2020 WSIA Leadership & Innovative Product Awards

On February 26th, the 2020 WSIA Summit concluded with the Leadership & Innovative Product Awards, an annual ceremony that recognizes industry leaders and top performers for the year. With more than 250 attendees, these awards were a highlight of the 2020 Summit and honored the best in the towed water sports industry, on both the retail and manufacturer levels. Thank you to both the winners and nominees for their dedication and service.

Retail Shop of the Year

This honor was presented to the specialty retailer that has distinguished themselves through outstanding product knowledge, creative displays, consumer enthusiasm and promotional ingenuity. This pro shop offered the best selection, product mix and merchandising throughout the past 365 days and has gone out of their way to support the contest scene, facilitate water sports clinics, work with community leadership groups, and grow the sport.

For 2020, the winner was narrowed down to Wiley’s out of Seattle, Washington. They weren’t present to accept the award, but Brian Gardner (Square One) and Mike Kirshenbaum (HO Sports) accepted on their behalf and had the crowd help him out with a standing ovation, which Brian recorded to send to the Wiley’s team.

Marine Dealership of the Year

Consideration for this award focused on the dealership that went above and beyond in promoting and protecting towed water sports in their area. This leading dealership has a strong service department, an accommodating showroom for consumers, and merchandising that connects the consumer with what it’s really like to be a part of the towed water sports lifestyle. This dealer also participated in educating customers on Wake Responsibly and hosted #PassTheHandle opportunities.

The winner for the single-location dealership was Regal & Nautique of Orlando. Owner Jeff Husby, along with Danny Harf, accepted the award on behalf of the dealership, saying, “I’m happy to be a part of WSIA, and I’m trying to get more and more dealerships involved in what we do. I think the dealerships are the face of how we’re going to grow the sport and protect our waterways.”

The winner for the multi-location dealership was Action Water Sports in Michigan and Florida.

Regal & Nautique of Orlando owner Jeff Husby (right) and Greg Meloon, President of Nautique (left)

Wake Park of the Year

Wake parks help eliminate barriers to entry and are introducing an exponential amount of new people to the sports of wakeboarding, water skiing and more each year. The honor for Wake Park of the Year was presented to the wake park which had the best community outreach programs, followed safe practices at all times, and did the most to grow water sports in their area.

The WSIA was pleased to announce that Orlando Watersports Complex was the recipient for 2020. Kellan Rudnicki, the Aktion Parks Director of Operations, accepted the award saying, “This is a huge honor and a testament to our team there. We firmly believe in one of our core values, “Making life better,” and I can’t think of a better way of doing that than showing people the amazing experience of watersports.”

Kellan Rudnicki, Aktion Parks Director of Operations

Camp/School of the Year

This next award recognized the water sports school or camp that has shown excellence in training their students and offers excellent amenities and support for events, competitions, and clinics. Special consideration was taken for organizations who have reached out to new and beginner riders in their community by working with Wake the World, In His Wakes, local youth groups, YMCA, etc. as well as promoting #PassTheHandle.

This year, The Boarding School in Orlando, Florida, took home the top honor for their commitment to their students, offering training to beginners and pros alike at a world-class facility.

Tarah & Cobe Mikacich presenting Ski/Wake School of the Year

Sales Rep of the Year

This honor was presented to a rep who worked tirelessly to educate both consumers and retailers, promote and represent their brands with the utmost enthusiasm, and make a strong impression on everyone they met. This award, also known as the 110% Award, honors nominees who go above and beyond expectations, those who are doing it because they not only love the towed water sports community but also respect the opportunity to connect with partners.

This year’s award went to Greg Dick, the West Coast sales rep for Nautique Boats. He accepted the award with, “I’m honored to be up here with all of these other reps. Time flies when you’re having fun. Being a rep is my dream job, and I’m really blessed to have worked for the best manufacturers and with all of these incredible people who have become family.”

Larry Meddock Award

The Larry Meddock Award honors a person or charitable 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.

This year’s recipient has been volunteering his time at numerous Wake the World events each year. He also hosts a Pass The Handle event every Wednesday evening on his home lake. Last year he came to the 2019 Summit and listened to Larry Meddock talk about the waterway issues, and went back to North Carolina, met his Boating Law Administrator, and got Wake Responsibly signs put up on every single boat launch in North Carolina. He then went on to propose an educational plan in coordination with North Carolina Wildlife utilizing Wake the World’s vast volunteer pool. He has no financial compensation from this industry.

Mike Thomson took to the stage to accept his award, giving the advice, “If you’re not a part of Wake the World, I highly recommend you should be because it will change your life.”

Larry Meddock Award recipient Mike Thomson

Career Achievement Award

Tom Weber received the Career Achievement Award at the 2020 Summit. Kevin Michael presented Tom with, “This man enabled so many things for so many people. When I was a kid in Wisconsin, my dad taught me how to waterski. I became hooked. All I wanted to do was be a water skier. I learned you can go professional and make money for being a show skier. And one day that dream became a reality. But sometimes your dreams take other people to enable those dreams, and Tom Weber was the one who signed my checks at SeaWorld in Texas. Every time I’d get a paycheck for waterskiing I’d look at it and double take at those paychecks. I would’ve paid Tom to be on that ski team. [Laughs] And it wasn’t just me. There are so many people who this man has empowered.”

Terry Dorner went on to give their congratulations to Tom for his Career Achievement Award. “As impressive as your career achievements have been, these pale in comparison to the examples you’ve set on how to be a genuinely good human being. I’m not talking about ROI, Tom, I’m talking about ROH, Return On Humanity. This industry is a better place because of you.”

Water Sports Innovation Awards

This accolade recognized industry leaders and their products that have pushed the towed water sports marketplace to new heights over the past year. These honors were presented to manufacturers (boat, hard good, or soft good) who produced a new product having innovative distinction from other products currently manufactured in the towed water sports industry. Congratulations to all deserving recipients.

Centurion’s Opti-V Hull and QuickLaunch
Supreme’s Tapered-V Hull
Malibu’s M-Line Hull with Surf Gate Fusion
Nautique’s Paragon Hull Design
PCM’s Z Series Engines
Radar’s PMI Foam Core and Textreme Carbon with Innegra
Roswell’s Telescoping Flight Control Tower
SeaDek’s Flat Boat Fenders
Tige’s GO System
Yamaha’s WakeBooster Wakesurf Shaper
O’Brien’s Zenith Wakesurfer
Liquid Force’s Pod Foil
Hyperlite’s Domain USCG-Approved Life Jacket
HO’s Syndicate Dry-Flex Wetsuit Material
Connelly’s Skelecore Mass-Reduction Technology
Mastercraft’s Surfing Presets on the X and XT Models
Supra’s AutoWake
Ronix Wake’s Sandwich Tech on their Supreme Wakeboard

Liquid Force with their Innovative Product Award

VIEW ALL PHOTOS FROM 2019 SUMMIT AND LEADERSHIP AWARDS >>

Words: Emily Dale | Photos: Bill Doster