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40 Under 40

By Adam Quandt

40 young professionals leading the pack in the boating industry

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

This year’s group features incredible representatives from all segments of the marine industry from boat dealers to manufacturers and everything in between.

The industry professionals below were selected for their multitude of accomplishments so far, as well as the promise seen in them to continue pushing the industry forward.

 

Scott Berry
Director, Engineering Standards, National Marine Manufacturers Association

What first drew you to the marine industry?

The product. Some of the best childhood memories I have are spending time on the water with family at Indian Lake in Ohio.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

The opportunity I’ve been given to support boat manufacturers in providing safe products to the end users ensuring they have an enjoyable experience to create those same memories. 

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

I’ve been blessed to have worked with several great and very knowledgeable people over the past 18 years in the industry. I have worked with Dave Marlow (Director, Government Affairs for Brunswick Boat Group) since 2003. He has been an amazing mentor over the years and I can’t say enough about how appreciative I am of him. In addition, I took my first ABYC Standards class with Clyde Head in 2003. I am now fortunate to have the opportunity to work with and learn from him at NMMA.

Who was your hero as a child?

My father, but Hulk Hogan was a close second.

 

Margaret Boshek
Coastal Engineer, SmithGroup

What first drew you to the marine industry?

Surprisingly, I am not a boater. Nor is my family. However, I’ve always felt at home being near the water so it was no surprise that I would pursue a career which focused on the waterfront. I discovered I had a knack for waterfront design and marina layouts early in my career as a coastal engineer and have not looked back. Marinas are a destination and can take on a lifeforce for the community well beyond boating. I’ve enjoyed watching the shift in how marinas have gone from being parking lots for boats to hubs for community activity and aquatic recreation.

What was your first job?

Very first job was as a cashier in a grocery store. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Very early in my career, I was given the pleasure of designing a mega-yacht facility in Latin America. Though part of a small team, I was responsible for determining the final breakwater and dockage layout that eventually went into the final construction. It was an amazing feeling to see this vision come alive and become its own beautiful scar on the earth, visible in GoogleEarth. I’m most proud of being able to pass my experience and knowledge onto the next generation of engineers and watching their faces comes alive once one of their designs becomes a reality.

 

Ryan Cardella
Operations Manager, East Coast Flightcraft of New England

What was your first job? 

I was washing bottoms of boats at age 14. I’d help with detailing new boats for pre-delivery also.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

Dan “The Boat Man” Lemieux has been there every step of the way. He has shown me the ins and outs, but most importantly, he has taught me to do the right thing always.

Where is your favorite place to go boating?

Lake Winnipesaukee, N.H. Hands down, it is the best place to boat for anyone.

Who was your hero as a child?

I was always in awe of Bill Gates. His creativity and work ethic stuck with me into adulthood.

 

Jason Clemons
Owner/General Manager, Clemons Boats

What first drew you to the marine industry?

As with a lot of boat dealerships, ours is a family dealership, which I grew up around and in. I used to go fishing with my father and his friends at least once a week growing up and started running boats at 3-4 years old. Boating and the dealership have always been a part of me, and it was an easy choice to keep our family business alive and well.

What was your first job?

My first job was here at the dealership staking cement blocks, mowing grass, and driving the stick shift Toyota truck too fast around the lot.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am most proud of our great employees and how hard they work for me. They do a lot of work, and work a ton of hours to ensure our customers are happy. I would say I am most proud of the culture we have created here at the dealership. Making it to the third generation in a small business is hard, and I am thrilled that after 53 years in business, we are still outpacing the market. 

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

I have a few mentors that I have pulled from. My grandfather, Bob Clemons, was a marine industry legend and most definitely taught me a ton about discipline and hard work. He spent many a night at the dealership sleeping on a couch in his suit from the day before only to start all over again! My father, John Clemons, was a second generation owner and taught me a ton about the business in general, and basically taught me most of what I know in the boat business! Duane, John, and David Spader from Spader Business Management are huge influences on our business and myself personally, as most of what we do here is using Spader principles. Lastly, Grant Cardone who has had a massive impact on my mind set and sales strategies. His books and programs have changed my life for the better, and I look to him for inspiration and knowledge on a daily basis.

