John Dorton’s expertise and experience in building brands has earned him the reputation as one of the top executives in the boating industry. As CEO of Warbird Marine Holdings, he oversees Yellowfin; bringing segment-leading build quality, customer experience, investment capital and business professionalism.
Under his leadership as CEO of MasterCraft Boats from 1999-2012, the company became the dominant brand in waterski and wakeboard boats. Dorton’s vision to embrace athlete sponsorships in the action sports era made MasterCraft a household name with anyone tuning into the X Games, including aspiring wakeboarders. Evolving with the progression of the sport, Dorton played a pivotal role in launching the brand’s famous “X-Star” model in 1996.
Dorton has also served on multiple Boards of Directors for Icon Aircraft, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) vice chairman of the Boat Manufacturer Division (BMD) and as director for both the Water Sports Industry Association and World Wakeboard Association. Away from the factory, Dorton is a renaissance outdoorsman who can be found either on horseback, fishing for bass, or chasing sailfish offshore.
As President, Thomas Wieners is responsible for Yellowfin’s operations and the implementation and execution of its tactical and strategic plan to drive growth. He has decades of leadership and manufacturing expertise across various industries.
Throughout his career, Thomas has built and transformed organizations, creating long-term value by focusing on operational excellence. His knowledge, along with his inclusive approach to leading and building high performance teams enables him to take our brand to the next level. In 2021, Thomas took over as Yellowfin’s COO to lead the company’s operations and initiate its manufacturing strategy.
Prior to joining Yellowfin, Thomas spent five years as President and COO at ICON Aircraft, taking the ICON A5 (a recreational light-sport aircraft) from vision and prototype into serial manufacturing. Before that, he worked eight years for BRP (Bombardier Recreational Products) setting up and overseeing a new manufacturing facility for Sea Doo watercraft and Rotax engines in Queretaro, Mexico.
As a native of Germany, Thomas started his professional career in the automotive industry. He held different manufacturing and leadership roles while working for Mercedes-Benz for five years.
Thomas shares his passion for sports and the outdoors with his wife and three daughters. Boating and fishing have risen to the top of the activity list for the Wieners family.
Jeff Needles handles all financial and administration activities of the company, including financial reporting, treasury, tax, legal, audit, IT, banking and insurance.
Jeff has extensive powersports and marine experience. His career began at Harley-Davidson Motor Company’s (NYSE: HOG) Vehicle and Powertrain Operations in Kansas City, Missouri and Harley’s corporate headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2004. From 2009 to 2013, Jeff was Director of Financial Planning & Analysis at MasterCraft Boat Company (NASDAQ: MCFT) where he oversaw the acquisition and financial integration of Hydra-Sports Boats (now called HCB Yachts) from Genmar.
Prior to joining Yellowfin in 2021, Needles served as CFO of United Enertech, a private equity owned company, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. From 2013 to 2017, Jeff was the CFO at Schnellecke Logistics USA, a German based automotive 3PL that provides sequencing, module & welding assemblies, transport, supply, warehousing and packaging logistics. While at Schnellecke, Jeff oversaw their U.S.-based operations for both Mercedes in Vance, Alabama and Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Chief of Staff
With a passion for building boats and ever-expanding his industry knowledge, Jonathan Lipworth is an integral part of the Yellowfin team. As our Chief of Staff, his roles are wide-ranging, from facilitating executive staff governance to order management and pricing lead, a department he built. Jonathan also built and leads Yellowfin’s IT department, while also assisting in devising company strategy and advising C-level.
When he’s not at work, Jonathan enjoys socializing with friends on and off the water, reading books and learning new topics, and building computers and servers. He even maintains his own home server! Needless to say, he is an asset at Yellowfin and will continue to drive our brand into a successful future.
Vice President Sales
Heath Daughtry has been part of the Yellowfin family since 2007, and he exemplifies everything we stand for. He is an avid outdoorsman and angler with decades of experience on the water, and he brings that same passion to Yellowfin every day. Presently, Heath is our VP of Sales, but his role at Yellowfin comes with a much further reach than his title suggests. Since he began at Yellowfin nearly two decades ago, Heath has played a pivotal role in every part of the boat building process and has been critical in the company’s development and evolution to what it is today. Furthermore, he is the widely recognized face of the brand, and represents the “Y” with knowledge and dedication everywhere he goes. Whether he’s catching billfish in Costa Rica with his family or leading the driving what’s next in the world of center console sport fishing boats, Heath exudes the Yellowfin spirit 24/7.
Vice President Operations
When it comes to multi-faceted experience in knowledge in this industry, Fritz Harrington’s acumen is unparalleled. A lifelong boater and avid fisherman, he has a propensity for long-range snapper and grouper missions beyond the horizon at famed, remote destinations like Pulley Ridge and the Dry Tortugas. When Fritz isn’t out fishing, his passions bleed through within the Yellowfin walls, where he fulfills a significant role in just about everything we do. He began his career in the industry with Seven Marine, where he was pivotal in the ground-breaking introduction of the 600-horspower outboard to the market, contributing by way of key integration and sales roles. From there, Fritz took his talents to Nor-Tech, where he held the title “Head of Customer Experience and Operations.” He then went to Bertram, serving in the same capacity, before joining Yellowfin. Presently, Fritz is an integral part of the team, as he proudly serves as Yellowfin’s VP of Operations. A long-time Yellowfin user, Fritz knows these boats inside and out, from bow to stern and beyond like no other. Needless to say, we’re glad he’s on OUR team!
