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40 Under 40

By Tim Hennagir

40 trendsetters who are leading the boating industry 

Boating Industry’s annual profile of the best young leaders in the marine industry highlights a unique group that stands out from their boating peers. 

This year’s group represents an impressive cross-section of talented industry individuals who serve associations, manufacturers, marinas, and dealers. 

These individuals were selected for their numerous accomplishments so far – and the promise seen in them to sustain the industry and carry it forward.

The industry’s future is secure with this field of trendsetters at the helm. This generation is well-prepared to provide strong leadership now and in the future. 

 

David Armenteros

Operations Manager, Dometic Corporation

What first drew you to the industry? 
I’ve been boating since I was a toddler with my family. 

What was your first job? 
HVAC purchasing and project management.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Professionally: Helping my employees and peers grow and advance within their profession. Personal: Raising my son to be an intelligent, independent and athletic little man. 

What boat did you learn to boat on?
A Jon Boat with an air-cooled 10-horse, a Super Snark Sailboat, and a 1976 Mako – 20-foot center console with a 225 HP Johnson.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?  
Charles Cisneros, Ronn Croston, Ron Pabisz, and Chuck Schott.

Michael Bowie

President, Dunbar Yachts LLC

What first drew you to the industry?  
While at school I had radio controlled boats that I made from scratch. I even cut school and hitch-hiked to the London Boat Show. My first career was fulfilling and successful and gave me a strong foundation in service and business fundamentals, but my heart was always in boating. 

What was your first job? 
My first career was in the high-pressure world of corporate IT and communications. I have run my own business and worked for large corporations in both the private and public sectors.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Refitting my old sailboat and sailing from Southampton, England, down the coast of Africa and across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, or singled-handed sailing from Grenada to Miami non-stop. In my former career, I developed technology which was sent on a probe to Mars.

What boat did you learn to boat on?  Pearson 27.

Christine Carlson

Marketing Communications Manager, Volvo Penta

What first drew you to the industry?  
I’ve always had an affinity for the water, so when the opportunity was presented to turn this life-long passion into a career, there was no hesitation. 

What was your first job? 
I worked a short stint for a non-profit political organization directly after college before joining the ranks at Wireside Communications, a boutique PR agency specializing in high tech. I worked my way up from intern to account supervisor before taking on my current position with Volvo Penta. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Recently I had an opportunity to tap into my interest in politics with an initiative to change legislation in Virginia, making it legal for a greater number of boaters in the Commonwealth to experience the joys of wake surfing. 

What boat did you learn to boat on? 
I learned to boat on an 18-foot Larson. 

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?  
My former boss, supervisor, and clients shaped me into the professional I am today. I can’t say enough about the impact the Volvo Penta executive management team and marine sales team members have had on my growth. 

Jen Corken

Director of Sales & Marketing, Clarks Landing Yacht Sales

What first drew you to the industry?  
My passion for being around water and getting out of corporate America.

What was your first job? 
Lead account manager at a non-profit organization. I managed mailing lists for direct mail campaigns for 24 international charities.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
I began five years ago knowing nothing about boats as the sales and marketing coordinator. I’ve grown and been able to take on more responsibilities – now managing all inventory, marketing, events, sales processes and best practices for our three locations.

What boat did you learn to boat on?
The first boat I ever ran was a Sea Ray L590 Fly. 

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
I’ve been lucky to be able to learn the boat business from my current general manager, Jeff Truesdale. The relationships he’s built and maintains in the industry show the respect others have for him.  I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor.

Scott Cunningham, Jr.

Director of fixed operations, Legendary Marine/OneWater Marine 

What first drew you to the industry? 
I have been boating my whole life from canoes to motor-yachts. Professionally, I saw the potential for the industry and our company regarding future growth. 

What was your first job?
My first real job was National Account Director for SkyView Consulting Partners. Some interesting projects came from that role, including being an expert witness on a multimillion dollar lawsuit to writing global aircraft utilization forecasts for the International Air Transport Association.  

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Getting my pilot’s license when I was only 16 years old. I could rent a plane, fly it somewhere, and not be able to rent a car to go get a hamburger.  