 

James Dade
Sales Representative, William F. Miller and Associates

What was your first job?

Outside of the marine industry it was cutting grass in the neighborhood and scooping ice cream at Baskin-Robbins as a young teenager.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Graduating from the United States Naval Academy and serving in the military, and Department of Defense.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

Joe Miller, whose parents founded William F. Miller and Associates, mentors the younger generation of William F. Miller and Associates. I have learned an incredible amount about the marine industry and working with people from Joe, and I am fortunate to have him as a mentor and friend. Undoubtedly, the foundation for my success at my current role can be credited to Joe.

Where is your favorite place to go boating?

In Venice, Fla.; in the Gulf of Mexico or up and down the intercoastal with my mom and step-dad.

 

Shawn Darling
Owner/General Manager, Recreation Station, Inc.

What first drew you to the marine industry?

I honestly didn’t grow up around boating. We never had a family boat, or spent time on any. I have a background in motorsports, riding and racing off-road motorcycles as a youth. I never had the option of spending much time on the water until I went to college and worked part time for a small boat dealership. Our passion for watersports has really developed over the last decade as my wife, Kelsie, and I have raised our children around boating.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Besides my family, it would definitely be starting at age 21 at ground zero (without a dollar to my name or a rich uncle to borrow from), building a dealership from a 2,500-square-foot tin box into a nearly 17,000-square-foot brand new facility, creating secure jobs for some excellent staff, and representing hand-picked quality brands, all for the fun and enjoyment of our awesome customers.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

I have always loved watching entrepreneurs work. One owned a motorsports dealership and was always willing to give me one-liner advice, and another was my best friend’s father, who was a serial entrepreneur and very successful. I can’t fail to mention a group of female professors at Black Hills State University who recommended me for an entrepreneurial scholarship which allowed me a chance to work directly with each of them in their areas of expertise to develop a business plan with complete financials; that plan was called “Making Waves” about a business called Recreation Station.

 

Josh Delforge
VP of Design and Engineering, Marquis Yachts

What first drew you to the marine industry?

My after-college plans were focused on the aerospace industry with hopes of becoming an astronaut, but that did not work out. I started as a designer at Carver knowing very little about boats. At the time it was just a job, but my manager at the time said that once boating gets into your blood you can’t get it out and that is something that I can attest to today.

What was your first job?

My first job in high school was as summer janitorial help for my high school. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Professionally I am most proud of the engineering group we’ve put together here at Marquis. Our team has done some amazing projects that have made a huge impact on the success of our company. Being part of the re-birth of the Carver line has been really special. To see that line be successful and able to carry our company is certainly something that our engineering team is very proud of.

What boat did you learn to boat on?

A 16-foot open-bottom aluminum Mirro Craft with a 25hp Johnson outboard. We used to live right on Green Bay and spent a lot of time fishing in that boat. One of the highlights of my young boating career was being able to drive it by myself while in Canada during a houseboat fishing trip after I had completed boater safety.

 

Deniz Doolin
AVP Regulatory Compliance, Star brite, Inc.

What first drew you to the marine industry?

My great-grandfather was a judge in the Turkish Navy, and my grandfather was a submarine officer, so my family was always close to the water. My dad grew up boating. When I was born with blue eyes, they decided to name me Deniz, which means “the sea” in Turkish. I guess you could say the marine industry chose me.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I was given the opportunity to grow and develop the regulatory department at Star brite, while simultaneously being pregnant and pursuing my Masters in Business.

Who was your hero as a child?

My grandfather, who hand-drafted intricate blueprints for his book on the engine maintenance of submarines. He spent almost his entire life at sea.

 

Becca Doyle
Show Manager, National Marine Manufacturers Association

What was your first job?

Though I worked a variety of jobs throughout high school and college, my most memorable experience was working at Ace Hardware my sophomore and junior years of high school. 

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

I owe a huge thanks to the entire team at NMTA, as they really got me on my feet and moving in this industry. They provided me with many valuable opportunities and experiences, and also sparked my interest in marine industry sales, marketing, and event production. When I moved back home to St. Louis and began working with Mark Adams at NMMA, I really began to dive deeper into the intricacies of event production. Mark really believed in me and my ability to excel, and I am forever grateful for his guidance and support.

