to help reduce the red tape involved with the sale of engines to federal, state or local law enforcement, disaster relief, search and rescue, or emergency medical services agencies. Posey has sponsored the First Responders’ Equipment Access Act, which would allow for a national security exemption for such sales.

Woodruff said, when the expansion is completed, the company’s current facility at 1885 Armstrong Drive would be used to manufacture outboard motors. The new building would be used as an “integration site” to add special features to them to prepare them for use by the military, government agencies and first responders.

New product development

Raider also is working on marketing various new products, including a “safety jet” that would be used in place of a traditional prop jet, and can be used on motors made by Raider and by other manufacturers. The safety jet would help prevent injuries from contact with the engine during underwater rescues, and also would help protect manatees and other marine life from injury.

Other products and accessories Raider is marketing are work carts; engine stands; two-stroke oil; and support packages for ease of use, maintenance, stowage and transportation of it motors.

Raider also now is making many motor parts at its Titusville complex, as a way to bypass supply-chain delays. The parts include crankshafts, cylinder heads, gaskets, handles, pistons and starter pulleys.

Raider is among a growing boating industry in northern Brevard County, and Post noted that the company is helping diversify the local economy beyond aerospace.

“It’s very promising,” NBEDZ board member Louis Sanders, a Titusville restaurant owner, said, in commenting on Raider’s expansion plans. “I’d like to see us do all we can do to make this happen.”

Woodruff said he had been approached by officials in Sarasota with an offer to consider expanding there, but chose to stay in Titusville. That’s where the family-owned company was founded — and where Woodruff’s son is vice president of engineering and two of his grandsons also work. 

“We’re just humbled by our success,” Woodruff said.

Article first appeared on Florida Today

Michael Lynch
Author: Michael Lynch

Raised on the Space Coast, I want to keep North Brevard informed of what's happening. Send Tips / Story Ideas to TitusvilleMedia@gmail.com

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