The NMMA honored Carl Blackwell, the NMMA, and Joe Lewis, Mount Dora Boating Center & Marina, with the 2020 Charles Chapman Award, most notably for their leadership as Grow Boating president and chairman, respectively, dedicating their careers to getting new boaters on the water and helping guide new boaters into boat ownership. The Chapman Award recognizes individuals or groups within the marine industry who have made outstanding contributions to the sport of boating for the benefit of the recreational boating industry and boating public. The award was presented during the annual Miami Boat Show Innovation Breakfast, presented by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation.
“Carl and Joe have devoted their entire careers to bettering the boating industry and community. Their shared vision and commitment have been instrumental in helping to grow and improve the future of recreational boating in this country. I am honored to present them with the 2020 Charles Chapman Award,” noted Bill Watters, president, Syntec Industries.
“Carl’s marketing expertise and love for life on the water have been instrumental in welcoming millions of people to boating over the course of his 16-year career in the industry,” continued Watters. “His leadership at NMMA and industry-wide marketing efforts have shifted and elevated how our entire industry markets boating to new and existing customers, reminding us all along the way not to lose sight that what we are selling is the joy boating brings to everyone.”
Carl Blackwell joined the NMMA as Chief Marketing Officer in September 2003. In his 16 years with NMMA, Blackwell oversaw 275 boat show marketing plans and helped turn the NMMA marketing department into one of the best marketing teams in recreational boating and in the association world.
He helmed the launch of the first Discover Boating national marketing campaign in 2006, as well as each of the subsequent 14 campaigns. The first campaign included national cable television advertising, ads in Time magazine, Sports Illustrated and other national publications, a new DiscoverBoating.com website, a consumer DVD geared to generate leads and comprehensive public relations outreach.
Blackwell also led Discover Boating’s first major Facebook campaign which resulted in a prestigious Effie award for the best advertising campaign on a small budget in 2010. Under his guidance, the Discover Boating Facebook page grew to become the largest Facebook community for recreational boating in the world.
In July 2011, Blackwell was appointed President of Grow Boating, Inc., which manages the industry-funded Discover Boating Campaign in the United States and Canada. Discover Boating marketing efforts led by Blackwell and his team have been instrumental in welcoming new boaters to the water. Four to five million consumers—new and prospective boaters—visit the Discover Boating websites annually, which in turn leads to two to three million visits to boat manufacturer websites each year.
Blackwell’s efforts were also integral in establishing comprehensive data-driven marketing learnings to help advance the entire industry by growing sales and participation, including landmark research on first-time boat buyers, and the industry’s first-ever research aimed at understanding boat club members and renters.
Previously, Blackwell spent eight years with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association as Executive Director of Marketing best known for its “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” marketing campaign. He also has worked in various marketing and public relations capacities for General Mills, Little Caesars, Dean Foods, and Bentley Barnes and Lynn Advertising.
Blackwell graduated with honors from St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana with a Bachelor of Science in Management. He grew up in southern Indiana near Lake Monroe, where he enjoyed the water on several family and friends’ boats. He currently docks his boat at Diversey Harbor in Chicago.
“Joe has gone above and beyond leading Grow Boating efforts for our industry, working tirelessly not only on his own thriving business, but also on several initiatives that will keep our industry in business and boaters on the water for future generations to come,” said Watters. “Joe is a leading example of putting the greater good ahead of one’s personal gain, which is why he is so deserving of the Charles Chapman Award.”
Joe Lewis, owner and general manager of Mount Dora Boating Center & Marina, has been active in boating and fishing organizations in and around his community for more than thirty years. He has worked tirelessly on behalf of the industry, spending countless days away from his business at industry meetings, producing Discover Boating commercials and speaking on behalf of the campaign.
Lewis ended a twenty-year career in the outdoor power equipment industry when he moved to Florida and purchased the Mount Dora Boating Center & Marina, a dealership and full-service marina. In the thirty years since, he’s raised the bar on sales and service; his dealership is routinely ranked as among the best in the country at providing an outstanding buying and ownership experience and has earned a Marine Industry 5-Star Certified designation.
Lewis was chairman of Grow Boating from 2011 to 2019 and is currently serving as past chair. He served as chair of the Marine Industry Associations of Florida, Marine Industry Association of Central Florida and currently serves on the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation Board. He’s been an industry representative on the Governor’s Boating Advisory Council for the state of Florida, and a Regional Director for the Marine Retailers of the Americas.
Lewis was honored with the MIAF Admiral Award and MIASF Anchor Award in 2003, inducted into the MRAA Retailers Hall of Fame in 2007, received the MRAA Irv Rosenthal Award in 2012 and the Lake County Community Service Award in 2011.
Mount Dora Boating Center & Marina was named Business of the Year in 2016 by the Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce and is well-known for its annual holiday display which boasts more than one million lights and draws thousands to the waterfront in Mount Dora every year. His business was recognized with the Four Winns Commander Award 2001 through 2007, earned Four Winns C.S.I Awards in 2006 and 2007, and was in the Boat Industry Top 100 2005 through 20011. It was the Lake County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year in 2010 and earned a Monterey C.S.I Award in 2014.
Lewis was born and raised in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. He and his wife Susan have a son, Joey (Jay) and a daughter, Julia and grandson, Connor. When he’s not at work, chances are you’ll find Joe boating with his family or scuba diving with his son.