A great leader is someone who redefines the measure of success.
For a woman born under Montana’s big sky, whose childhood dream was moving up from a single- to a double-wide, success has been truly redefined by accomplishing what’s never been done in our industry on such a huge scale — the new Progressive Miami International Boat Show.
I’m talking about National Marine Manufacturers Association vice president of shows Cathy Rick-Joule. After refusing to hear “it can’t be done” and leading an unprecedented move of this 75-year old legendary show, Rick-Joule will retire this spring to complete an unmatched career in this industry.
If you weren’t in Miami last weekend, you can’t grasp the magnitude of what Rick-Joule accomplished there. But try to imagine this: you’re standing on an empty overgrown stretch of land with virtually no infrastructure; its only feature is a hurricane-damaged marine stadium abandoned 24 years ago and you’re told this is where you’re to create a huge boat show. Oh, yes, and get it done in under a year with a neighboring community throwing everything they can to keep you from succeeding.
Perhaps it was growing up in a small town, in a family where hard work was highly valued, that assured her long-term success. In 1987, she headed to New York and landed a temporary job with the New York Boat Show. In no time, the NMMA recruited her for a permanent spot and a 28-year career with the NMMA began.
In the years since, Rick-Joule has held many show positions, including registration manager in New York and, later, operations manager for NMMA’s Northeast shows (New York City; Philadelphia, Penn.; Norwalk, Conn.; and Norfolk, Va.). In 1991, she was named show manager for the Tampa Boat Show and the Florida State Boat & Sports Show. She became Southern regional manager in 1995 that included a move to Miami and was named vice president of Southern shows in 2007.
In 2009, NMMA named her vice president of boat shows that includes manager of the Miami International Boat Show and overseeing the Atlanta Boat Show, Atlantic City Boat Show, Baltimore Boat Show, New England Boat Show, New York Boat Show, Norwalk Boat Show, Strictly Sail Chicago, Strictly Sail Miami, and the Tampa Boat Show.
But the pinnacle of Rick-Joule’s career is clearly this year’s amazing Miami International Boat Show. Indeed, in our industry’s fraternity of show managers, Rick-Joule is recognized as an outstanding leader.
“Cathy has a wealth of knowledge and always contributed much to our National Marine Trades Council meetings,” said Malissa Danko, executive director of the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey and vice chair of the NMTC, “and I have learned a lot from her over the years. She will be greatly missed.”
NMMA West vice president Dave Geoffroy said of Rick-Joule: “I’ve known her for more than a dozen years and she is so professional, always considerate and enthusiastically meets any challenge. I consider her tenacious effort to be the main ingredient to the success of NMMA 's flagship event.”
Pulling together this year’s Miami show has required Rick-Joule to quarterback and inspire a great team, reach out myriad local, state and federal agency officials and convince all segments of the marine industry that the move to Virginia Key could be accomplished.
“I’m so thankful to so many on our team for all they’ve done — they made me believe in me,” Rick-Joule said, “and I also learned when you’re desperate, fear goes away.”
Ken Lovell, president of the Boating Trade Association of Houston, said of Rick-Joule: “She is truly a class act for our industry, a genuine talent and example of good leadership. We congratulate her.”
“Cathy’s contributions to our NMTC meetings have always been extremely beneficial,” notes Nicki Polan, executive director of the Michigan Boating Industries Association and manager of the Detroit Boat Show running this week in Cobo Hall. “She is truly a generous person. Every time I personally sought her input she always made time to talk and help.”
Generous truly does describe Rick-Joule. It’s a trait I’m sure she received early in Montana, seeing her dad always giving eggs from their small farm to people needing a hand. Being able to call Rick-Joule a friend for more than 15 years, I know firsthand of her dedication to help her exhibitors succeed, her passion for building relationships, and her untiring work to solve problems.
As NMMA president Thom Dammrich put it this week: “Cathy has always had her priorities in the right place. She deserves to retire at the pinnacle of her career.”
To that I add she has been the quintessential show manager, and served so many in our industry so well. Countless have benefitted from her work and commitment to their success. She has more than earned our highest praise and time with her husband, Pete, for some peaceful cruising on their 36-foot Albin appropriately named “Cathy Ann.”
Thanks for all you have done, Cathy.