R&D creates a new form of boating docks…

Forest Lake-based R&D Manufacturing Inc. has made a name for itself in Minnesota and Wisconsin for its easy-to-install, lightweight V-Dock boating docks and accessories. R&D manufacturing sells an average of three miles of decking per year, the equivalent of 15,840 feet. Docks made by the company, which employs only six people, range from 32 to 300 feet.

The company’s Roll-in and Roll-n-Float portable docks allow consumers to roll docks into the water ‘as is,’ with no further assembly other than connecting the self-locking pieces together using a steel pins. If water levels rise or fall, the dock can be raised or lowered by using a cordless drill or a handle provided by R&D Manufacturing.

Most docks on the market require owners to remove decking tiles before rolling it into or out of the water. Simplifying the installation process has led to R&D Manufacturing’s growing popularity.

Three years ago, the company ramped up its online marketing and expanded its consumer base by shipping its portable docks to other destinations in the U.S. Some of their most recent shipments went to Texas and Alaska. The move has resulted in two consecutive record years for the company.

In 2016, the company saw sales growth of 35 percent, marking the company’s most profitable year, said co-owner Rick Johnson. All docks are sold and shipped directly to customers.

The company was founded in 1982 by Johnson’s father, Dick Johnson, who wanted to create a more sturdy and easy-to-install boating dock for Minnesotans. A trained welder, Johnson created his own brand of docks using V-shaped beams located under the dock for better support and to better absorb impact and movement. Johnson designed his own tools and machinery to make the docks and in 1982 started R&D Manufacturing. The company has since produced five patented designs.

“The customers we get are not first-time home buyers,” Johnson said. “The kids are out of the house. They need a simple way of installing the dock. They don’t want to go in the water to put posts in. They want to put it in and out.”

To find out more about R&D or to determine whether you may be eligible for an R&D Tax Credit  Contact a Swanson Reed specialist to see if you qualify.

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