In 1893 at the age of 15, Louis T. Mayea began working as a
boat builder for a prominent boatyard in Detroit. With the ups and downs of the seasonal
boating industry, Louis filled his off time by starting the Mayea Door Lock
Company in 1903 and also worked for the East End Ice Company, owned by John F.
Hacker, father to the now famous boat designer John L. Hacker.
John F. Hacker was a boating enthusiast and in 1907 started
the Detroit Launch and Power Company.
John F. took on the role of company President, Louis T. Mayea as Vice
President and Superintendent, and his son John L. Hacker was General
Manger. The Detroit Launch & Power
Company designed and built launches, sailboats and cruisers up to 60 ft. According to The Detroit News, the company
"designed most of the local champions" in the Detroit area.
In 1911 they designed and built one of the first step-bottom hydroplane
boats in the country named Kitty Hawk II.
That year Kitty Hawk II set a new world speed record of 34.9 m.p.h. She was reworked a year later and set another
speed record of 50.42 m.p.h. This was
the first time in history a boat had traveled over 50 m.p.h.
Around the same time the Detroit Launch and Power Company
became involved with a wealthy Detroit business man named Russell Alger. Alger was head of the Packard Car Company and
was also a primary investor in the Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company. Alger had become interested in trying to land
a Wright Model B plane on the water. He
hired the Detroit Launch and Power Company to design and build twin hydroplanes, as they
were called, to allow the plane to safely land on water. These were the first pontoons designed and
built for a Wright Brothers plane. The Detroit News reported during the first
sea trials, “The Wright brothers were very skeptical of the success of the
venture and its success has therefore been considered more of a feat than it
might otherwise have been.”
In February of 1911 the Detroit Launch & Power Company
incorporated with another renowned Detroit boat builder named Joseph
Later that year, Louis T. Mayea bought out the company and renamed the firm to The Mayea
Boat Works. Louis again expanded the
firm to build boats up to 100 ft. Louis’
new company continued designing and building hydroplanes, launch’s, sailboats
1916 Louis was again approached by Russell Alger. Alger had invested in a new business called the
General Aeroplane Company. The General
Aeroplane Company commissioned Mayea Boat Works to build a mahogany, two-passenger,
biplane flying boat. These flying boats were sold to the U.S. Navy as training
planes. They were the first Michigan-designed
and manufactured aircraft to be sold to the U.S. Armed Forces.
In August of 1916,
Louis sold his buildings in Detroit to his old
partner, John L. Hacker, who had recently moved back from New York. Louis moved all his operations to
Fair Haven, Michigan and renamed the company The Mayea Boat and Aeroplane
Works. Louis continued to design and build boats for
enthusiasts such as J.M. Studebaker, Jr., of the Studebaker Car
Corporation in South Bend, Indiana until his death in 1940.