What boat did you learn to boat on?
A 1990s green and tan closed bow Ski Nautique.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
Anthony Aisquith and my dad, Scott Cunningham Sr. They have always been there personally and professionally. I wouldn’t be where I am without their guidance.

Nick Doetsch

Operations Manager and Owner, Pasadena Boat Works

What first drew you to the industry?  
My grandfather built a marina, the Pasadena Yacht Yard, 80 years ago from raw land and my family spent a lot of time with him and his business from a young age.

What was your first job? 
Pumping fuel on the docks and scraping barnacles off large yachts.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
Starting a new business from a dirt patch in a backyard and building it to five major boat lines and two locations with 12 employees in three years.

What boat did you learn to boat on? 
My grandfather’s 42-foot, 1969 Trojan with twin Chrysler engines.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
Rick Levin, former CEO of DTLR, and Keith Pauley, former CIO of Lasalle Investment Management. 

Robert P. Dunford

Northeast Region Sales Manager, Trident Funding

What first drew you to the industry?   
Both my father and grandfather have been involved in the marine industry since the mid 1970s. I grew up attending the boat shows and walking docks.

What was your first job?  
My first real job was with Trident Funding. I started about a week after I graduated college. I basically started at the bottom and learned about all aspects of the business: data entry, administrative work, credit underwriting, and customer service.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
I’m most proud of the relationships I’ve built with my boat and yacht dealer partners. They gave me an opportunity to win their business when I was age 23, with very little experience. I was encouraged to run for and subsequently elected to the National Marine Lenders Association Board of Directors in 2017. It meant a lot that my peers thought enough of me to elect me as a director. 

What boat did you learn to boat on?  
I don’t own a boat, and only boat a few times a summer with some friends.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?  
My grandfather started a specialty marine lending business in the 1970s, and my father worked for him for several years before he started his own finance company in the late 1990s.  I’ve been lucky enough to work with Vincent Luzietti my entire career. He was already an industry veteran when I started, and he took me under his wing. 

Morgan Glenn

Parts Director, OneWater Marine

What first drew you to the industry? 
It started out as a part-time job, helped me get through school, and turned into a career.

What was your first job?
I was a boat detailer and lot porter.  I still get on the tractor and move a boat around just to keep the rust off. Those were some of the best summers I can remember.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
My wife and kids, they allow me to work in the boating industry.  Completing school, and being a part of a company where I can make a difference.

What boat did you learn to boat on?
A tan and green Mastercraft Maristar 210.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
Anthony Aisquith pushes me for excellence. He’s offered me guidance and the freedom to make my own decisions. David Tidwell and Cindy Thompson, and Scott Cunningham, Sr.  have been a great support group. D.J. Hardee was the guy that got me into this. He’s now one of our service managers. 

Patrick Green

Delivery Captain, Hagadone Marine Group 

What first drew you to the industry?  
I started working summers at Gordy’s Lakefront Marine in Fontana, Wisc. in high school. This drew me in and my first job after college was driving a boat on Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park. 

What was your first job?
Scooping ice cream and making “soggies” at Gordy’s Marine. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am proud of the Hagadone Team and how far they have come in the past two years with construction and weather. It’s amazing to see a team work together and provide the best on water experience for our customers.

What boat did you learn to boat on?
My grandfather’s Streblow, and one of the infamous “Switzer Craft” at Gordy’s.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
Tom Whowell and his kids at Gordy’s. Rallee Chupic has been a great friend and mentor to me since my days of scooping ice cream. The Cobalt Boats team has been a strong influence.

Hayden Hall

Sales Manager, Hall’s Sport Center

What first drew you to the industry?  
Being part of a family business, growing up on the water, spending every weekend in the summer on the boat. 

What was your first job? 
Detailing boats for Hall’s Sport Center.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Graduating from college, and hitting half a million dollars in sales last year from July to December. 

What boat did you learn to boat on?
Four Winns 264 Funship/260 Horizon

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?  
My dad, Ryan Horton (senior salesman), Jim Rigby (senior salesman), Jim Hop (entrepreneurship professor).

Dylan Honeycutt

Business Unit Manager, Infinity Woven Products LLC

What first drew you to the industry? 
Fishing with granddad in my early childhood was my first introduction to boating. I was fortunate to get an opportunity to work for Infinity.

