The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

January 18, 2014

Clinton company builds boats for 'Duck Dynasty' star

By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer

CLINTON — One local company is starting to feel the spotlight of celebrity, although it never had any intention of doing so.

The Phowler Boat Company in Clinton has been building custom designed water fowl boats since 2005, and in December employees were offered a chance of a lifetime — to build two boats for Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson.

"We're very flattered that we're going to be able to have Phil running our boats and we'll definitely get some promotional value out of it. But that really wasn't our number one goal," Phowler Boat Company owner Paul Willging said. "Our number one goal was to build a boat for Phil, the way he wanted, in a way that he'll use it and want to continue to use it."

Through a connection between Phowler's go-to motor company, Copper Head Manufacturing in Louisiana, Willging was contacted by Robertson's team about the possible business venture.

Once in contact, Robertson requested the small, locally owned duck boat company to build him two custom Phowler boats to his exact specifications.

And when Willging delivered those boats on Jan. 9, only three weeks after the initial contact to Robertson's famous house in West Monroe, La., the boats and their new owner did not disappoint.

"We got it pretty close to his specifications," Willging said. "I believe his exact words were, 'Now, that's a duck hunting boat.'"

Upon the delivery of the boats, Willging and his guest were able to spend a few hours visiting with the Robertson family, including Duck Dynasty icon Uncle Si and the matriarch of the family, Miss Kay.

"It was a really neat to actually go to their home and sit down and have coffee right at the dining room table that you see on Duck Dynasty," Willging said. "Probably the neatest experience, beyond them running our boats, was, in my opinion, they are exactly as you would imagine them to be. From the minute we shook hands, it was like we'd known them all our lives."

With the construction and delivery of the two custom-made boats, the Phowler Boat Company is now the official boat of Robertson and although that doesn't mean the company will get any publicity on the hit A&E television show, Willging said they could make a guest appearance cameo in the future.

If the boats are featured on the show, it would be the first time the Phowler boat series is aired on a national television, but Willging and his crew at Phowler are no strangers to celebrity status.

The company itself has a pretty extensive following nationwide and although they expect to get quite a bit of acknowledgement from their new famous friends, generating more business is not in the forefront of Willging's mind.

"We're not trying to be the biggest, we really just want to be the best," Willging said. "I think it's going to be a very nice, mutually beneficial relationship with Phil and his enterprises and us. Our hope is that this will be a long-term relationship. We really don't know where this is going to go but it seemed like it started out on real strong footing."