On February 28, the 2018 WSIA Summit concluded with the Leadership Awards, an annual ceremony that recognizes industry leaders and top performers for the year. With more than 200 attendees, these awards were a highlight of the 2018 Summit and honored the best in the towed water sports industry, on both the retail and manufacturer levels.
Marine Dealership of the Year
Consideration for this first award focused on leading dealerships in the towed water sports industry that have a strong service department, an accommodating showroom for consumers, and merchandising that connects the consumer with what itâ€™s really like to be a part of the towed water sports lifestyle. Dealerships are responsible for connecting the consumer and the manufacturer through sales, knowledge and commitment. Throughout 2018, the team at Boulder Boats did it better than any other.
Boulder Boats co-owners Stuart and Kristina Litjens accepted the award with these words: â€œRising tides float all ships. And that really is the motto thatâ€™s going to make our industry and our sport grow. Itâ€™s amazing to be honored with a Leadership Award. We come here to Summit to be around all you leaders, so thank you all so much.â€
Retail Shop of the Year
The second award of the night recognized pro shops that have distinguished themselves through outstanding product knowledge, creative displays, consumer enthusiasm and promotional ingenuity. These exceptional retailers go out of their way to support the contest scene, facilitate water sports clinics, work with community leadership groups, and grow the sport. This year, the panel narrowed it down to Performance Ski & Surf of Orlando, Florida. Customer service, product knowledge, and most of all, love for the sport are immeasurable from the crew at Performance.
Sales Rep of the Year
This award honors the industry professionals who work tirelessly to educate both consumers and retailers, promote and represent their brands with the utmost enthusiasm, and make a strong impression on everyone they meet. These nominees go above and beyond expectations, and theyâ€™re doing it because they not only love the towed water sports community but also respect the opportunity to connect with partners.
For 2018, the WSIA and former Sales Rep of the Year award winner Adam Wensink were pleased to announce Mark Gibbs as the award winner. After giving thanks to the WSIA, Gibbs acknowledged his team. â€œFor me, anything I have ever accomplished has always been a team effort so I have to thank them first and foremost. I also want to thank the leadership at Centurion and Supreme Boats. What an honor!â€
Camp/School of the Year
This next award recognizes the school or camp that offers multi-level training, knowledgeable staff and instructors, excellent amenities, and support for events, competitions and clinics. This year, The Boarding School from the Orlando, Florida area took home the top honor for their reputable facilities, including a private lake and state-of-the-art wakeboarding and ski boats from MasterCraft.
The founder and head coach Travis Moye is well-known throughout the entire towed water sports industry and has coached countless enthusiasts and athletes alike, all the way from beginner to professional levels for wakeboarding, waterskiing, and wakesurfing.
Wake Park of the Year
Wake parks help eliminate barriers to entry, and they are introducing an exponential amount of new people to the sports of wakeboarding, water skiing and more each year. The individuals and organizations within the community are responsible for helping the industry grow, and this award recognizes the park that has done the best with community outreach and promoting participation growth.
The WSIA was pleased to announce that Action Wake Park in Hudsonville, Michigan, was the front-runner for this award. Itâ€™s clear that the team at Action loves what they do, and they do it well.
Water Sports Innovation Awards
This accolade recognizes industry leaders and their products that have push the towed water sports marketplace to new heights over the past year. Products from various facets of the industry were awarded for 2018.
Congratulations to Roswellâ€™s Triton Strapless Board Racks, Nautiqueâ€™s Integrated Steering Assist, Liquid Forceâ€™s 4D Bindings, Centurion Boatâ€™s Opti-V Hull Design, ZUPâ€™s â€œYou Got Thisâ€ Board, Malibuâ€™s MaxBallast L-Shape Ballast Tank and Plug-n-Play Controls, Cobe Mikacichâ€™s Drop N Fill, and MasterCraftâ€™s XStar Hull System.
Lifetime Achievement Award
This award honors an individual whose career has been dedicated to the progression and promotion of towed water sports. Few have worked as tirelessly at this as Shannon Starling. President of the World Wake Association, Starlingâ€™s passionate pursuit and continuous effort to grow wake sports over the years has been nothing short of amazing. Starling has truly dedicated his life to this industry. Although he was not present to accept the Lifetime Achievement Award, attendees were able to watch Starlingâ€™s pre-recorded acceptance speech while the WWA Executive Director Corrie Wilson accepted the award for him.
The Larry Meddock Award
Conceptualized three years ago, this award is one of the most anticipated and among the highest of honors in the entire industry. The Larry Meddock Award honors a person or group who has gone above and beyond to promote or grow the water sports community, not for their own financial gain, by volunteering, helping underprivileged groups, or starting an organization that grows or promotes the sport.
The deserving recipient of this yearâ€™s award was Danny â€œDanoâ€ Amir, known throughout the towed water sports community as the Noise of the North or Dano the Mano. The official voice of the World Wake Association, Amir travels nearly every weekend for 10 months straight to announce the worldâ€™s largest pro and amateur wakeboard and waterski events. Outside of this, the 35-year-old is strongly dedicated to giving back to the towed water sports community.
WSIA Executive Director Kevin Michael said, â€œDano is not in this for the money, and thereâ€™s no financial reward that he would do this for. He goes out of his way to promote the sport because he loves it.â€
â€œI am beyond blown away by the honor and love Iâ€™ve received from the water sports industry,â€ Amir said. â€œLarryÂ Meddock has been on the front lines of advocating towed water sports for decades. He has been instrumental in growing and protecting the sports and its waterways. To receive his award and be held in the same regard as past winners is surreal.â€
Words: Emily Dale | Photos: Rodrigo Donoso
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Nominations for the next Leadership Awards begin in January of 2019. Anyone can nominate, only current WSIA members can vote. For any questions, e-mail ten.aisw@ofni.