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2016 WSIA Summit Recap

Matt Bishop, Matt Mueller, Don Wallace, Matt Borisch, Aaron Grace


In a departure from tradition, the WSIA Summit found itself in a warmer climate this year, as San Diego hosted the top gathering of towed water sports industry members on February 29 – March 1, 2016 at Paradise Point Resort.

Those who made the trip were greeted by perfect Southern California weather for the entirety of the Summit and were engaged in numerous ways including breakout seminars, committee meetings, networking events, keynote presentations and the 2016 Leadership Awards ceremony.

General Assembly: 2016 WSIA Summit

The change from a snow resort location lent itself to a new scheduling of valuable breakout groups and workshops. Without the competition of hustling for an early lift line or trying to squeeze in “one last run,” all the Summit attendees easily got into the California laid-back approach, with well-attended breakout meetings and a fresh-off-the-water mindset after an activity session scheduled at the historic Mission Bay Aquatic Center.

Mission Bay Aquatic Center

A great deal of useful information was conveyed during the dozen seminars that took place over two days. Most notably, the #PassTheHandle initiative, led by Zane Schwenk, grew even more legs heading into its third season, generating monetary pledges from 18 companies, totaling over $4,000. These funds will be used in promoting #PassTheHandle in 2016 on Sunday, July 24.

Growing participation was another key initiative, and the Towed Water Sports Wave Energy Study was also discussed, which will serve as a valuable tool to challenge threats to waterway access, especially involving wakesurfing and ballasted boats.

Keynote speaker Michael Marckx

One of the most anticipated events each year is the Summit’s keynote presentation, and this year was no different. Michael Marckx has left an indelible mark on the action sports world with Ocean Pacific, Surfrider Foundation and Spy Optic and his marketing brilliance is highly sought after. Currently he is the CDO of Creative Disruption where he perpetuates his mantra of connecting with the culture of the consumer as well as the culture within the walls of the company itself. He stressed not to simply push more SKU’s onto the market, but instead to push who you are, how you are just like your prospective consumer, and that authenticity is paramount when earning and connecting with brand loyalists. He also pointed out an often overlooked relationship within each companies corporate walls: the connection between human resources and employees. Marckx was emphatic when he said you must have the right people with the right demeanor marketing your product in a beneficial way. His message and intent were supported by hilarious, anecdotal stories from his own experience and visual examples in his presentation that were provocative, edgy and powerful.

Joe & Pam Fedorko

Joe and Pam Fedorko along with Tim Kane, continued their effort in growing boating safety awareness, fueled by the loss of their daughter Emily to a tragic tubing accident. Emily is honored on the back cover of WSIA’s new Towed Water Sports Handbook. More at

The Summit concluded with the annual WSIA Leadership Awards, recognizing the top industry performances in eight categories including additions for, “Parasail Operator of the Year” and “Wake Park of the Year.” Hosted by Jeff Barton, each finalist was recognized and the winners were honored on stage. CLICK HERE for the results.

Previous to the ceremony, WSIA president John Archer named Kevin Michael as the new Executive Director of the WSIA. More on that HERE.

Words: Jeff Barton / Photos: Joey Meddock



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