By Jamie Stafford
Boating Industry’s Movers & Shakers program brings a wealth of talented nominations to the fore. Though we’ve shone a spotlight on this year’s Mover & Shaker of the Year as well as the finalists, there are still more industry leaders worthy of recognition for 2022.
This six leaders have been making Bold Moves to drive the industry forward. From creative storytelling to innovative start-ups, innovation comes in many forms, and Boating Industry recognizes and celebrates all the myriad ways that the marine industry seeks to evolve.
Financing the future
Senior VP, Marine Vertical Leader, Huntington Distribution Finance
While manufacturers, dealers, and marinas necessarily demand most of the attention when it comes to industry recognition, those that work behind the scenes supporting these businesses are no less crucial to the industry’s success. Tracy Williams works with marine companies day in and day out, making sure they have the finances to bring their love of the water to an ever-growing customer base. She’s responsible for OEM marine relationships, as well as Huntington Bank’s dealer sales team.
“Really what it comes down to is – what's old is new again,” Williams says. “We brought everything back to the basics: strengthening the current relationships, building new relationships by being a lifeline for our clients, and sticking through good times and bad. We conducted wellbeing calls to dealers, which led to interest-assistance programs. We really pivoted to being proactive with credit line increases as volume levels increased.”
Williams led with this compassionate and forward-thinking attitude, leading to an overall increase of over 20% in dealers overall credit lines and signings. “In some ways,” says Williams, “our approach was entirely new, and in other ways, it’s just how we conduct business every day. It’s being agile, listening to our customers, partnering to find creative solutions that they need. We know a one-size fits all approach doesn’t work, because everybody’s needs are different.”
To come up with these creative solutions, Williams leans on her team. “I’m definitely not a team of one,” she laughs, “We listen to customers and provide tailored solutions. We have a full suite of insights and expertise right here, so I rely on my colleagues to brainstorm and think outside of the box to give our clients the best of Huntington every day. Our success depends on their success. I will always call in my teammates and say, ‘here’s the situation, what can we do to help?’”
While Williams depends on her team to help, they rely on her for her leadership and insight. As a veteran of the recreational boating scene, she understands the industry in important ways. Her passion for all things marine is fed by the passion of her clients. “I have such a love for the industry. Hands down, it’s because of the people. They are like an extended family. Because they love what they do, it really makes you want to be a part of their network. If you are your authentic self, if you are transparent, if you stick to your word, the marine industry will embrace you and will help you achieve your goals. It’s very much a relationship-driven industry and I’ve made a lot of great friends throughout my career as a result.”
By the industry, for the industry
Chief Operating Officer, International Yacht Brokers Association
Paul Flannery is a lifelong devotee of the boating industry: “I started at 12 years old as a dock boy at my father’s marina on eastern Long Island, worked there during the summers until I was 18. Then I went to work in a tackle store and then, when I left college, I went to work on a charter boat service, traveling all over. After about 14 years, I became a yacht broker, eventually opening my own brokerage before selling it to a larger company. While I was working there, I was invited to run for a seat on the board of directors of the Florida Yacht Brokers Association. In 2016, I was elected president of the board. In 2018, I left brokerage to assume executive director of the International Yacht Brokers Association.”
This impressive tenure has allowed Flannery a unique perspective on the evolving industry and its needs. “More people are entering the industry, especially first-time boat owners. How people boat has changed significantly, as engines become more powerful. Covid-19 has prompted a lot of changes as well. We use a whole lot more technology than we used to use. As an association, the IYBA has decided that it’s our job to help the community control its own destiny by controlling its own data. We’re developing a document processing system for the brokerage community that also provides a business analysis tool.”
With his perspective and experience, Flannery is well-equipped to handle any snags that may come along the way. “I’ve always been a solutions-oriented person,” Flannery says. “I don’t dwell in a challenge. Challenges – I don’t even honor the word. They're just opportunities. If you’re faced with a challenge, that means that something needs to happen.”
Storytelling on the water
Director of Content, Boats Group
Ryan McVinney got his start in boating early, growing up on Cape Cod. “Boats, movies and vintage cars are what I’m all about. I grew up tooling around on small skiffs, marsh cats and sunfish exploring the area’s water and the rivers and lakes of the Northeast.” Along with a love of boating, McVinney found his passion in media.
“My father was a film and photography teacher who influenced my love for the outdoors by frequently taking me out on nature photography adventures. In college, I studied filmmaking and media production, and it was only natural for me to combine my love for the outdoors with my interest in filmmaking in my career. For years, I worked with outdoor brands and travel agencies, producing content and eventually began to focus more specifically on boats and the marine industry. In 2019, I accepted a position with Boats Group as the head of content for their three major brands, Boat Trader, YachtWorld and Boats.com.”
McVinney hones in on storytelling, creating new and compelling narratives to connect with the Boats Group’s audience. “I launched the outdoor documentary TV series Stomping Grounds for Boat Trader, exploring boating culture across the country and giving boaters a chance to share their stories through our channels. Other content series have included the popular Factory Fridays YouTube series for Boats.com, YachtWorld LEGENDS and Cult Classics. I’ve looked for ways to push the envelope with more video and social media to engage our audiences and tell our customers stories. Finding new ways to integrate video content into our brand’s marketing has been a significant cornerstone of my strategy, and we’ve developed many episodic series for each brand.”
