The NMMA honored Bill Watters, President of Syntec Industries, with the 2020 Alan J. Freedman Memorial Leadership Award, which recognizes individuals who’ve made outstanding contributions to the marine accessories industry through leadership, creativity and personal motivation. The award was presented during the annual Miami Boat Show Innovation Breakfast, presented by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation.
“Bill Watters has been a driving force in the marine industry for decades,” noted Buck Pegg, Founder, Chaparral Boats, Inc. “He has never lost site of the importance of customers and employees at Syntec, and more often than not, his customers become vendor partners and trusted friends – a recipe for success. His service over the years to our industry has been paramount, and I’m proud to honor him with this well-deserved Freedman Award.”
Bill attended the University of Georgia and graduated with a degree in Agricultural Engineering. Upon graduation, he began working at his father’s yarn manufacturing company, Integrated Products. He began selling yarn to Sea Ray, and after attending Marketing Days at the Miami Boat Show and IMTEC in Chicago, realized there was a great potential for carpet sales in the marine industry.
In 1986, he and his brothers Tom, Thad and Joe formed Syntec Industries and began selling carpet to the marine industry. Syntec has been a major supplier to the marine industry ever since. He brought innovative products to market and set trends for boat builders that positively influenced boat sales.
Thanks to Bill’s forward thinking, the company has weathered economic downturns and kept up with industry trends by diversifying its product lineup and expanding into other OEM markets, including the RV industry in the 90s, and the manufactured housing and multi-family markets in 2000 and 2009, respectively.
Bill has always freely given his time and energy to the industry and has long been an ardent supporter of NMMA. He’s served in multiple roles on the MACD, NMMA, Grow Boating and MLA Boards, including Chairman of each. He’s also been AMD Chair- and Vice Chairperson, and a member of the Recreational Boating Leadership Council. To help expose boat builders to the best suppliers in the marine industry, Bill has also been a driving force behind IBEX, and has served as IBEX Planning Committee Chairperson.
Bill also gives back to his community with his time, energy and financial support. He supports multiple youth groups, local organizations and charities in his hometown of Rome, Georgia, including the Darlington School Board, YMCA, Jaycees, Boy Scouts of America, Floyd Healthcare Foundation, Kiki’s Kids, Coosa Valley Soil & Water Conservancy & Development and the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission, to name just a few.
Bill and his wife Judy also own Oakdale Farms, and raise Black Angus Cattle. While both are Master Cattlemen, Judy oversees the day-to-day operations of the farm. Bill works on the farm evenings and weekends. They have two children, Will and Landon.