What was your first job? 
I paid my dues in the restaurant industry right after high school and spent summers waiting tables until I graduated from college.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?  
The kind of growth and evolution we’ve experienced internally couldn’t have been accomplished without a great team of individuals. We have fantastic employees in each department that are committed to providing a top-notch flooring product.

What boat did you learn to boat on?  
My grandfather’s 24-foot Grady White cabin boat.  

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
My father and grandfather were key influences as well as my father-in-law, John Lombardozzi. My Christian faith has always been an important foundation in my life. I’ve been fortunate to have great pastors, teachers and mentors in that regard.

Gabrielle Hoover

Director of Communications, Freedom Boat Club

What first drew you to the industry?   
When I first saw Freedom Boat Club was hiring for a social and events manager, I immediately reached out to John Giglio and was excited to join a growing industry of boating and water enthusiasts. 

What was your first job?  
My first job was working in retail at a wedding dress boutique. It was there that I learned about personalized and exceptional service.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?  
I’m especially proud of the 25th anniversary party that I planned for Freedom Boat Club in 2014.

What boat did you learn to boat on? 
A 30-foot Catalina that my husband and I owned. 

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?   
My father has been a great influence on my career and growth. I learned how to deliver great customer service from his hard work and dedication in the transportation industry. He and my mother have always inspired me to soar to new heights.

Chadley Jaziri

Senior Expert Concept Designer, Sea Ray/Bayliner Boats

What first drew you to the industry? 
An opportunity to combine my obsession with design with my passion for water.

What was your first job?
I worked at Domino’s Pizza answering phones when I turned 14, but my first job out of school was designing ATVs.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Personally, my two amazing sons, but professionally, the more than 70 boats I’ve had the pleasure of conceiving into the market place. Everything from the 16-foot Bayliner Element to the Sea Ray L-Class Yacht Line. I try to not to show favor, but I do have a particular fondness for the 2017 Sea Ray 320 Sundancer.

What boat did you learn to boat on?
A 1978 Dixie 21 that I bought for $600 when I was in high school.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
I was given a gift in mentoring under Mark Hotary, who was in turn a lifelong student of the legendary Jerry Michelak. Mark taught me more about boat design in five years than some can hope to learn in a lifetime. 

Jarrett Johnson

President, Navajo Dam Enterprises, Inc., Navajo Lake Marina; Sims Mesa Marine, LLC; Johnson Marine Enterprises, LLC  

What first drew you to the industry? 
When I was two, my family started boating with a 36-foot Sea Ray aft-cabin, progressing to a 41-foot Sea Ray aft-cabin. I was hooked from an early age and by my 20s had decided that the marina business was where I wanted to focus.

What was your first job? 
When I turned 14, I got a job at the local skating rink and by 15 was being trained as a disc jockey for the rink.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
A building project in 2017 that encompassed a new store, restaurant, and gas dock/boat rental building and numerous other improvements that totally changed the vibe of the marina. 

What boat did you learn to boat on?
A 36-foot after cabin Sea Ray.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?
My first and an important mentor was the owner of the skating rink where I went to work when I was 14. Chuck Connor took a great deal of interest in developing the kids who worked for him. My parents were my other mentors.  My dad often explained business concepts to me and then asked questions to make sure I understood. After he died, my mom, who had the advantage of being an attorney, stepped in and became my business partner.   

Logan Kale

Sales Manager, Lake Norman Marina

What first drew you to the industry? 
As a kid hanging around the dealership, seeing the relationships my family had built with customers was something really special. 

What was your first job?
My first job was working on my grandfather’s farm during the summer. I always remember thinking it was really hard work, but I know looking back that it was teaching me how important a strong work ethic really is in our business.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I have put a huge focus on our sales process and building what I believe is now one of the best sales teams in the marine industry. 

What boat did you learn to boat on?
A variety of Cobalt Boats from the dealership. 

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
I would have to say my dad. God has used him time and time again to change peoples’ lives through the boat business. 

Caleb Kasper

Technician, Pier 33, St. Joseph, Mich.

