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Marine Dealer Conference & Expo awards handed out

ORLANDO, Fla. - A number of awards were given out at a luncheon Tuesday at the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo, including the Irv Rosenthal award and the Bill Ferguson award.

Paxson St. Clair, president of Cobalt Boats, was honored with the Rosenthal Award, given annually to someone who has made a difference to marine dealers.

In accepting the award, St. Clair said he prided himself on the close partnership his company has with its dealers, and said Cobalt - and all boatbuilders - are only as strong as their dealer networks.

In discussing the company's J.D. Power and Associates awards, St. Clair said, "I believe it's the dealer who plays the largest role in helping people like us earn these awards.

"This certainly is one of the real highlights of my years in the business," he said of the Rosenthal award.

The Bill Ferguson award, named for the first leader of the Marine Retailers Association of America, is given annually to a trade association that has gone the extra mile to help dealers, and this year the National Marine Trades Council received the honor.

The MRAA Educational Foundation also presented $1,500 to the Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey marine trades groups for scholarships. The associations must promise to match the award to present a $3,000 scholarship to the recipient of their choice.

The foundation also announced $3,000 technical scholarships were given to Manual Valente from The Landing School and Kelvin "Graydon" Meeks from WyoTech's Daytona campus.

* * *

Also at the luncheon, Bob Williams, from Five Star Solutions, announced some changes to the dealer certification program.

Going forward, the program will be known as the Marine Industry Five Star Dealership Certification program. A tagline of, "We're the Best. We'll Prove It" will be available for certified dealers to use in advertising and other means of communicating with customers.

"It's bold. We think it communicates well," Williams said.

The program also rolled out new enhancements and requirements, such as certain Web site requirements, Internet inquiry enhancements, upgraded service processes, a requirement to create an employee handbook and ongoing monitoring requirements.

At the end of October, 378 marine dealers were certified.

For information, call (800) 975-7894 or e-mail fivestarsolutions@fivestarsolutions.com

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