Boating Industries Association of Upstate New York receives 2014 Bill Ferguson Award

MINNEAPOLIS, December 5, 2014 — The Boating Industries Association of Upstate New York was recently honored with the 2014 Bill Ferguson Award, which recognizes outstanding service by a marine trades association to its members and the boating business as a whole. The award was presented to BIA executive director Barb Caster Wednesday, Nov. 19 during the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo Awards Breakfast at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Fla.

“This year’s award recipient is an association that’s near and dear to my heart,” says Liz Walz, director of education for the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas. “BIA may be small in terms of the region it encompasses, but it’s tremendous in terms of the service it provides to its 80-plus members. The group is active in state-level politics, puts on an impressive boat show each year, works tirelessly to promote and advocate for safe boating, and goes above and beyond to support member education.”

BIA puts on one of the largest boat shows in the State of New York, encompassing more than 250,000 square feet of exhibit space and distributing profits from the event among the exhibitors. The association is active at the state level, with several members serving on the state association’s board of directors and participating in lobbying efforts in the state capital. In terms of education, BIA works to provide a breadth of opportunities to its members, including sponsoring members to attend the MDCE, hosting a Marine Retail University, and partnering with Sea Grant to offer member training.

Perhaps one of BIA’s crowning achievements, however, has been the Discover Clean & Safe Boating campaign, developed in 2008 through yet another partnership with the state’s Sea Grant Program. Each year, a different type of vessel serves as the Clean and Safe Boat, travelling across the state to boat shows, farm days, fairs and festivals with all the required and recommended equipment necessary for clean, safe and lawful boating on board. Through the program, more than half a million boaters at more than 50 events have been educated about how to be legal, safe and environmentally friendly on state waters.

“These are just a few of the myriad ways the Boating Industries Association of Upstate New York provides outstanding value to its members and helps bolster the marine industry overall,” adds Walz.

When MRAA was originally founded, the then-executive director of the Marine Trades Association of Metropolitan Houston, Bill Ferguson, served as its first executive director. Ferguson served in this position in return for a $1 annual salary, helping to get MRAA off the ground and providing it great expertise.

In 1986, MRAA created The Bill Ferguson Award in his honor and began presenting it to the marine trades association that does the most in a given year to support its constituents.

Recent past recipients include: The Marine Trades Association of New Jersey (2013 and 2007); Boating Trades Association of Metro Houston (2011); National Marine Trades Council (2009); Marine Industries Association of South Florida (2008); Massachusetts Marine Trades Association (2006); Sacramento Valley Marine Trades Association (2005); New York Marine Trades Association and Lake of the Ozarks Marine Dealer Association (2004); and Marine Industries Association of Florida (2003).

For more information, contact Liz Walz at 315-692-4533 or

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