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About boat maker Marcel LaFond

Marcel LaFond, owner of Symphony Boat Co., takes his Overture model boat for a test run near the Spirit Lake Marina recently. (Bob King /

Marcel LaFond grew up on a lake in central Minnesota, west of St. Cloud. That’s where his fascination for boats began. But it wasn’t until a stint at the revered Landing School in Maine that he got serious about the business.

“That was the beginning,” he said. “I’ve spent many years since then trying to put something together.”

The result is the Symphony Boat Co., which he started four years ago while working at fuselage engineering at Cirrus Design in Duluth.

“The people at Cirrus will tell you,” he said. “All I talked about were boats.”

It makes sense, he said, since much of the terminology for planes has been borrowed from boat making.

LaFond worked at several boat and yacht companies before landing in Duluth. He has provided engineering support to Great Lakes lakers, as well as advice on U.S. Coast Guard vessel maintenance and drydocking.

LaFond has also sailed in the Chicago to Mackinac Island race and the Trans-Superior, a run between Sault Ste. Marie and Duluth.

Symphony has examples of two models out on local water, the Overture and Elektra. Each features simple wooden interiors that make them stand out from any model of boat out there. They include bamboo from Vietnam and mahogany from Africa.

The 20-foot Elektra is powered by an electric motor and operates through propulsion. Symphony will offer a variety of propulsion systems depending on what the customer is comfortable with.

“They are quiet, there is no noise,” Symphony writes in its promotion for the boat. “Those days of expensive fill-ups at the marina are over.”

The Overture is your more standard hull boat, but LaFond is quick to point out that the aluminum skins are bonded and not riveted. He gets precision shapes by using the latest computer design and cutting techniques, he said. That saves on costs. The Overtures will sell in the upper $20,000 range. An Elektra will start at about $35,000, LaFond said.