VERÓNICA RUBIO MALO
Vice President Global Supply Chain
Verónica has a background of a leader specialized in creating value through the development of organizations, systems and culture. Throughout her 20 years of professional experience, she has led high-performance and multidisciplinary teams internationally within manufacturing environments across industries, including green field and start up projects in aerospace and powersports. She graduated from International Business and holds an MBA from La Trobe University in Australia and Laurentian University in Canada.
At Yellowfin, she leads Global Supply Chain and has been tasked with applying modern efficiencies and best practices to the marine industry.
Verónica appreciates the simple joys in life. She is passionate about experiencing new cultures, staying active and devoting time to family and friends. Being a foodie and dog lover, she is enjoying embarking on the exciting world of boating and fishing.
Vice President Brand and Dealer Sales
Boating is in his blood. Since joining the team in August 2019, he has been tasked with overseeing the marketing efforts, dealer support and product development. Dorton played a key role in launching the company’s brand campaigns, the rollouts of numerous model launches, and with expanding dealer network nationwide.
Previously with Brunswick Corporation, Dorton served in multiple roles in marketing, product development, engineering and business development. In 2017, he was named to Boating Industry’s list of 40 Under 40 industry leaders. The move to Brunswick came after the acquisition of HeyDay Boats, a builder Dorton co-founded in 2015 and served as president.
He cut his teeth in marine manufacturing, where he was involved even in his childhood. Dorton was a stagehand for the unveiling of several major product launches and interned each summer from 2007-2012. His first job after college (and winning a national championship in wakeboarding). Ben has introduced more than 25 new boat models so far in his career.
An avid outdoorsman, Dorton is a member of The Wildlife Society and is involved in their fisheries preservation effort. A father of two, Dorton has taken to the local fishing scene since moving to South Florida entering sailfish tournaments and diving for lobster.
Sr. Director of Engineering
A dual-degree engineer with a passion for fishing, boats, and the outdoors, Dan Freer has over 18 years of product development and manufacturing experience. Dan started his boat building career in his late teens when he built his first poling skiff using fiberglass, epoxy, and a pile of marine plywood. Since then, he earned a business and mechanical engineering degree from Texas A&M University, and he has held many high-level positions at innovative businesses such as Brunswick Corporation, Exosent Engineering, and Nyati Automation.
Dan’s career path has made him a very well-rounded engineer and leader. He’s experienced in automation, steel fabrication, composites, and of course, boat building. Dan’s 10+ years in the marine industry are highlighted by his ability to drive innovation and lead teams to engineering and manufacturing success. In fact, he’s been awarded three U.S. patents for his work in product development. Under Dan’s leadership, the product development and engineering teams at Yellowfin are on pace to become the most formidable engineering groups in the marine industry.
When he’s not building boats, Dan can be found fishing or prepping for his next fishing trip. He doesn’t discriminate when it comes to fishing styles. You can find him deep dropping, pond hopping, trolling, slow pitching, bombing the beach, or stalking the flats on his hand-built carbon/Kevlar skiff. While he doesn’t compete anymore, Dan did compile several inshore tournament victories in his early 20s. When he’s not working or fishing, he is spending time with his wife, family, and friends (probably talking about boats or fishing).
EMILIO SILVA CAJIGA
VICE PRESIDENT, BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION
With more than a decade of experience in leading manufacturing facilities, leading both strategic and tactical roles in manufacturing engineering, production, materials and logistics. Emilio graduated as Industrial Engineer from ITESM CEM following an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management and most recently from LEAD at Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
Having a strong industrial background and experience in multiple fast-paced and specialized environments such as automotive and aerospace, Emilio has held key leadership positions throughout his career including as chief of staff and plant manager in the U.S. and Mexico. Part of that experience involved testing the products themselves, with his first time out fishing with Invincible being reminiscent of training colleagues to pilot PWC’s.
Emilio is a passionate and active ultimate frisbee player who has qualified for the world championships twice so far. When not working, you can find him happily throwing the disc or mahi fishing with the team.
Human Resources Manager
Kristy Nevitt brings a wealth of Human Resources experience to Yellowfin, 20 years in the world of manufacturing to be exact, and our world-class team of boat builders wouldn’t be what it is today without her extensive contributions. Prior to joining Yellowfin as our Human Resources Manager, she worked in the same capacity at Arconic, a leading aluminum supplier to the automotive industry, where she excelled in labor relations, contract negotiations, and policy development. Presently, at Yellowfin, Kristy’s wide-ranging roles perfectly align with her professional strengths, which include employee engagement and retention, compliance and regulatory expertise, HR strategy, conflict resolution, precision, and goal achievement. Fitting with her role at Yellowfin, Kristy is a fanatic of the outdoors and enjoys boating and fishing with her husband and her three children.