What boat did you learn to boat on?

My aunt’s 1978 14-foot Chrysler Dagger.

Where is your favorite place to go boating?

Whitefish Bay in Door County, Wis. I spent a few weeks there every summer for the first 25 years of my life. Our family trips there are now few and far between, but I will always cherish my memories of sailing, kayaking, and cruising on waverunners around the waters of Whitefish Bay.

 

Elliott Falls
Sales Executive/Harbormaster, Jefferson Beach Yacht Sales

What first drew you to the marine industry?

My father grew up an avid water skier and my mother a competitive swimmer. Naturally, they brought my brother and me to the lake at a very early age. I was driving boats before I drove a car. Spending my summers growing up on Lake Charlevoix, I was always fascinated by our local waters, cruising, and the way it connects us to mother nature and her forces. I feel most at home on the water and cruising our Great Lakes.

What was your first job?

My first job was pumping gas and selling ice on Lake Charlevoix at a marina and restaurant called the Landings. I was 15 or 16 years old and having the time of my life on the docks, sleeves rolled up, working hard for tips and high fives from the local boaters. 

Who was your hero as a child?

My dad has always been my biggest hero. The lessons I learned about responsibility, hard work, and family could not be measured. As I entered the job market, he taught me that determination pays off, never to give up, and to look at the bigger picture and keep striving for a better future. 

 

Roy Finney Jr.
President, The Boat Shop

What was your first job?

Here at The Boat Shop. I started out taking care of the grass and grounds and then moved up to cleaning boats and putting out rentals. My first job outside the family business was giving waterski lessons at a local resort.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Business-wise it is a toss-up. First, I am proud that I was able to take a successful business to a new level by implementing my ideas and personality, all while staying true to its foundation. Second, I was speechless when we were named as the No. 20 dealer in Boating Industry’s Top 100. Above all of this though my biggest accomplishment is my family. I would not be who I am without them and cannot imagine life without my wife, Gretchen, daughter, Alena, and son, Roy III.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

My father, Roy Finney Sr. He is the one who made me fall in love with the water and taught me how to drive a boat, ski, and run a business. I have always idolized him and what he was able to accomplish here and to this day I rarely make a big decision without discussing it with him.

 

Michael Galati
Sarasota Sales Manager, Galati Yacht Sales

What first drew you to the marine industry?

Growing up in a family business that sells and services boats, the marine industry has always been in my life. I grew up attending boat shows, fishing tournaments, and customer boating trips. I have always loved boating and the water.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

My father, Carmine, has without a doubt been my biggest mentor though out my career. It started listening to his business calls in the car as a kid and continued to working as his assistant through high school part time. Today he continues to mentor me in difficult situations. I’m very fortunate to have his guidance in developing my knowledge and skills in my career.

What boat did you learn to boat on?

The first boat I remember operating myself was a 21-foot Triumph my brothers and I had as teenagers. 

 

Ryan Good
Regional Sales Manager, Chaparral and Robalo Boats

What first drew you to the marine industry?

When I started looking for my first job, I decided that I was going to do something every day that I truly loved and enjoyed. The first thing that came to mind was boating. Fast-forward almost 20 years later and I still love being in the boat business just as much as I did on the first day.

What was your first job?

My first job was working the gas dock at Leighton’s Boat House.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

The first was Pat Boyd. Pat owned the dealership where I started my career and he taught me at a young age about the importance of loyalty and following through on commitments. Unfortunately we just recently lost Pat and I will definitely miss him. Next is Buck Pegg, the founder of Chaparral Boats. Buck’s has a strategic vision for the company and incredible leadership skills that get the team support he needs to execute on that vision. Last, but not least, Ann Baldree, vice president of Chaparral and Robalo. Ann’s interpersonal skills are unparalleled which allows her to cultivate strong and meaningful relationships.

What boat did you learn to boat on?

I will never forget that old tri-hull with 70hp Johnson my family had when I was growing up. It wasn’t fancy, but I probably had more fun on that boat than any other boat I have owned.

