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Josh Delforge: The Boat Business is in the Blood

Heather Steinberger: Marine Editor      Published March 2018

Josh Delforge: The Boat Business is in the Blood

You never know where life’s little twists of fate will take you. Just ask Josh Delforge, vice president of design and engineering for the Marquis-Larson Boat Group; his career trajectory most certainly did not move in a straight line, but he ended up exactly where he wanted to be.          

Josh was born and raised in Oconto, Wisconsin, on the western shore of Lake Michigan’s Green Bay. He spent countless happy hours fishing with his family, and his house was close enough to the water that sandbagging was a frequent necessity during the 1980s’ high-water years.

“I remember waking up one morning, and there was 2 inches of water in my bedroom,” he recalls with a chuckle.

Oconto was a boatbuilding town, and growing up there meant living a life attuned to water (although preferably not inside the house). Yet it never occurred to young Josh that a career in the marine industry might be a possibility.

“I had to drive by the Cruisers engineering building every day, and I had no idea,” he says. “My aspiration was to be an astronaut. That’s where my head was. And I knew I wanted to pursue engineering.”

Josh was accepted to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but on a campus visit to UW-LaCrosse with a friend, he saw information for a dual-degree program. With five years of schooling, he could earn two degrees, and he fell in love with the LaCrosse campus.

Josh earned his Bachelor of Science degree in physics at LaCrosse, then he went on to earn his BS degree in engineering mechanics at Madison. (Later, he would complete a Master of Business  Administration degree as well, through UW-Eau Claire.) As he prepared to launch his career, his sights were firmly set on employers like NASA, Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Then, on Feb. 1, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, killing all seven crewmembers. The aerospace industry froze, and Josh ended up going home to Oconto.

“I worked as a substitute teacher and baseball coach,” he remembers. “I was looking for a job I could get excited about. Then my uncle, who worked for Carver in Pulaski, told me they needed help in their engineering department.”