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Don Radon

In The Beginning...

The Radon Boats history began back in the early 1960s when avid sportsman and construction worker Ron Radon Sr. moved his family from their native Washington State to Santa Barbara California. After learning to scuba dive, Ron Radon was convinced by his buddies to try commercial abalone diving. Ron started diving the local Santa Barbara waters in a 16' sport fishing boat and soon found he could make a good living doing so. Soon Ron purchased a 20' fiberglass production hull and modified it to better suit commercial use. After the first season, Ron realized the shortcomings of his boat and decided to design something better.

Ron's empirical knowledge gained from working in the notoriously rough waters of the Channel Islands led to a design that was a vast improvement over the typical boats used at the time. At the end of the second season Ron sold his boat and, together with his sons Don, Mike and Ron Jr., began production on a new 24' boat. Using all the best features of the first boat, and the additional knowledge gained from testing done over the last season, the new 24' Radon became the envy of many commercial divers in the area. Ron and his sons were able to work in almost any sea condition, covering more territory more quickly than most of the other boats in the fleet. Ron Sr. earned the nickname "superman" for his unprecedented success in the commercial abalone diving community.

The habit of building an improved boat for each new season, then selling it at the end of the season, continued for several years. Each boat the Radons built was better than the last. The Radon family took pride in improving the design aspects of their boats as well as their boat building techniques. At the end of the 1969 season, Ron and his sons were presented with an interesting problem. Two different divers were vying for the latest Radon, and Ron agreed to sell them both the boat. Ron figured that he would need to build a new boat for himself, so how hard could it be to make two this time? While Ron and his sons were building the new boats, another commercial diver came along and persuaded Ron to sell him the second boat he was making for himself. It was at that moment that Radon Boats was born! Over the next few years the Radons built custom boats out of plywood and fiberglass, constantly perfecting the design that can still be seen in the lines of every Radon built today.

The Franchise

In 1973, the Radons purchased a new plant in Port Townsend, Washington. Ron Sr. sold the Santa Barbara facility to one of his long-time employees and set him up as a franchise builder. The Radons relocated and began work on the first Radon boat molds. The molds expedited the building process, and insured uniformity to the much sought-after design. The first three molds were for 32', 24' and 19' boats. Soon after that, Ron set up franchises in California, Hawaii, and Singapore. His son Don Radon, at age 24, traveled to Hawaii and Singapore to help set up the new franchises and enjoyed the challenge. In 1977, Ron Sr. retired from boat building. Don and Ron Jr. then moved back to Santa Barbara and formed R & R Custom Boats. After a year together, the two brothers divided their operation and Don set up a new location in Morro Bay. By1979 Don had moved back to Santa Barbaraand continuedto build boats with his uncle George Radon. In 1980 he started his own business as D.R. Radon Boat Building.

A New Focus

By 1985 commercial fishing boat sales were waning, and Don decided to concentrate on a more refined sport fishing boat built on the same principles and quality of the commercial Radon. The first boat in the line was the Radon Sport 21, a very basic sport boat with a walk-around cuddy cabin that appealed to many avid fishermen. The Radon Sport 21 was an instant hit at the 1986 Los Angeles Boat Show and propelled Don's business to new heights. Radon boats were once again the talk of the industry -- this time the sport fishing industry!

While at the 1987 Los Angeles Boat Show, Don was approached by another boat manufacturer who produced a boat called Innovator. They proposed that Don sell his company to Innovator and make Don president of the newly formed company, "Radoncraft". Don saw this as an opportunity to take his boats to the next level. So, with the promise of complete creative control over the new line of boats, "Radoncraft" was born. Don destroyed most of his old molds and built new 22' and 26' molds for the new line. For Don it seemed like a dream come true -- but it would not last. In the end, Don did not have the control he was promised, and he and Innovator parted ways in 1989. Soon after, the Innovator and Radoncraft boat lines were sold to Ericson Yachts, a sailboat manufacturer which quickly closed its doors. Don immediately purchased the Radoncraft molds and name back from Ericson.

A Needed Break

After more than 20 years in the business, Don decided that he needed a break from boat building. He sold the molds he had designed at Innovator, along with a new 25' hull mold, and licensed the Radoncraft name to his old acquaintance Harold Davis. Harold started Davis Boats based in San Luis Obispo County where he has built the Radoncraft line of boats for a number of years. Don built himself a 26' hull from the old Radoncraft mold and began working as a commercial fisherman -- something he hadn't done since he was much younger. The time off was good for Don and it gave him a chance to once again test and re-think the Radon design as he worked the tough waters of the Northern Channel Islands off Santa Barbara.

Back to the Roots

As his father had done more than 20 years before, Don took the empirical knowledge gained from working the boat commercially and turned it into an improved design. The newly designed 26' hull that came out of this experience was the first significant hull change in many years. The new 26' boat became Don's signature boat and brought the Radon design to a whole new level. Since 1996, Don has been building boats day and night! Together with his wife Linda Radon and a team of seasoned professionals, Don has been turning out the highest quality boats the Radon name has ever been associated with. Encouraged by his new found enthusiasm and success, Don designed an all new 22' sport model in 1999, and the wildly popular Signature 29' model in 2002. The Signature 29 has proven to be a huge success in the sport fishing market. Today, Don builds each boat with the enthusiasm and commitment to quality that has made the Radon name so widely admired for generations.


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 Last Updated 11/19/12