Written by Derek Halsey | Photos by Anthony Harden
Meet Banner Elk’s High Country Boats: Custom-built drift boats utilizing unique designs guaranteed to make your lake and river excursions as memorable as they come.
Les Vance and Matt Maness, the two owners and builders of the High Country Boats line of custom watercraft, grew up within a half hour of each other in Raleigh, North Carolina. Yet they never knew each other until later in life, when they had a chance encounter on a stream that flows off of Grandfather Mountain through Wilson Creek Gorge, here in Western North Carolina.
Many people who live in our region come from somewhere else and often forget that this beautiful part of the country really is a destination for folks around the United States and the world. That is the case for Vance and Maness, whose families traveled west and then up in elevation to vacation in the mountains surrounding the towns of Boone and Banner Elk.
What brought the two together was a love of fishing, drinking beer, and finding a way to make a living in the mountains, which can be a daunting task. But their entrepreneurial spirit led them to yet another level once they joined forces and then set about designing and building custom-made drift boats of a high quality.
Now, after years of trial and error, a desire to constantly improve on their designs and ideas, and the feedback of customers who love what they build, Vance and Maness are making their drift boats that are comfortable, utilitarian, durable, and innovative.
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