What first drew you to the industry?  
What first drew me to the industry was the opportunity to work on something different and boats are different, but they’re also fun.

What was your first job? 
My first job was working for a lawn care business.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
It’s hard to say what the accomplishment that I am most proud of is. I take pride in every task I’m able to complete successfully, regardless of how simple or difficult it may present itself to be.

What boat did you learn to boat on?
A row boat and a 6-horsepower Honda outboard.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?  
My automotive instructor not only helped direct my attention towards the marine industry, but also was a great mentor in a lot of the knowledge that I carried over from working on cars to working on boats.

Kenda Kennard

Regional Sales Manager, Groupe Beneteau, Cadillac Operations

What first drew you to the industry?  
An intern opportunity at Four Winns, while in high school, filing after school in the sales department. 

What was your first job? 
I worked at my family’s pizzeria, Pizza Plus.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
The promotion into my current role as regional sales manager for Four Winns, Glastron, Scarab Jet, and Wellcraft boats in Eastern Canada and New England. 

What boat did you learn to boat on?
A Four Winns 225 Sundowner.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?  
Andy Lindsay, our vice president of sales, was there in the early days, teaching and guiding me along the way. Skip Marsh and Andy Gamble are fellow regional sales managers and have taught me a tremendous amount. Doyle VanderPol, our marketing manager, has been a mentor back to my first year in the industry. Linda Ackerman, the sales coordinator for Glastron and Wellcraft, is always there as a colleague and close friend. 

Aaron Krenzer

Northeast Regional Sales Manager, Chaparral and Robalo Boats

What first drew you to the industry?  
My family’s business was Krenzer Marine, where I was exposed to many aspects of the industry. From an early age, I knew there was nothing better than selling boats.

What was your first job? 
Gas dock attendant at Krenzer Marine when I was 13 years old

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
Breaking into the boating industry independent from my family business at the age of 22.

What boat did you learn to boat on? 
A 13-foot Boston Whaler with a Johnson 15 horsepower outboard.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
Chuck Marshall and Bill Mudgett were our representatives when I was younger. They built great relationships with their family of dealers and loved selling boats. I learned a lot from both of them and hope to follow in their footsteps. 

Dan Lee

General Sales Manager, Boulder Boats

What first drew you to the industry? 
I’m always excited to climb in a boat or go for a boat ride. I love the opportunity to get behind the wheel of some boats that I may not otherwise ever have the chance to drive.

What was your first job?
I was a dockhand at a marina on the Mississippi River for SkipperLiner. This included fueling up boats, pumping out holding tanks, pulling weeds, and learning to lasso dock lines.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
The friendships I have formed with other like-minded professionals across the nation that have helped my team accomplish goals I have set. 

What boat did you learn to boat on?
A 1982 Sea Ray 170 I purchased when it was 17 years old. 

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
I know I couldn’t have achieved the things I have wanted to accomplish without the amazing team at our dealership.  Without a doubt, a great friend Brad, who died from a freak carbon monoxide poisoning tragedy on the Mississippi River, made me realize we only get one shot at life.  He taught me many tricks that I’ve passed along.

Christina Ledo

Store Manager, SunDance Marine USA/OneWater Marine

What first drew you to the industry?    
Boating, and primarily fishing, are passions that have been engrained from an early age. There’s nothing better than building a career around your life’s passion.

What was your first job?   
I started as a part-time sales administrator for a marine dealer while I finished college. After graduating, I was offered a full-time position that kickstarted my career in the marine industry.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?   
Being entrusted by the leadership team at OneWater and SunDance to open a new retail store in one of the largest boating markets in the world. 

What boat did you learn to boat on? 
A 1968 MFG 17-foot Tri-Hull Bowrider. 

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
I wouldn’t be where I am today without David Witty’s influential guidance and steadfast support.

Lee Levandowski

President, Charlotte Ski Boats

What first drew you to the industry?  
I was drawn to the freedom of water, the fun customers, and I always loved engines.

What was your first job? 
Gas dockhand at Klinger Lake Marina when I was 13 years old.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
Owning a business with my wife.