McVinney is recognized by his team for being hardworking and inventive. As the director of content, he often works with limited resources allocated to the content he is pushing to create and be seen. He is quick to jump in, creating, editing, uploading, writing and publishing. His efforts all speak to the passion he has for his role and the industry itself.
“I love having the opportunity to encourage people to get out on the water and enjoy nature and a healthy outdoor lifestyle,” he says. “Being the voice of our brand to support people in that journey, and helping our customers tell their stories, is incredibly rewarding. I think our brands and products can help to create a positive impact on people’s lives, inspiring folks to see a common ground by coming together around their shared interests and passions.”
Conviction and teamwork
Chief Operating Officer, Dealer Profit Services
Myril Shaw is a man who knows exactly what he wants. A veteran of start-ups, when his old company no longer fit his vision, he went out a created his own. Dealer Profit Services – the result of Shaw’s ambition – is a financial service and compliance company that helps dealers across the country.
While Dealer Profit Services is now an established name in dealer financing, the beginning brought some necessary level of risk. Shaw faced it head on, recalling, “there were parts of it that were intimidating, but I’ve been with start-ups most of my life, so I’m sort of used to the environment and uncertainty of it.”
One of the biggest challenges was building up a trustworthy team. “From a technology side, that was easy. I’m a technology guy, and I’m also a business development guy, so finding dealers wasn’t hard either. Where I had the biggest trouble was finding the right people.”
Shaw has faced a lot of challenges over his tenure, but he faces them all the same way: “Ultimately, you just take it on. Whenever there’s a challenge, you just look at it and say, ‘okay, what can I do about it?’ And you may do it wrong. So, you’ve got to take on your challenge, check your outcomes, and be prepared to make adjustments. That’s the way I approach anything you might call a challenge. Look it square in the eye and take it on, but don’t have a locked-in attitude. I say, if this doesn’t work, let’s do something different – and keep doing that until I get it right.”
Shaw combines this can-do attitude with a deep love for boating and the industry as a whole. “It’s such a lifestyle industry,” he says. “And that makes it so much fun and so easy. It’s a personal, enjoyable experience; when you get on the boat with a customer, they’re excited and they’re having fun. Everybody becomes a friend.”
President, Argos Nautic
Argos Nautic is a relatively young company, but it still endeavors to leave its mark on the industry. The company produces bespoke RIBs, overseeing manufacturing from the very beginning of the design process to when the customer receives their new boat.
Argos Nautic is a familiar name to Boating Industry – in 2018, the Argos Nautic 330 Jet was chosen as a Top Product of the Year. Most recently, Argos Nautic debuted their new Diesel 15 at the 2022 Miami Boat Show. True to its bespoke description, the vessel is customizable down to the height of the console and the materials used in construction.
“We walk our clients through the design process, from choosing colors, fabrics and materials to the steering system and synthetics,” says Ignacio Vadillo, the mastermind behind Argos Nautic. “We only build about a hundred boats per year. We’re a boutique – we can cater to our clients and be very specific.”
Vadillo is a man driven by his passion and creativity. He left Venezuela with his family in 2014, settling in Miami and creating Argos Nautic the very next year. While the products are customer-focused, the company is employee-focused, built around a small and dedicated team of boatbuilders and designers. “Many of us come from a design background, and everyone here is passionate about boating,” Vadillo says.
Through establishing his company in the U.S. anew and all the challenges that Covid-19 brought, Vadillo remained committed to his vision. As pandemic shutdowns swept the nation, Vadillo retained his employees. Now, Argos Nautic moves towards expansion with a complete overhaul of its factory production, shifting from traditional multiple assembly lines to a single mixed-model line with specialized workstations. As productivity increases, the company expands into new, international markets in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Hong Kong.
Pushing data forward
Chief Technology Officer, Siren Marine
Siren Marine is on the cutting edge of innovation, so it’s no wonder that the company’s chief technology officer constantly stays ahead of the curve. Joseph is at the center of the Connected Boat experience and is the brains behind the creation of the Siren 3 Pro IoT device, a product that connects boaters to their vessels via the cellular network and cloud infrastructure.
Siren Marine offers boat monitoring systems that include app-based boat location and tracking, intrusion detection, reporting of engine parameters and abnormal conditions as well as control over systems on the boat.
Joseph was hired in 2018 and tasked with developing what would become the Siren 3 Pro. Challenges along the way included assembling the right engineering team, selection of strategic partners and identifying appropriate technologies. Supply chain woes that have plagued the industry also presented as a recurring obstacle. “I have been fortunate to have made deep connections within the tech industry during my career,” says Joseph. “It’s not always easy to get the attention of large silicon companies when you’re viewed as a small, high-risk startup. Developing and nurturing personal relationships pays its dividends in spades when facing situations like this. We were able to leverage the expertise and resources of many large corporations and virtually expand our engineering team.”
In Dec. 2021, the company was acquired by Yamaha, allowing for rapid expansion off the heels of a windfall in resources. “Exciting times lie ahead for Siren with Yamaha’s talent and resources behind us,” Joseph says. “We were previously able to achieve much on a shoestring budget and staff. What Yamaha brings to the table is a dream come true for any engineering department. Yamaha’s reputation helps with credibility when dealing with component suppliers, distributors, and reps. The challenges are now less on gaining attention within the industry but more on adding the right product features and sophistication, meeting volume forecast demands while continuously looking to improve product quality and production throughout.”