 

Jake Goodridge
Membership Executive/President, Freedom Boat Club/Yankee Landing Marina

What was your first job?

My first job was unloading and sorting the daily catch at the Yankee Fisherman’s Cooperative in Seabrook, N.H.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Helping introduce hundreds of new families into the boating lifestyle through Freedom Boat Club and being able to purchase Yankee Landing Marina.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

My father has been my boating and business mentor. I have worked alongside him for my entire career.

What boat did you learn to boat on?

A 12-foot Zodiac that had to be continuously filled with air to stay afloat.

 

Shane Grover
Sales & Marketing, Seawind Catamarans & Corsair Marine

What first drew you to the marine industry?

When I first began sailing as a teenager I did not have the money to afford a new or even decent used boat. So instead I purchased a wrecked 12-foot Cherub, stripped it and rebuilt it ready for my first sailing season. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and from there gravitated towards a career in the marine industry.

What was your first job?

I began my career as an apprentice Shipwright working on the production line of Seawind Catamarans.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

In 2010 after Seawind acquired Corsair Marine, I relocated to Vietnam and set up the new factory production lines for Seawinds catamaran production. This was a very challenging transition, which I am happy to say was a huge success and Seawind production has been going strong in Vietnam ever since.

Who was your hero as a child?

I am inspired by the successes and accolades of our world’s entrepreneurs, big and small. As a child I would probably say Sir Richard Branson, he just seems to have it all figured out.

 

Daniel Gutierrez
Chief Operating Officer, Tige Boats

What first drew you to the marine industry?

I have had a passion for boats and watersports since I was a kid. It started with my mom’s passion for it too, she would get up at sunrise with me to go ski and then I added wakeboarding to the morning session as I hit my teens. It has been a huge part of my life as long as I can remember.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

My dad for sure. I grew up in his businesses and he always took the time in work and in life to teach and explain, and he still does today.

Charlie Pigeon, owner and founder of Tige. He is one of the legends in this industry and the first thing he did was trust my ideas. He has spent 15 years showing, teaching and taking the time for my career to evolve.

I am also very grateful that I got into this industry when many of the original influencers were still involved. I have worked with, and made great friendships with, so many of the people that shaped the inboard boat industry long before what it is today.

 

Estephanie Herrera
Business Manager, MarineMax

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Though there are many achievements that I am proud of, the most fulfilling was to become the first to graduate college from my family. It was both a personal accomplishment and a mentoring tool for my younger siblings.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

There are two women in the marine industry that have helped me grow both in my professional career and personal life. Johna Swanson and Gayle Niedenfuer have always believed in me. Through difficult times, they have kept my vision positive. They continue to mentor me and develop me. For them, I am very grateful!

Who was your hero as a child?

My mother is and will always be my hero! She has taught me everything that I know and everything that I represent. She has helped me become an independent woman by smiling in front of adversity and has instilled in me the ability to always believe in what I can accomplish. I hope to continue making her proud.

 

Jacob Kuck
North American Sales Manager, Regal Marine Industries

What first drew you to the marine industry?

I would be hard pressed not to say that it was the family business, but once you get the water bug I’m not sure you can ever go back. I truly believe that boating enhances people’s life and am grateful to work in the marine industry.

Where is your favorite place to go boating?

My favorite place to boat is in the Bahamas, specifically the Abacos. The whole island lifestyle revolves around boating, and nothing beats that clear blue Bahamian water.

Who was your hero as a child?

My grandfather. He was born on the small island of Man–O–War, and his commitment to hard work and love of family is something that will always stick with me.

 

Dustin Lacefield
Operations Manager, Watersports Marine

What first drew you to the marine industry?

I was lucky enough to be raised in the industry. My great-grandparents opened Bohner Boat and Marine in 1939. Then, my parents purchased the company from my grandfather in the ‘90s. Many of my earliest memories were made on the water, at the dealership or while attending dealer meetings and conferences.

What was your first job?