What boat did you learn to boat on? 
Ski Centurion

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
My grandfather Sam, Norm Kraus, and Jerry Brouwer

Dana Loggins

Warranty Administrator, Singleton Marine Group

What first drew you to the industry?  
Actually, I was in high school and just needed a job. I had no idea it would turn out to be my career. 

What was your first job? 
I worked in the ski shop at JOA Marine.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
Hands down my family.  I love being a wife and a mother to our three boys.

What boat did you learn to boat on? 
My grandfather’s 1963 Lyman.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?  
My career is where it is today because of Anthony Aisquith. Another one of the biggest influences would be Mark Breton.  Sonny Remillard helped me through those first few years in service.  Cindy Thompson gave me a chance to prove myself in the accounting office even though I didn’t have an ounce of experience. 

Jesse Marden

President, Breakwater Marine Services, LLC

What first drew you to the industry?  
I began working for my father who started Breakwater Marine Services, LLC and it became a dream to turn it into something he would be proud of.

What was your first job? 
Working at a local, family owned small-town greenhouse where I learned hard work and saw the dedication my boss had for his business. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
Building Breakwater Marine Services to its current level in a relatively short time.

What boat did you learn to boat on? 
A 290 Luhrs.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?  
My vast variety of customers and fellow friends in the industry. I look up to  them for their years of different experiences and knowledge.

Spencer Milligan

General Manager, Nautical Ventures

What first drew you to the industry? 
Growing up with my family in lakes around Dallas, Texas, I enjoyed pontoon and bass boating and fishing.  During my college years, I had the opportunity to crew on a yacht traveling to Bimini for a five-day excursion.  It was during the course of this time that I knew this would be the industry I would make my career in.    

What was your first job? 
My father owns a few businesses in Texas, so my first job was in construction on one of his renovation projects, in conjunction with being a farm hand on his land.  This quickly led to a sales position at one of his car dealerships, then a service administrator assistant, and eventually, service manager.  

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
Masterminding the opening of Nautical Ventures North Palm dealership. Being selected to the Boating Industry 40 under 40 is right up there with that accomplishment

What boat did you learn to boat on? 
A little 18-foot bass boat.  

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?  
The CEO of Nautical Ventures, Roger Moore, saw the potential in me and taught me the art of start selling small boats, then bigger boats, and then how to run a single department, then multiple departments. He taught me about business and accounting, helped me refine my selling skills. 

Jeff Morales

Director of Sales, Cobalt Boats

What first drew you to the industry?  
I was working for a motorcycle shop in college when a customer, who owned a boat manufacturer, influenced me to become an intern after being impressed with my sales approach. 

What was your first job? 
Sales and marketing intern.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I have experienced many sides of this business, from setting up dealers with a new line, sales training at a manufacturer level, being on the front lines selling and financing boats, heading up two-thirds of a North American territory, including some international with Cobalt and now director of sales. All of these accomplishments make me proud, but none are more fulfilling than the decision to ask my wife, Jennifer, to marry me and having our two amazing kids, Maebri and Brecken.

What boat did you learn to boat on? 
A 21V Tige in college, when Brett and Charlie hired me.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?
Charlie Pigeon and Brett Thurley gave me my start, hiring an inexperienced kid from a parts counter in a motorcycle shop. Darrell Wilson and David McIntyre gave me retail experience and guidance. Gavan Hunt has been a strong influence and provided the opportunity to work for Cobalt. Paxson St. Clair has been a great mentor and friend, and has respectfully taken me under his wing.

Kate Mosley

Marina Manager, Saybrook Point Marina

What first drew you to the industry?  
I grew up living on a boat at a marina at which both my parents worked – it was the best way to spend a childhood and sparked a passion for the boating industry.

What was your first job? 
Working the fuel dock.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
Working my way from an entry-level summer dock attendant position to marina manager in five years.

What boat did you learn to boat on? 
A Boston Whaler. 

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
Stephen Tagliatela, owner of Saybrook Point Inn, Marina & Spa, has been a great influence. He took a chance by promoting a young staff member to manager, and has encouraged my continued education.

Brent Parker

President, Freedom Boat Club of Virginia

What first drew you to the industry? 
My grandfather first started Parker Boat Co., a retail boat dealership, in 1927. The dealership was in our family until 2013. Everything our family did revolved around boating.

