Environmental responsibility from start to finish

Mercury Marine consistently demonstrates its deep concern and respect for a healthy environment by meeting and exceeding the most stringent environmental regulations, while creating durable, reliable products. For decades, Mercury has led the marine industry in reducing its use of natural resources, proving that a company can be environmentally responsible while reducing its costs.

The process starts by smelting recycled aluminum to create engine blocks. At the end of the process, Mercury products are delivered to dealers and boat builders in reusable shipping containers, saving money and landfill space. The effort also extends into the community, where Mercury spearheaded a project in which local school students decorated 55-gallon recycling containers and collected 1.2 tons of recyclable material.

No part of the manufacturing process escapes scrutiny; everything from cleaning and reusing manufacturing oils and cooling water to large-scale energy reduction are under constant review. For example, since 2011 Mercury has reduced its annual water usage by 250,000 gallons through changes in its paint system, and has saved 41 billion BTUs annually through similar paint system efforts, consolidation and implementation of a heat-recovery system.

For three consecutive years, Mercury has received the “Green Master” designation from the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council, placing it among the state’s top 20 percent of participating companies. Mercury Racing, a division of Mercury Marine, was awarded the 2011 Environmental Award for Economic Feasibility and Sustainability by the Union International Motonautique (UIM), the international powerboat sanctioning body.

Thor: the engine that built a company

Thor, a single-cylinder outboard engine rejected by retailer Montgomery Ward then rebuilt and improved by Carl Kiekhaefer in a desperate need for cash, would launch Kiekhaefer Corporation into the outboard motor business.

The non-functioning outboards were redesigned to include an adjustable carburetor that took full advantage of an improved, hotter spark, an enlarged intake manifold, and a forged, balanced crankshaft. Selling the improved motors — branded “Sea King” — back to Montgomery Ward provided capital to fund modest styling changes to the engines, which were then introduced to the boating public at the 1939 Milwaukee Sportsman Show.

Built in Cedarburg, Wis., and ranging from 1.5hp to 3hp, the improved Thor engines were enough to spark additional orders from Montgomery Ward, as well as the national chain of Western Auto Stores, which sold under the brand name Wizard.

George Scott (Mercury years: 1960 – 2001)

George Scott’s “fantastic learning experience” at Mercury Marine began in 1960, and it changed his life forever. As a technician in the experimental lab, Scott was tasked with testing and analyzing prototypes, but “We really did everything in those days,” he said.

“Everything” included anything from an employee’s assigned job to supplementing building crews to repairing construction equipment. Scott and three others were assigned to transport boats to Mercury’s secret test facility, Lake X, near St. Cloud, Fla., a two-week roundtrip. “We ended up staying there for the next three months, building roads and levees around the lake and driving test boats. We ran boats around the clock,” he said.

Back in Wisconsin, George held various quality-management positions over 40 years with Mercury and met his future wife, Mary Ann. The Scotts are now retired and live in Fond du Lac, Wis.