Washing boats at my family’s dealership. I must have been 10 or 12 years old.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

There are many, but of course my parents, Kim and Donnie Lacefield, who provided my brothers and I the first opportunity to work in boating; our late grandfather, Jim Bohner; my brothers, Ryan and Jared; the group I will call the “Cancun Crew,” which consisted of a group of boating industry families, including Don Galey, Danny Wullenweber, Richard Strickler, Lou Stiner, and Pat Stevens, among others; Stuart Litjens and Dan Lee at Boulder Boats.

 

Laine Levandowski
Service/Shop Foreman, Charlotte Ski Boats

What first drew you to the marine industry?

I grew up in a boating community, learned from my older brother’s love of boating (owner of Charlotte Ski Boats), and embraced the boating industry as a life career.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

My brother, Lee Levandowski, he guided me with tough love, perseverance, and integrity to where I am today.

Who was your hero as a child?

My grandfather, Sam. He taught many life-long lessons that have been pivotal in my life. We spent together wrenching in the barn and helping him on the farm have shaped me into who I am today – great times and memories.

 

Michael Longman
Assistant Marketing Manager, SeaDek Marine Products

What was your first job?

Stock boy at the Melbourne Beach Supermarket.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

Dave Clark of Dr. Dave’s Outboard Repair really taught me the nuts and bolts of boats and motors, which gave me a solid knowledge base to succeed in the industry. At SeaDek, guidance from Jason Gardner and Chuck Yates has been invaluable.

Who was your hero as a child?

My surrogate grandfather, a WWII Navy vet and career Coast Guard officer. He was the kindest and most non-judgmental person I have ever known.

 

Matt Mabe
Sales Manager, Boats Unlimited Wilmington, N.C.

What first drew you to the marine industry?

My love of the water. Ever since I was a kid, all I wanted to do is be on or near the water and talk about boats.

What was your first job?

Ticket booth at a boat ramp on a lake where I grew up.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

Yes. Robbie and Jeff Yow, owners of Chatlee Boat & Marine in Sanford, N.C. Also, Mr. Kay Crocker, who owned Crocker’s Marine in Wrightsville Beach, N.C.

 

AJ Mast
Owner/Service Manager, The Boathouse at Grand Lake

What first drew you to the marine industry?

My grandfather owned a marina where I worked part time. I also grew up on a lake where I was able to spend a lot of free time on the water.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

The mentor with the greatest impact on my career has been Curt Reiff. He has shared an invaluable amount of knowledge, not only in the marine industry but in life as well. I am eternally grateful for everything that he taught me about becoming a marine technician.

Who was your hero as a child?

Growing up, I always looked up to my grandfather. He shared an incredible amount of knowledge with me, including how to run a successful business.

 

Karsten McIntosh
Director of Communications, Marketing, Northwest Marine Trade Association

What was your first job?

Washing cars. In high school, I would wash cars, paint houses, and work at summer camps in my spare time.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Professionally, I am most proud of the collective accomplishments myself and my team have made to continue to grow the Seattle Boat Show. Every year, against more and more challenges it seems, we find ways to improve the attendee experience, success of exhibitors, and fun for us! From adding a third on-water location to the show last year, to coming up with exciting and beneficial promotions for attendees, awesome creative campaigns, and now running our own digital advertising “agency” in-house for our member businesses, I am proud of our desire to always push the envelope.

Who was your hero as a child?

My grandmother, Edith. Most of my fondest childhood memories involve her. She taught me so much.

 

John Meyer
Lead Technician, Woodland Marine

What was your first job?

First job was a truck washer/farm hand.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

My three instructors from college; Mark, Mike, and Duke at Alexandria Tech.

What boat did you learn to boat on?

My grandfather’s 1995 Sylvin Sea Troller.

Who was your hero as a child?

My mother.

What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies?

I love to snowmobile, hunt, and fish.

 

Matt Mueller
President/Owner, Minnesota Inboard Water Sports

What first drew you to the marine industry?