What was your first job?
Detailing boats at my dad’s dealership

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Apart from being a dad of two beautiful little girls, the accomplishment I am most proud of is my BYU education. Graduating from one of the most difficult and highest-ranking accounting programs in the nation taught me what it takes to succeed.

What boat did you learn to boat on?
An old 14-foot Alumacraft with a 9.9 horsepower Mercury outboard.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?
The most influential person in my career is my Dad. His examples of hard work, leadership, and integrity have provided the best education anyone could receive.

Andrea Helleny Pourcillie

Director of Account Services, AVALA Marketing Group

What first drew you to the industry? 
I was drawn to the industry based on my childhood experiences, but it was AVALA’s extensive client reach that really gave me the opportunity to turn my attraction to boating into a career.

What was your first job?     
My first job was in high school as a junior draftsman working with CAD at my dad’s company.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I worked with an amazing team of developers and strategists to create three different websites, all while planning my wedding, buying a house and renovating it with my husband.

What boat did you learn to boat on?
My favorite memories involve my grandparent’s Mariah MX19.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
I’m the youngest of four children with eight, 10 and 12 years between us, respectively. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have them, and their spouses, to lean on any time I have questions or need advice on a direction to take.

Lisa Murphy Sexton

General Manager, Gregg Orr Marine

What first drew you to the industry?  
When I found out that Mr. Orr was buying some local boat dealerships and marinas I was drawn to the industry. I was very familiar with his success and his company and saw an opportunity at a career doing something fun and exciting.

What was your first job? 
My first job was marina operations manager. I was in charge of two fuel docks, our liquor store, slip rentals and concierge service and our pro shop. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Being selected as a Boating Industry Top 100 dealer in 2017. Personally, my 15-year-old daughter, Desiree, is my greatest accomplishment.

What boat did you learn to boat on?
I grew up on a Mariah on Lake Mead as well as a houseboat. I am a tritoon lady now!

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?  
Gregg Orr has been a mentor and taught me most of what I know about running a dealership. He is a great leader with high expectations. 

Adam Schanfield

General Manager, Nautic-On

What first drew you to the industry? 
I grew up in St. Paul, Minn., where boating is a natural part of the culture. I learned to boat on Lake Vermilion in northern Minnesota and became decent at catching Walleye and Northern Pike. 

What was your first job? 
Newspaper delivery boy for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
Customer feedback identified the potential of “smart boating” and helped us to define it. We responded by creating Nautic-On and its Smart Boating Platform.

What boat did you learn to boat on? 
A 14-foot Alumacraft with a 9.9 horsepower engine. 

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?  
I have been blessed with extremely high-quality managers who have helped to guide me to where I am today. 

Krista Sparkes

Vice President of Sales, North America, Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP)

What first drew you to the industry?  
The passionate people who quickly showed me that the marine industry is far more than a business, it’s a way of life.  

What was your first job? 
A farm hand on my Grandpa’s dairy farm.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
I am blessed to be representing an iconic brand and to have the opportunity to do so in a predominantly male-dominated industry.  A very close second would be the teams I have coached to achieve greater success and fulfillment during my career. 

What boat did you learn to boat on? 
Besides the paddle boat, we spent hours on every summer at my family’s cottage. My best friend’s father had a 14-foot 1976 Canadian “Grew” boat rigged with an 85 horsepower Evinrude outboard.  Despite the short Quebec summers, we spent every minute we could skiing and being Queens of the Lake!

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
My first boss at BRP, Robert Lumley, has been instrumental in my career, either directly or indirectly, teaching me the ropes about business, stressing the importance of people-first leadership and setting the example with credibility and authenticity.  Dr. Michael O’Connor, an internationally recognized thought leader and executive business coach, has also had a meaningful impact on my professional journey and on my life.  

Eric Splatt

General Manager, Woodard Marine

What first drew you to the industry?  
I grew up on Northern Lake George New York at our family’s camp and also lived down the street from Lake Bomoseen in Vermont. My father also ran a waterfront program at a kids camp in upstate New York. I followed him everywhere. 

