MRAA hands out annual honor and scholarships


The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas MRAA Educational Foundation named four recipients of awards and scholarships at the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo in November.

Rallee Chupich, co-owner of Gordy’s Lakefront Marine in Fontana, Wis., was named the 2013 Darlene Briggs Woman of the Year.

A 30-plus-year veteran of the boat business, Chupich has served in roles at the dealership that range from ski instructor and service manager to owner and chief operating officer of Gordy’s Boat House, its restaurant and bar. She has been involved in numerous community organizations, including the Lake Geneva Chamber of Commerce, the Fontana Park Commission and the Geneva Lake Conservancy.

"As a business, community and industry leader, as well as mother, wife, teacher and athlete, Chupich truly embodies the spirit with which the Darlene Briggs Woman of the Year Award was created,” MRAA Educational Foundation executive director Liz Walz said in a statement.“Her passion for the marine business, the boating lifestyle and Gordy’s in particular is immediately apparent to all who meet her.”

Boating Industry’s national sales director, Kathy Johnson, introduced the 2012 Darlene Briggs Award winner, Debbie Meigs of Cobalt Boats, who presented the award.

Aric Chaltry, of Nestegg Marine, was the first person to receive the new Duane Spader Leadership Development Scholarship, the MRAA announced.

While presenting the award, MRAA Educational Foundation board member Jeff Siems, of Blue Springs Marine, shared the story of how Chaltry came to work for his mentor and father-in-law at Nestegg Marine, as well as his aspirations to one day run the business.

The scholarship was founded by Spader Business Management and the MRAA Educational Foundation in 2013 to honor the marine industry service of Spader founder Duane Spader, as well as his leadership philosophy of lifelong learning. The recipient receives full tuition, which is valued at $14,875, to attend the Spader Leadership Development Program.

Lynette Santomenna, of Race City Marine in Mooresville, N.C., and Michael Przybyla, of Rivett’s Marine in Old Forge, N.Y., were selected as recipients of 2013 Kevin Lodder Scholarships.

The first of the recipients helped her husband launch a boat dealership five years ago while juggling a full-time job at an area law firm. The second recipient, who has lived the boating lifestyle since he was a young child, dreams of owning the marina where he is a service manager.

The Landing School and the WTI Foundation were selected as recipients of 2013 MRAA Technical Scholarships.