Our family always had a passion for skiing! We owned a 1985 Mastercraft Pro Star 190 Stars & Stripes. My dad started helping out at boat shows in the late ‘80s and was soon hired as the sales manager for the local Mastercraft dealership. In 1992 my parents started Minnesota Inboard. The moment I had my first sales conversation at a boat show I was instantly hooked. The marine industry has been my life for as long as I can remember.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Winning every National Sales Person of the Year Malibu has given out from 2014 – 2018 has been incredible, but I think my wife Michelle and I being able to position ourselves to purchase the family business at the age of 36 was something greater.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

There are so many people that have had an impact in my career, but there are three that made the most impact on developing who I am today! My dad, Joe Mueller, who has taught me so much. My wife, Michelle, who has never let me get comfortable and has always pushed me to be great and want more. Finally, Paul Singer who used to work our boat show every year. Watching and learning from him is what allowed me to gain confidence and become comfortable selling to anyone.

 

Matt O’Hara
Owner, Freedom Boat Club Lake George

What first drew you to the marine industry?

Many of my favorite memories throughout my life have taken place on boats, and when my wife and I decided we were going to relocate from city life in Boston to upstate New York, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to make a living doing something we are passionate about. She spent her whole life boating on Lake George, and I had worked with Freedom Boat Club franchises in my previous career. As I got to see the growing demand for hassle-free boating, it seemed like a no brainer for Lake George so we connected the dots and went full steam ahead into the boating industry.

What was your first job?

My first job was working as a cashier at an A&P supermarket. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Enabling families and friends who otherwise would not be boating to experience the boating lifestyle and create memories that will last a lifetime. That event occurs all season long but feels like an accomplishment every time. I am also very proud to call my wife my business partner and together we are proud of successfully creating a family business that our daughters think is cool.

 

Michele O’Hara
Director of Accounting, Candlewood East Marina

What first drew you to the marine industry?

Growing up on the lake where my family lives and watching the family business grow, I always knew that this would be more than just a summer hobby or pastime. Almost all of my favorite memories come from being on the water or at our club. I am looking forward to a long career working with my parents and family at the marina.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

My biggest accomplishment so far has been restructuring the accounting department at Candlewood East to make it a more efficient and positive environment. I am also very proud to be a part of the Connecticut Marine Trade Association Board of Directors working to service the boating community in Connecticut.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

Personally, my biggest influences are my four sisters. They all continually push me to become a better person and keep me well grounded. Professionally the biggest influences and mentors I have are the members of the David Parker Cobalt 20 Group I am a part of. I’m very lucky to have been given such an amazing opportunity to learn from industry leaders and to be able to call these people my friends.

 

Brian Obolewicz
Category Manager: Electronics, Navigation and Scuba, West Marine

What was your first job?

In high school, I was a caddy at Meriden Hills Country Club. After college, I started as an assistant buyer at The Sports Authority.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Taking over the largest category at West Marine and implementing some new strategies that resulted in double-digit growth. I worked closely with key vendors to strategically focus and grow our audio offerings. High-end audio sales increased by 50 percent in 2018, and I hope these negotiations with key vendors to create new packages and offerings will have a major impact on the future of our relationships within the marine community.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

My neighbor growing up, Steve Fife, was the VP of Merchandising at Galyan’s. He introduced me to sporting goods retail and helped get me an internship while I was in college. He is always available to go to for advice or to bounce ideas off of.

 

Alex Puskar
Regional Sales Manager-Northeast, Siren Marine

What first drew you to the marine industry?

What first drew me to the marine industry was my passion for fishing and the outdoors. Realizing I can talk boating and fishing with other like-minded individuals in this tight knit industry was a win-win.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

I would have to say Dan Harper. Forward thinking and risk taking is why Siren Marine has blossomed into the company that it is today. He gave me shot right out of school that has allowed me to grow into the position I am in today.

What boat did you learn to boat on?

A 1999 Grady White 180 Sportsman.

Who was your hero as a child?

I would have to say my grandfather who was a successful defense attorney and judge. His passion for not only fishing but also his career installed the idea in me to take the road less traveled to get to where you want to be.

 

Hayes Ragan
Sales Representative, William F. Miller and Associates

What first drew you to the marine industry?

I grew up around boats starting at a very young age. When I realized there was such great opportunity for a career in the marine industry, I didn’t hesitate to jump at the opportunity to get involved.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am most proud of being a key part of our company’s push for the next generation of marine professionals. I am very proud of multiple sales awards I have been given over the last few years and the growing respect I continue to earn among my customers, factories and peers.

