Our Story - Sideshift Bow Thrusters and Stern Thrusters

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Our Story

When Steve Houle purchased a brand new 26′ Bayliner he couldn’t wait to get his family out on the water to share with them the fun of boating. His brother, Mark, another boater, was equally excited. Steve had the boat delivered to the dock and left it in the slip for his family to board. As his wife was attempting to board the boat, a powerful gust of wind came up and pushed the boat away from the slip. She lost her footing and nearly fell in the water. Steve fought hard against the wind and tried to reposition the boat, but the wind was too strong; his brand new boat was pushed sideways and crashed into a sailboat, shattering the driver’s side window and causing significant damage. What should have been an idyllic family outing had turned into a nightmare. The boat never completed its maiden voyage and Steve was left with a large bill to pay.

The Original Bayliner Test Boat and Bow Thruster

As Steve began the expensive task of fixing up his boat, he began searching for a solution to provide better control when docking. The year was 2001. Steve spent months looking for a reasonably priced bow thruster solution, but the typical cost was going to set him back more than $10,000. Being engineers and boaters, Steve and Mark were convinced they could create a better solution for a lot less money. They say ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ and this was no exception. Steve and Mark began working on an easy-to-install bow and stern thruster solution that the average boater could afford. The result of their efforts was the marine industry’s first externally mounted bow thruster. It worked! In fact, it worked so well that other boaters started noticing and asking about it. People were so impressed with the technology and cost that they began asking Steve and Mark to make one for their boat. Word spread and the brothers initially started selling the product on eBay.

Now, nearly twenty years on, Steve has moved on to start another successful business. Mark is still on-board as President of Canadian-based Sideshift. The company continues as the only North American volume manufacturer of externally mounted thrusters, shipping to thousands of customers in over forty countries.

State-of-the-art Production and R&D Facility

In 2014 Rob Griffin joined Sideshift as CEO to help lead the company into a new era of growth and innovation. With Rob’s love of boating, and his extensive background in sales and marketing with Fortune 100 companies, the fit was perfect and sales growth has been rapid.

But the company’s main motivation isn’t sales figures. At the heart of it, Sideshift’s mission has never changed. We want other boaters to experience the joy and excitement of a day on the water without the stress and danger that Steve experienced on that fateful day in 2001.

Boating should be about enjoying time with family and friends, and relaxing and having fun – and Sideshift products are all about making that happen. We make safe and stress-free docking easy, affordable and available for virtually any type of boat, in any type of weather condition.

Feel the Freedom. Not the Stress.