Made in Wisconsin: Iola Company Manufactures Airboats Used in Ice Rescues

Local News

When an ice fishing trip takes a dangerous turn, like the shifting sheet of ice that stranded 14 people on the Bay of Green Bay last December, airboats are deployed to save the stranded.

Airboats like the ones manufactured in Iola by 1000 Island Airboats, a company formerly based in Canada, before its purchase a year and a half ago.

“We heard about these boats and what a great product they were,” Fawn Rogers, President of 1000 Island Airboats told Local 5. “So we bought the company and moved it here to Wisconsin.”

Moving a company from Canada to the States presents a few challenges, including finding new suppliers to manufacture the boats.

“Bringing the process back to the United States…didn’t only include building the boats,” Ryan Rogers, who manages Product Development for the company said. “getting the products that go into the boats resourced from the United States.”

Those right parts create the fiberglass bottom boats that glide on water or ice, which is an essential feature for ice rescues.

“Ice gets thinner the closer you get to open water,” Sgt. Phil Nelson of the Brown County Sheriff’s Office told Local 5. “So if you’re going to try to use a regular boat that can only travel in the water, you have to get close, and you risk the people trying to get into the boat then going into the water.”

John Johnson, owner of Recon Boats helps build the airboats.

“It’s nice to know it has a purpose other than pleasure,” he said. “It’s basically a water-ice ambulance, so it gets out there where other people can’t.”

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