William "Bill" J. Ek, who grew up in the boating business and built a career in in sales and marketing for several companies, died Aug. 1, at Indianhead Medical Center in Shell Lake, Wis. He was 79.
Born July 31, 1936, Ek got his start working at his father’s company, Shell Lake Boats, a builder of wooden boats and canoes.
Ek worked in sales and marketing for several boat companies over the years, including Fisher Aluminum Boats, before joining Outboard Marine Corp., where he would head the sterndrive division.
He worked with senior management at OMC in the purchase of several brands, including Chris-Craft, Four Winns, Hydra-Sports, Stratos, Javelin and Lowe.
Ek was appointed president of the OMC Aluminum Boat Group in Lebanon, Mo., which included the Lowe, Sea Nymph, Grumman, Suncruiser, DuraNautic, Princecraft and Roughneck brands.
During that time he was known affectionately in the company as the “Tin Man.”
After OMC’s bankruptcy, Ek served as a consultant to Irwin Jacobs and Genmar, among other companies.
Ek is survived by his wife, five sons, five grandchildren, two sisters and many nieces and nephews, other relatives and friends.