EARL BENTZ literally grew up in the marine business. As a teenager, Bentz worked for his uncle, D. F. Jenkins, at his marine dealership in Charleston, South Carolina. Although originally hired to rig and service boats, the young Bentz also began working with the pit crew of his uncle’s boat racing team. Boat racing captured his imagination, and at age 16, Bentz drove in his first race, piloting the Blue Goose in an event on Lake Murray.

Racing quickly became Bentz’s passion and soon he was competing on the national circuit, while continuing to work on boats and outboards at his uncle’s dealership. After recovering from a near-fatal crash during a race at Lake Eufaula, Bentz was invited to join the Mercury Racing Team in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1973. He raced for Team Mercury for eight years, during which time he was the nine-time National and two-time World Champion.

The bass boat boom of the Seventies was in full-swing, and in 1975, Bentz accepted a position working with Hydra-Sports, a leading boat manufacturer in Nashville, Tennessee. His initial assignment was in research and development. It was during this time in his career that he became the first person to drive a bass boat powered by a V-6 outboard motor.

While at Hydra-Sports, Bentz moved to customer service, then to sales and marketing. He was promoted to Vice President/General Manager in March 1981, whereupon he retired from boat racing. In September 1983, Bentz resigned from Hydra-Sports to become President and founder of his first boat manufacturing company, Stratos Boats.

Under Bentz’s direction, Stratos quickly became a leader in the fiberglass fishing boat industry. After Bentz sold Stratos to Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) in January of 1987, he remained as President, and founded Javelin Boats later that year. Under his leadership, the OMC Fishing Boat Group became the world’s largest producer of fiberglass fishing boats, employing over 850 people in Middle Tennessee.

In May of 1996, Bentz founded Triton Boats, a premium line of saltwater and freshwater fishing boats. By July of 1997, Triton opened a 280,000 square foot plant and office complex in Ashland City, Tennessee. In early 2001, Triton opened an aluminum plant in Aberdeen, Mississippi. In 2005, Triton Boat Company was purchased by Brunswick Corporation and Bentz continued to serve as Triton’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer until 2018.

In September, 2018, Bentz founded Caymas Boats. Over the course of his fifty year career in the marine industry, Bentz has also contributed his time and expertise to the industry by serving on the Board of Directors of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the National Association of Boat Manufacturers, the American Sportfishing Association, the Boating Partnership Council and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. As an avid outdoorsman, in 1995, Bentz was appointed by the Governor of Tennessee to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission.

Bentz lives in Nashville with his family.