About Us



In 1966, MAKO® boats launched a groundbreaking new product—a rugged, roomy and very seaworthy center-console 19-foot bay boat that would change the saltwater sportfishing industry forever. The boat was revealed at the 1967 Miami Boat Show, and it was so well received that 400 orders were taken—almost unheard of even today at a boat show. 

MAKO boats quickly garnered a reputation as overbuilt, hardcore fishing machines built to take you to the fish even in adverse conditions—and that would keep you, your crew and your family safe while doing so. MAKO owners became more and more devoted as the years passed, and owner Funaments popped up in Florida, the Gulf and along the Atlantic seaboard as a way for enthusiasts to gather, fish, socialize and tell tall tales.

Over five decades later, now under the leadership of Johnny Morris and White River Marine Group®, the devout following of MAKO owners is more numerous and vibrant than ever. In the tradition of our founding, we continue to build boats stronger than they have to be. It is with a passionate spirit of innovation that we continue to develop new technologies and techniques that will make your inshore and offshore experiences unforgettable.

In the late 1960s, MAKO Boats, a new concept of rugged center-console saltwater boats, was born. At the same time, a young Johnny Morris was just about to graduate college in Springfield, Missouri—and his first B.A.S.S. Tournament was just around the corner. And an idea was beginning to form in his mind, too. One that would lead to Bass Pro Shops® and White River Marine Group (WMRG).

Fast forward 30 years, and the destinies of these great companies converged—MAKO had become one of the most respected names in saltwater, and Bass Pro Shops was on the way to becoming one of the largest outdoor sporting goods companies in the world. WRMG acquired MAKO in 1996. The combined might of these two brands assured that MAKO offshore and inshore boats would become better than ever.

Today, WRMG is the largest boat builder in the world by volume. And as a member of this great family, MAKO is able to integrate decades of legendary saltwater performance, along with its own legendary boat-building heritage, into every model.

When you join the MAKO family, you become part of a group of fiercely loyal anglers that know the durability and fishability that these boats offer. And you’ll begin to feel peace of mind knowing that a stable industry leader with over 200 dealers and service centers across North America backs you through every adventure.

The Legacy Behind the Name

MAKO Marine, Inc., was founded by Robert Schwebke (pronounced “Shwebkey”) in 1967. Although Schwebke was a surveyor by trade, his inability to find an affordable boat that offered a safe and functional fishing platform led to his developing the first MAKO boats.

Schwebke had a firm understanding that anglers desired a means to access offshore fisheries without having to make the investment in large, expensive offshore sportfishing boats. To this end, he began building boats for his friends—what were then considered “vest-pocket sportfishing boats.” They had much of the same functionality and capability of larger vessels, but offered the flexibility, versatility and economy of a boat for the “everyman.”

As the story goes, Schwebke was out fishing one day on a friend’s large sport fishing boat when a small mako shark was caught and promptly put into the well. Shortly thereafter, it jumped from the well and began biting chunks from the teak deck and whatever else it could sink its teeth into. After several moments of mayhem, it jumped overboard and swam away. Schwebke was amazed by how tough the mako shark was, and an iconic brand was born. He eventually took his MAKO boat to a show and wrote a few hundred orders. Robert Schwebke was officially in the boat business.

Johnny Morris

Robert Schwebke

Officially in Business

The initial models that “put MAKO on the map” were the center console series consisting of the MAKO 17, 19 and 22. The MAKO 17 was an iconic model that defined the brand and remained in production for 40 years—from 1969 to 2009. It is arguably one of the most popular and storied 17-foot boats ever produced.

The original MAKO manufacturing facility was located in Hialeah, Florida, until 1972, when it relocated to a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Opa Locka, Florida. This facility became home to the MAKO brand and is commonly referred to as the “Miami” plant. MAKO Marine would remain a family owned business under the direction of Robert Schwebke until June of 1994.

In August of 1992, Hurricane Andrew hit the MAKO manufacturing facility and production was halted for six months before eventually resuming. Although back in business, the insurance claim associated with the hurricane was denied by the carrier, leading to difficult years ahead. In an effort to keep MAKO a “family controlled business” and infuse operating capital into the company, MAKO Marine, Inc., partnered with CreditAmerica Venture Capital (CAVC) and went public on  August 2, 1994, as MAKO Marine International, Inc. MAKO Marine International, Inc., now a publicly owned corporation, continued to produce boats at the Miami, Florida, facility. Then, on January 16, 1997,  MAKO Marine became part of Tracker Marine Group (now known as White River Marine Group).

The current MAKO boats continue to share in the legacy of the early Schwebke MAKO models, while also integrating the quality outdoor heritage of Bass Pro Shops and White River Marine Group. The brand still commands respect among saltwater anglers, both for its current lineup and the legends of old (particularly those built from 1967 through 1989). Whether today’s current product or the legendary boats of yesterday, the MAKO name is synonymous with rugged, durable construction and unmatched angling utility and seaworthiness.

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