What boat did you learn to boat on?

I learned to boat on my father’s Cheetah Ski Boat.

 

Tim Stiene
Category Manager: Engine, Electrical and Boats & Motors, West Marine

What first drew you to the marine industry?

I spent summers as a kid fishing, surfing and wake boarding the south shore of Long Island, NY. As a teenager, I was lucky enough to fish on the famous L&H out of Key Biscayne with my uncle Rick in several billfish tournaments. These experiences sparked my love for all things boating and a life spent on and around the water.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

Steve Miller, a fellow Category Manager here at West Marine, he has been with the company for over 34 years. I was his assistant earlier in my career and I still find myself asking him for advice and guidance in my current role. He is retiring this year and his wisdom and industry knowledge will be missed by all of our associates.

Who was your hero as a child?

My grandfather, Jim Ginty. He was a NYC fireman for 34 years and was one of the founders of the Emerald Society Pipe and Drum band. He was the patriarch of our family and instilled strong moral values and a hard work ethic on all of his children and grandchildren.

 

Garret Strol
Marina Manager, Gerard’s Waters Edge Marina

What was your first job?

I have been working since I was about 7, washing boats, gassing boats up, and helping in other areas of the marina. 

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

My parents are still to this day my biggest influencers in all aspects of my life but especially when it comes to running the family business. My father was the hardest working man and would do anything for his customers and his family. My mother is a highly educated woman who paved her way through the marine industry knowing everything from the business side to running the parts department all while managing our dockage and storage customers and raising three kids. Seeing the love my parents have for boats and boating really encourages me daily to keep the love alive.

What boat did you learn to boat on?

My first boat ride was at just two weeks old, and the first boat I drove alone was when I was 8. It was a Zodiac with a Mercury 9.9hp.

 

Ryan Swaims
Director of Marketing, Chaparral and Robalo Boats

What was your first job?

My first professional job was as a store manager for Waldenbooks.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am most proud of producing the boating industry’s first award winning virtual reality product simulator and digital test drive system–//DRIVR.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

The entire executive team at Chaparral and Robalo Boats has been an amazing resource for expertise, know-how, and overall support. Bill Pegg, Senior VP of Chaparral and Robalo, has been a key mentor since day one – always there with an encouraging word, direction, or advice. In addition, Ann Baldree, Senior VP of Chaparral and Robalo, has played a vital role in challenging my growth in the company, while offering helpful insight into our company and the boating industry overall.

 

Nick Troche
Director of New Product Development, Seakeeper

What first drew you to the marine industry?

I grew up sailing on Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York, just a few miles from Lake Erie to the north and the Pennsylvania state line to the south. I learned how to sail early in life and spent every summer of my youth devoted to sailing. Eventually, I became a certified sailing instructor and my passion for boating grew more and more as I got older. It was just before college that I decided I wanted to work in the marine industry and did what I could to get myself there.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

When I first started with Seakeeper, my desk was one of two desks in a commercial garage with a boat. We were essentially a startup. Chris Blohm was one of my managers, and I credit him with essentially taking the speed governor off of me. He gave me high-level tasks and really pushed me to figure the answers out on my own. He was probably the hardest manager I’ve ever worked for but gave me all the tools I needed to excel in my role.

What boat did you learn to boat on?

I learned powerboating on a small, 15-foot Boston Whaler on Chautauqua Lake. 

Who was your hero as a child?

My dad was always my hero – just because he was my dad. I think a lot of young boys grow up aspiring to be like their fathers, and everything he did impressed me. I ended up in an entirely different industry than he was in, but I remember setting up a desk next to him as a kid and pretending to work all day so I could feel important like he was in my eyes.

 

Amanda Ward
Campaign and Web Content Manager, MarineMax

What was your first job?

My very first job was in middle school in Indiana as a corn detassler. It was hard, hot work, but I finished the whole summer and went back again the next summer for more. I like to think it taught me early on to work hard and finish the job.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Being part of the 40 Under 40 is definitely an accomplishment! I am also proud of how I’ve grown personally and professionally over the last two years. I feel I have a much better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses and when to focus on each to further improve myself.