What was your first job?
My first job was at The Windchill Factory, a soft ice cream stand in the Adirondacks!  

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
One of my largest accomplishments in life was building my own home start to finish.

What boat did you learn to boat on?
I learned most of my boating skills on a 14-foot Grumman aluminum boat powered by an 18 horsepower Mercury Tiller.  We did a ton of kneeboarding and waterskiing behind that boat!

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?  
When first starting out in the boating industry I worked for Tom and Jeff Roach at Adirondack Marine in Lake George, New York. In the end, I also have my wife as my continuing mentor. I always look up to her for her sensible solutions.

Kyle Stephan

President, Katadyn Desalination/Spectra Watermakers

What first drew you to the industry? 
I grew up sailing with my family, then going out with friends in high school after my family sold the boat due to financial stress.  I grew to love the ocean, but didn’t realize that it was possible to make a career out of that until I was in college.

What was your first job?
My first job was as the senior deckhand on a casino boat in Gloucester, Mass., at 21 years old.  When they handed out paychecks they used to tell us, “There’s money in the account, go to the bank and cash it. Now.”  We were convinced it was mob-run, but you don’t ask those kinds of questions if you know what’s good for you.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
There was a DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Planning Agency) project that involved developing a new desalination system for the U.S. military Not being a trained engineer and just having a bachelor’s degree in business, it was pretty intimidating to present our findings every month to a DARPA panel of some of the most brilliant minds in the applied sciences.

What boat did you learn to boat on?  A C&C 24. 

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?
Jeff Troeltzsch was the owner/captain of a youth sail training Tall Ship that I served as the first mate of right after college. Ron Remsburg was the program director for the Nautical Sciences Program at University of Southern California.  He took a chance on hiring a 25-year-old kid to captain his 51-foot wooden schooner and take university students sailing to Catalina Island. 

Bryant Thomas

Athlete Team and Event Manager, Malibu Boats & Axis Wake Research

What first drew you to the industry?   
The fact that a large portion of boat brands are located in east Tennessee is fortunate because the towboat brand I have always loved, Malibu, is made here.

What was your first job?   
In general – ice cream scooper at Marble Slab Creamery at age 15; in boating, marketing coordinator at Malibu Boats when I was 23.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?  
Building and working with a great team that has grown a ton here at Malibu.  I’m also very proud of our events like the Rider Experience Series that promote the growth of watersports and having fun on the water.

What boat did you learn to boat on?  
A Glasstron GX 205 with an aftermarket tower.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
Lani Farmer, who is a legend in the inboard industry, hired me at Malibu. She showed me that true respect is earned, not given. She is hard-working, tenacious and expects nothing except the very best. That left an early, lasting impression.

Jabet Wade

Manager, Pontiac Boat Dock, Inc. 

What first drew you to the industry?  
Pontiac Cove Marina has been in my family for more than 50 years. My grandparents bought it in 1964, and my parents bought it from them in 1978. 

What was your first job? 
My first job at the marina was picking up trash and counting out minnows. My first job after college was at a community newspaper in Sarasota, Fla. I then worked at a magazine in Springfield, Mo. before moving permanently back to the lake in 2006.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
Since I have been back with the company full-time we built a resort, took over management of the campground adjacent to the marina, added docks, and we now organize several yearly social events.

What boat did you learn to boat on? 
A 1980s model Thundercraft runabout.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
My dad and my grandma have influenced me the most. She was a spunky, hard-working, independent woman well into her 80s. And my dad has always sort of been my “boss,” even though that relationship has evolved over the years. 

Keith Wachter

President, American Marine

What first drew you to the industry?  
I grew up in a boating family and have a natural love of the water. My favorite time was in the shop, watching my father and the other mechanics working on the boats.  

What was your first job? 
Growing up I spent a lot of time painting bottoms and cleaning boats. I still paint bottoms or detail boats, whatever is needed to get the job done right and on time.  

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I think my biggest accomplishment has been molding our way of doing business to match today’s consumers. Being able to shift how we see and treat them has enabled us to gain a lot of new customers in a short period of time.

What boat did you learn to boat on?
A 17-foot Key West dual console with an 88 special on the back. 

