FROM PAYING TRIBUTE TO CREATING TODAY'S FINEST CENTER CONSOLE TRIBUTE CONTINUES TO BUILD THE BEST IN CUSTOM FISH BOATS
RICH SCHEFFER SR.
Rich Scheffer, Sr. founder of Tribute Boats, has saltwater in his blood. Tracing back to his great grandparents in Germany, his family grew up in boats, fishing and learning boat construction. As his father and uncle ran charter boats, Scheffer became a self-proclaimed "water rat", hanging around marinas and boat yards, absorbing all the information he could. He did small jobs for boatyards which turned into full-time gigs and eventually, Scheffer built his own commercial fishing boat then found other people wanted one too. A small start to a bigger plan.
ENTER JIM SMITH
When the warmth and boating industry of Florida called, Scheffer answered, taking a job with Stuart Yacht Builders in 1980. Soon after, he met Jim Smith, the legendary tournament sportfish pioneer, and his life was forever changed by the iconic entrepreneur. Scheffer was impressed not just by Smith's 6th sense for engines and boat building, but by his work ethic and vision.
Scheffer became the lead builder for Jim Smith and helped create some of the fastest and most advanced sport fishers of the decade. When Smith died, Scheffer decided to open his own boat building company and in honor of his mentor and long-time friend, he named it "Tribute"-a tribute to Jim Smith and the other masters of the trade who mentored and inspired Scheffer and his contemporaries.
IN TRIBUTE - THE NEXT CHAPTER
Among his first customers were race car industry pioneers, Hank Manley and Dick Moroso who had been like a son to Jim Smith. These two clients certainly had the need for speed and Scheffer created performance sport fish boats that handled like race cars, satisfying these most discerning customers. Performance, Palm Beach quality, longevity and engineering became the brand features of Tribute Boats and many were built over 70' while maintaining previously uncharted speeds at 40+ knots. The goal for Tribute Boats was always to travel extensively, stay on the troll and follow the fish without concern for cutting the trip short for service.
After 25 years of building boats with his son Rich, Jr., and grandsons, Tristen and Grant now joining the family business, John Gazza solidified the business further, adding his vision and passion for boats and taking boat building to the next level.
Tribute’s “evolution” continues as it follows the latest trends in boating and fishing— and the domination of the center console with high-powered engines. These boats use much of the same engineering as the bigger sportfish boats, but with specific changes in materials, running lines and changes in center of gravity to balance the larger outboard engines.
The patented bottom became even more influential in the design and performance of the most recent models as newer materials made building lighter and stronger possible. A return to traditional sportfish heritage with a performance bent is another trend on the move and Tribute Boats will continue to take the lead in that category in the coming years.
“The real changes in boat building have evolved from technological advances,” says Scheffer, Sr., “We’ve run the whole gamut, from plank on frame wood boats that were built for centuries, to cold-molded plywood and epoxy, to true space age composites. Highly engineered boats with resin infusion are exceptionally strong and light. It is amazing how rock-solid our boats are and how much the boat can take—they are like Lear Jets! They are not going to rot or delaminate—my great grandchildren will be able to use the boats we are building now!”