Where is your favorite place to go boating?

We live in Tampa Bay and I love the diversity of boating it offers–cruising the intracoastal, anchoring up at islands and sand bars, going out into the Gulf, lunch or dinner by boat, fishing and more. In the fall and spring, we like to boat on the Alafia River (off Tampa Bay) up to its spring. It’s a completely different experience than boating in the Gulf. Each weekend we plan a new adventure in the Tampa area.

 

Patrick Weiss
Technical Sales, Progressive Sales

What first drew you to the marine industry?

I grew up fishing with my dad on Lake Michigan. In high school and college I always managed to find jobs around boats including cleaning boats, working at a marina and first mating. I guess growing up boating became a part of my life and what eventually lured me into the marine industry.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

I had a few. My boss at the marina I worked at during my college summers taught me a ton of work and life lessons. I don’t think he knew it, but I absorbed so much of what he taught me when it comes to work ethic and confidence in managing stressful situations. I also have two older brothers that I always looked up to and still use them as my consultants to this day when big decisions are on the horizon.

Who was your hero as a child?

As I read this question the answer was easy–Michael Jordan. I was that kid that wanted to be like Mike. Today I still watch Michael Jordan highlight videos on YouTube with my girls to show them how great he was and how hard he worked to become the greatest. He is the perfect example proving that no one is born great and that greatness comes through hard work.

 

Howard Wessells III
Vice President – Marine Dealer Finance, Shore Premier Finance

What first drew you to the marine industry?

I grew up on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, which is a small peninsula stretching approximately 70 miles long, 5- to 12-miles wide and situated between the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. This area is indented with an almost countless succession of creeks, inlets and estuaries, in which the finest oysters in the world grow. Growing up here, I was surrounded by water and boats, so it was only natural for me to gravitate towards a career in the marine industry.

What was your first job?

I was 16 and I was a lifeguard at the local Yacht and Country Club.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

My parents! My work ethic, leadership skills, determination, honesty and thirst for knowledge were all learned through watching them. Both my father and mother led by example with a selfless and caring nature while always holding us accountable for our actions. They instilled a sense of responsibility, respect, and love from a very young age and have continued to every day of my life.

 

Mark Wyrick
Marketing Manager, Brunswick Fort Wayne Operations (Harris & Cypress Cay Pontoons)

What first drew you to the marine industry?

I was very fortunate having parents who love to spend their free time at the lake and on the water. Growing up, we spent every summer at the lake where I learned different water sports with my friends and ultimately joined a water ski show club. Through my college years, I worked for Bart’s Watersports, an online watersports retailer, and skied competitively in 3-event tournaments for Purdue University. During my sophomore year of college, I was introduced to the marketing team at Harris/Kayot as wakeboard talent for their catalog photo shoot and kept in touch, ultimately landing a job with Brunswick in Fort Wayne, Ind.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Teaching kids how to water ski or learn a new trick for the first time in the show ski club I belong to. It’s very rewarding when you get to see the excitement they have.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

I have had many great mentors and influences from both inside and outside of the boating industry over the years. My former manager, Jane Schlegel, really influenced me the most and aided my career development through her leadership and guidance.

 

Leah Yam
Director of Communications, Marine Group Boat Works, LLC

What was your first job?

The Golden Donut shop in San Diego has been in my family for over 30 years. Since I was seven years old, I’d wake up at the crack of dawn motivated by the smiles on people’s faces when I served them their donuts and coffee. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

When I first started at MGBW, I was one of 26 employees. Ten years later, I’m one of 200. There’s definitely a sense of accomplishment when you play a key role in fueling that growth.

Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?

I would not be where I am today without my boss Todd Roberts. As president, he leads MGBW with vision, passion and infinite motivation that’s contagious. He challenges me, makes me a better worker and manages by mentoring. I’m a student everyday working for him.

Who was your hero as a child?

Mr. Rogers from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood who taught children to embrace differences, being kind to others and letting curiosity guide you. My family had just immigrated to the U.S. as refugees from Cambodia. I was an easy target to other kids, so I took comfort in watching his shows and practicing what he preached.  

 

2 comments

  1. Leah Yam is amazing!

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