MIAMI BEACH — Marine Concepts owner and CEO Bob Long received the 2013 Alan J. Freedman Memorial Leadership Award today at the National Marine Manufacturers Association state of the Industry Breakfast, which opens the Miami International Boat Show and Strictly Sail.
Marine Concepts president Matt Chambers presented the award for "outstanding contributions to the sport of boating to the benefit of the marine industry."
"It's quite an honor following so many good award recipients," Long said at the breakfast. "I've been in the boating business for over 44 years, even before the NMMA was formed.
Long received the award this morning during the Recreational Boating Industry Breakfast held at the Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail.
Long recalled buying Marine Concepts and losing money in the first month that he was in business.
"I called Buck Pegg, the president of Chaparral, and told him, 'If you'll prepay me, I'll give you top priority on your project,' " Long said. "And he did, and it got us over the hump. We're now a national company and quickly becoming international. We have over 140 trained, experienced people and are proudly known as the top retooling firm in the country."
With more than four decades in the industry, Long has learned a lot.
He mentioned several fellow manufacturer founders by name and said he still gets together with many of them several times a year for vacations.
"That's what's good about this boating industry and the NMMA," Long said. "It not only helps us in our boating business, it becomes like family. I believe there's nothing more important than treating all people as equals. Trust them, and they'll trust you. Treat them fairly, and they'll return the favor. It works. I guarantee it."
His work includes time spent at the helm of Starcraft and Crestliner, a 17-year reign at Wellcraft Marine, and currently as owner and CEO of Marine Concepts. He is a long-standing member of the NMMA who assisted in its formation in 1979 and sat on the NMMA’s board for six years. He has chaired and been a member of numerous NMMA committees and remains an active advocate for recreational boat manufacturing, working with the NMMA on legislative issues in Washington, D.C., and as an avid participant of the industry’s annual American Boating Congress, fighting for marine manufacturers and their rights.
"Perhaps Long’s greatest contributions to the marine industry are his 17 years spent at Wellcraft and his time at Marine Concepts," the NMMA said in a statement. "In creating the company he took a concept he believed in, one that would offer manufacturers complete assistance from initial design and engineering to tooling and final product, and amplified it by introducing technology, computers, CNC Robotic mills, a laser tracker and reverse engineering. By providing these services, Long knew he could aid manufacturers in their product design, engineering and tooling efforts, getting products to the market quicker, with a higher quality and allowing for an improved, stylized and engineered product. The end result was a successful and innovative company reaching customer needs through full production assistance."
— Reagan Haynes