IBEX 2019: NMMA announces Hall of Fame inductees

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The National Marine Manufacturers Associated inducted Earl Bentz and Scott Deal to its Hall of Fame on Tuesday at the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition and Conference. Bentz is founder, chairman and CEO of Caymas Boats. Deal is founder and CEO of Maverick Boat Group.

“It’s a privilege to honor my longtime friend Earl Bentz with the 2019 NMMA Hall of Fame Award,” said Bill Watters, president of Syntec Industries, in a statement. “He’s a pioneer in the freshwater fishing industry, and his innovation and dedication to boating will having a lasting impact for generations to come.”

Bentz and his team have been credited with developing many of the designs and system standards on today’s bass boats, including 6-gauge trolling motor wiring as standard equipment, automatic circuit breaker electronics, wood-free construction, retractable passenger grab handles and the retractable boarding ladder that received an Award of Excellence for lifesaving innovations by the National Safe Boating Council.

“With his experience founding Stratos, Javelin and Triton Boats, Earl perfected bass boats, and in turn grew the sport of bass fishing. Now he’s taking bass boats to the next level with his new venture, Caymas Boats,” said Joe Miller, former owner and CEO of William F. Miller and Associates.

Over the course of his 50-plus-year career, Bentz has served on the board of directors at NMMA, the National Association of Boat Manufacturers, the American Boatbuilders Association, the American Sportfishing Association, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.

In 1995, he governor of Tennessee appointed him to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission; he also founded the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation.

Deal launched his career in the marine industry in 1984, when he and his brother paid $12,000 for the 18-foot Maverick boat molds. More than 30 years later, Maverick Boat Group builds four brands — Hewes, Pathfinder, Maverick and Cobia — and 25 models.

“I have had the privilege and honor of working with Scott Deal for many years and am proud to present him with the NMMA Hall of Fame Award,” said Kris Carroll, president of Grady-White Boats. “Scott has passionately offered his time, opinions, counsel and ideas to help move our industry to success through his professional and personal outreach in public and private settings. The epitome of a successful entrepreneur and dedicated advocate for our industry, Scott is a true maverick.”

An avid angler, Deal won the Don Hawley Fly Tarpon and Islamorada Fly Bonefish tournaments and was a “three-peat” champion of the Redbone Celebrity Series. He is active on a number of conservation boards, including the Coastal Conservation Association and the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust. In 2006, he was the first recipient of the Coastal Conservation Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award; he was honored with the Ted Forsgren Conservation Award in 2014.

“Scott has played an integral role in recreational fishing and boating’s ascent in the national spotlight, and his advocacy efforts for the recreational boating industry and the future of recreational fishing will have a lasting impact for generations, not only in Florida but across the country,” said Center for Sportfishing Policy president Jeff Angers.

Also at IBEX yesterday, Volvo Penta of the Americas president Ron Huibers was named Boating Industry magazine’s Mover and Shaker of the Year.

“The list of previous winners of our Mover and Shaker award includes some of the most prominent and recognizable names in the recreational boating industry,” said Boating Industry editor-in-chief David Gee in a statement. “We are pleased and proud to add Ron to that list, not only for his considerable accomplishments at Volvo Penta of the Americas, but also for his continuing commitment to making recreational boating easier, more fun, more accessible and more enjoyable.”

Huibers was recognized for propelling the company’s Easy Boating initiative and for fostering a culture of innovation at the company.

The Mel Barr Award went to Joe Miller of William F. Miller & Associates.

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