Industry veteran Bill Finney has died of pancreatic cancer.
Finney had a long, successful career in the boating industry, starting with the Luhrs Marine Group after he graduated from the University of Florida. He had attended the university on a full baseball scholarship.
Finney worked for Luhrs Marine group for over 25 years, holding a number of successive positions and eventually becoming president of the $200 million builder. In addition to Luhrs, Finney was managing director of Australia Yachts, vice president of manufacturing at Grand Banks Yachts, head of operations for Luhrs Marine Group, and most recently plant manager at Regal Boats. He worked for Regal in two stints for a total of eight years.
Finney was praised for his personal and professional accomplishments. At Grand Banks, for instance, he introduced lean manufacturing principles, which allowed the builder to reduce build hours by as much as 30 percent. He also overhauled the yacht builder’s quality control system.
“Bill was extremely bright and capable of making things happen on the operational level,” said Tim Kuck, vice president of Regal Boats. “I always sought him out for counsel regarding major decisions. Throughout this time, our relationship matured from work associates to special friends. Bill will be sorely missed by his many friends and colleagues both at Regal and within the marine industry.”
“As president of the Luhrs Marine Group, Bill was the key guy behind the successful development of each new boat within our four brands,” said Jim Krueger, former general manager of Mainship Trawlers. “But he never took personal credit for it. His leadership style was hands-on during the design, development and construction process. But then he chose to remain behind the scenes, as he wanted his senior managers to be the public face of each of the companies.”
Finney’s philosophy, added Kreuger, “was all about our success as a group, never about himself personally.”
“While he was perhaps best known for his design and manufacturing production chops, Bill earned his degree in communications and fully understood and embraced marketing and brand positioning,” said Wanda Kenton Smith, president of Kenton Smith Marketing, who worked with Finney at Regal, and then later as the public relations and marketing consultant to Luhrs Marine Group. “I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been in his universe and to have called him my friend.”
Tim Kuck will be officiating at Finney’s memorial service on Saturday, per Finney’s request. Here are details of the memorial service.