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?  
Working with family is not always easy, but I am lucky to be able to see and work with my dad almost everyday.  I owe all my mechanical experience and knowledge to him, as well as the ability to operate a successful marine sales and service center. 

Shelly Walker

International Sales Manager, MasterCraft Boat Company

What first drew you to the industry?   
I grew up in Minnesota, so being around the water was an intrinsic part of my childhood. I’ve always been on the international side of the business and I wanted to apply what I had learned to help a builder appreciate the value of international sales.

What was your first job? 
My first corporate job was with Genmar Holdings as an international sales coordinator.  I had just completed my degree in international business and was back in the U.S. from a semester abroad in Venezuela and fortunate to have landed such a meaty job after graduation.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
Maintaining a healthy work/life balance between my family, personal, and career. As a full-time working mother, I work hard to ensure that my children are cared for, my marriage nurtured and my job fulfilled satisfactorily.  

What boat did you learn to boat on?
A 1984 Glastron, 17-foot fish and ski inboard.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?  
Becky Sundberg, my first boss, really taught me the principals of international business and exporting boats. More recently, I’ve connected with a group of seasoned women in this industry – they’ve shared their wisdom, experience, and support, as women in a male-dominated industry, and have mentored me.

Daniel Wetzel

Service Manager, South Florida Marine

What first drew you to the industry? 
It involves three things that I love: Being on the water, mechanical and technical repairs, and seeing people happy to get back out on the water.

What was your first job? 
I was a busboy at a restaurant. I started in the industry at South Florida Marine and have never left. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
The day that clients started to ask for me by name. It was the first true affirmation that I was doing a good job and making a good impression. 

What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies?
I love the outdoors. During the cooler months, I spend time trail riding and camping with friends and family. 

What boat did you learn to boat on?
We always had canoes, kayaks and surfed as kids, but friend taught me to wakeboard and boat on his 1978 Ski Nautique. After that, I was hooked.

Who was your hero as child?
My parents. They taught me to make the best of everything, and that doing what I love is more important than anything and to always give 100 percent.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
Mark Clauss introduced me to the industry and trained me when I first started as a tech. Mike and Jana Wood have given me the support and trust to push my training, abilities and responsibilities in the dealership. They have believed in me and provided me with the tools to grow.  

Wayne Wilson

Chief Financial Officer, Malibu Boats, Inc.

What first drew you to the industry?  
As I started my career in finance, I yearned for a way to experience the infectious camaraderie that exists within boating. 

What was your first job? 
I had a summer job in high school where I worked construction for our neighbor who flipped homes. Working in boating sure the heck beats digging ditches and installing installation in attics during a Sacramento summer.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
I’m incredibly proud of what we have been able to accomplish at Malibu over the past 10 years.  Ultimately, the thing I am most proud of is that we have built an incredible, successful team that complements each other and has fun along the way.

What boat did you learn to boat on?
A little 15-foot aluminum fishing boat with a Johnson outboard.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
Michael Hooks, our chairman, is someone who has believed in my abilities and has given me incredible opportunities. Jack Springer’s work ethic, determination and unwavering commitment to success have instilled in me a new level of expectation and discipline.  Ritchie Anderson, our COO, epitomizes leadership and is more committed to constant learning and improvement than anyone I have ever met.

Brad Wilson

General Manager, Wilson Marine Corporation

What first drew you to the industry? 
I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to hold many different jobs at the dealership. Boating is a truly family lifestyle and we are here to provide families with a means to create those unforgettable memories. 

What was your first job?
My first job was yard help and boat cleaner.  I feel like an important part of my development was holding just about every job in the dealership.  It was an invaluable learning experience.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
It’s very satisfying knowing that I’ve been an integral part in the growth that’s allowed us to be the largest Detroit dealer and one of the largest dealers in the county. We are opening our newest location this summer which will give us five locations in Michigan. 

What boat did you learn to boat on?
A 14-foot runabout.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career? 
My father, Ron Wilson, has been a huge influence.  Kevin Mosher, Tom Diebol, Randy Wilson, and Debi Schroeder have been at the dealership since I was a little kid and have really been a huge part of molding me into the leader that I am today.   

 

 

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