What began as a mobile boat repair service operating from the back of a panel truck, has evolved today into Latham Marine's nearly 25,000 square feet of machining, manufacturing and assembly space, featuring the latest, top-of-the-line CNC mills, lathes and the largest available High Definition Plasma Cutter, all assuring unmatched quality control.

A true "Florida Cracker," born in Fort Lauderdale and raised in Miami, Latham inherited the "tinkerer gene" from his father, an electrical engineer. Armed with his mechanical passion, while in high school in the late '60s, Latham started "hopping-up" cars, designing and building his own hoist system in the family garage.

About the same time, offshore powerboats started to appear in the waters of South Florida. Latham's neighbor was a yacht broker who realized the potential popularity of these first speed boats, and recruited the teenaged Latham as his "fix-it guy." The die was cast and Latham found his new passion.

Racing Beckons
In 1972, Latham abandoned the mobile repair van, set up shop and a year later, expanded. Latham Marine was doing good business offering custom rigging, repair and small engine work, and then, around 1976, a series of events occurred that would shape the future for Latham, offshore performance boating and the entire marine industry. At about the time he met Kathy, the woman who would become his wife and business partner, Latham met new client, Bill Elswick. The New Jersey boater had a new 28' Magnum and wanted a list of mechanical changes performed before he brought it back to his home waters. Latham responded with his typical eye on detail and quality and his Championship racing career was launched.

Based on his performance, Latham built a reputation and became one of the first "throttlemen-for-hire," drawing a paycheck where most paid for the privilege. He also started racing himself in Modified and Production classes.

But in Key West in 1979, racing with Ed Mero in a 30' Sutphen named "Magic Gems," a series of game-changing events occurred. Running well in a moderate chop, the pair lost their steering, nearly tossing them from the boat and leaving them out of the race. Mero asked Latham for a solution.

Latham purchased his first manual lathe, taught himself to use it and set about designing and building a revolutionary new steering system from scratch. In 1980, using his own steering system in the boat - the 30' Cobra called "Man-O-War," Latham took the Regional, National and World Championship Modified Class titles.

With a reputation and respect among racers as a problem-solver, Latham began designing and building durable, race-ready parts-and went rigging and racing around the world. He was one of the first to bring a fully outfitted "show rig" to the races, a natural evolution, but a far cry from his original mobile panel van.

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