A Quarter-Century of American-Made Mud Motors

Mud Buddy Manufacturing
Written by Ryan Cartner

Mud Buddy Manufacturing is a shallow water motor manufacturer with a reputation for high-quality equipment built for performance. The company is recognized throughout the world as the developer of the world’s largest selection of premier mud motor products with high-performance engineering and state of the art technology.
Mud Buddy Mfg was founded in 1994 by the current owner and President Glenn Foreman. It is located in West Jordan, Utah near the Great Salt Lake, the largest body of water in the western United States and the largest saltwater lake in the entire western hemisphere. Hundreds of miles of shoreline surround it, and The Great Salt Lake is also fed by shallow fresh water lakes, much of it waist-deep marshland.

The traditional outboard motor is not suitable nor built for shallow water boating. These engines are optimized for much deeper waterways, where the ideal position for the propeller is below the hull of the boat. The lower section of the motor is designed to reach down into the water which can result in the propeller colliding with the ground or other obstacles, and getting damaged. A mud motor is designed to sit much higher on the boat with a drive shaft that pushes the propeller back much further away from the hull. This way it can perform at its peak while staying very near the surface of the water. It also has a heavy duty stainless steel prop which is much better at surviving damage when it does hit an obstacle.

Further, internal combustion engines need cooling to prevent them from overheating. Traditional outboard motors use a pump to draw in water from near the propeller and cycle it through cavities built into the motor housing. Since shallow water is often cluttered with mud, plant, or other debris, this debris can damage an outboard motor if it obstructs the cooling line. Mud Buddy motors sit near the surface and are not consistently submerged; the engine is air cooled which completely avoids cooling issues caused by debris in the water.

The company is committed to quality. Every aspect of a Mud Buddy motor is designed for optimal performance in shallow water. Where many competing products are based on traditional motors with modifications to make them better suited to shallow water applications, Mud Buddy motors are specially engineered for these applications from the ground up. Every motor is hand tuned, and every component has been chosen for performance.

Mud Buddy Mfg’s shallow water motors have a wide range of applications. Whether they are being used for duck hunting in swamps, catfishing in deep mud, recreational boating, flood water rescues, scientific research mosquito abatement, or any of a large number of other functions, this equipment is built to get boats into and out of places where other motors simply cannot safely go. Mud Buddy motors are in a class of their own as a result of purposeful engineering, quality manufacturing, and the top performing components on the market.

The company offers a line of motors in four categories: Longtail and Super Longtail, Sport V, Mini Sport, and HDR Reverse Belt Drive. A Longtail motor, as the name suggests, has its propeller at the end of a long shaft, sometimes up to six feet, which extends from the motor at the back of the boat, diagonally down into the water a few feet behind. These are not as fast as surface drive motors, and take more effort to steer, but their unique design enables them to perform well in very shallow water. The Mud Buddy Super Longtail has a much larger propeller that is geared down, trading off more torque for speed.

The Mini Sport is smaller and lighter in weight than similar models, making it the ideal choice for smaller boats.

Mud Buddy’s Sport V is a surface-drive, shallow-water motor that handles like an outboard. Normally, one of the major tradeoffs of using a mud motor is that, while it is better at pushing through heavy vegetation and shallow water, you lose some of the maneuverability of an outboard style deep water motor. The Sport V was specially engineered to mitigate this problem. Customers say that it handles just as well as an outboard and in more challenging conditions.

Finally, the HDR Reverse Belt Drive motor is Mud Buddy’s top-of-the-line motor. Like four-wheel drive for the water, this surface-drive motor can get a boat through some of the most difficult water situations.

Mud Buddy motors are designed to work with all boats, but the company wanted to build a stronger boat specifically for shallow-water applications. Around 2000, the company partnered with a boat manufacturer called Rivertrail of Clinton, Arkansas to build a custom boat that could complement Mud Buddy’s motors for best performance in shallow water. This continued until 2008. “That year, an F4 tornado went right through the Rivertrail factory and destroyed it, killing one person.”

In the wake of this tragedy, Rivertrail closed its doors permanently. “This left us without the specialized boats that our dealers and users wanted,” says Foreman. “So we approached Rivertrail and bought the drawings, the name, and any leftover equipment and supplies that weren’t destroyed by the tornado.”

In June of 2009, Glenn Foreman bought an abandoned clothing factory in Mountain View, Arkansas, hired thirty-five people and began building shallow-water boats under the name it purchased from Rivertrail: Excel Boats. In the beginning, it offered seven models ranging from fifteen to eighteen feet. Since then, the company has expanded its capacity by investing in equipment including the most advanced computer numerical control (CNC) benders, a thirty-five by seven-foot plasma CNC cutter, decoilers, forklifts, press brakes, saws, shears, and everything else necessary to manufacture the products in its catalog. The Excel factory is highly advanced and has a unique blend of cutting edge technology and highly skilled employees.

Over time, the company’s shallow water boats earned a reputation for strength and durability. As a result of the quality and performance of these products, demand for other boat types grew. Excel began expanding its line to include specialty fishing boats including bay boats, bass boats, multi species fishing boats, and a varied selection of others. “We certainly had the capabilities and the demand to build fishing boats,” says Foreman. “Because we built such a strong, hardy shallow water boat that was capable of hitting rocks and stumps and weeds, when we started building fishing boats, they took off right away.”

Today, the company builds about eighty percent fishing boats and twenty percent shallow water boats. It has seventy-one employees and plans to add another thirty-five people to operate a new 25,000-square-foot factory in Mountain View. Recently, the company dedicated a site in Tennessee to an additional 100,000-square-foot factory that will employ up to 200 people and will be fitted with cutting-edge boat building equipment.

When Mud Buddy Mfg decided to develop a boat to complement its motors, the country was in an economic recession, and many competing boat manufacturers were struggling to survive. However, Mud Buddy’s motors were successful in spite of difficult circumstances. They were engineered from the ground up to meet the needs of its users, and its Excel boats were developed with the same approach.

“We build a boat that our customers want,” says Foreman. “We listened to them; we listened to our dealers; we built what they wanted; we supported their needs, and by virtue of that, the company was a success when other companies were going out of business.”

Some other manufacturers have shallow water products available, but Mud Buddy equipment is different. The company specializes in engineering and manufacturing equipment for this particular application, and its products can outperform any other in the marketplace. Whether the water is two inches deep, heavy with mud, or covered in thick reeds and vegetation, Mud Buddy can take a boat where no other motor can.



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