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Maintaining the legacy
Local boat builder carries family business into fourth generation
aristocraft 3
Bill and Scott Turner work on trimming the seats for a new production on their shop floor. - photo by Joshua Demarest

Scott Turner is a family man. He runs the company his grandfather started, hand-crafting boats with his wife, father and, for the summer at least, his two kids.

For Scott, being able to work with his family is a gift.

“It’s actually really good,” he says. “At the end of the day, it ends up being a blessing because, with your family, you’re spending that much more time together.”

Claude Turner, Scott’s grandfather, served in WWII until 1946. When he came back, he picked up a few odd jobs building fishing boats for his neighbors. Soon, his boats were becoming a hot commodity, so he decided to start AristoCraft out of his garage.

Within a decade, the company had grown to employee hundreds. With the addition of a motorized assembly line courtesy of the Ford Motor Company plant in downtown Atlanta, AristoCraft began producing a boat every 15 minutes.

By 1959, production was being retooled to accommodate the booming popularity of fiberglass. The resulting models were affordable and durable, making them a great family boat.

When Claude Turner retired in 1980, it seemed to be the end of AristoCraft — until Claude’s son, Bill, bought the rights to AristoCraft and restarted production in 1987. At the time, it was little more than a hobby for Bill. But by the 90s, demand had grown enough for it to become a job. That’s when Scott began working as the third generation of Turner at AristoCraft.

By the 2000s, he was a full-time employee in the shop.

Turner certainly hasn’t been immune to the weight of a family legacy. When the economy began to falter in 2008, things got tough.

“It’s a matter of pride, more than anything,” explains Turner. “When things were so tough, you couldn’t let it fail. You didn’t want it to die on your hands. You have to carry on because it’s what your family’s known for.”

Today, AristoCraft is located here in downtown Dawsonville on Hwy 9 South.

Alongside the boat shop is a museum where Turner has collected one of every boat AristoCraft has ever produced. They also have other boats and cars that have a connection to the Turner family and AristoCraft brand.

The shop handles new boats and boat repair work, and the museum is open throughout the week for a tour, provided, of course, that Scott and his family aren’t out enjoying the fruits of their labor on Lake Lanier.

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a summer-long initiative to highlight local businesses that really help make Dawson County special. If you know of a locally owned small business that you’d like to see profiled, send us a tip to