The National Marine Manufacturers Assn. (NMMA, Chicago, Ill.) honored Bob Long, owner and CEO of JRL Ventures/Marine Concepts (Cape Coral, Fla.) with the 2013 Alan J. Freedman Memorial Leadership Award. Long received the award Feb. 14 at the State of the Recreational Boating Industry breakfast held at the Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail (Feb. 14-18, Miami, Fla.).
Bob was recognized for his outstanding contributions to the marine accessories industry, including leadership, creativity and personal motivation. Considered a leader, innovator and champion for boating for more than 40 years, Long's work history includes the presidency of Starcraft (Topeka, Ind.) and Crestliner (Little Falls, Minn.), a 17-year reign at Wellcraft Marine (Sarasota, Fla.), and 19 years as owner/CEO of Marine Concepts.
A long-time NMMA member, Bob assisted in its formation in 1979, and sat on its board for six years. He also attends and is a host for the NMMA at The American Boating Congress.
Bob's career started off with a BS in Engineering and an MBA. He worked at StarCraft Marine as a manager of manufacturing engineering, where he quickly became VP at the age of 29. After a move to Wellcraft Marine, he was instrumental in the fight against a ban on weekend boating in the 1970s as well as a luxury tax on boats. As president of Wellcraft Marine, Bob attracted celebrities, such as Walter Peyton, Don Johnson and Chuck Norris, to his Scarab racing teams.
After leaving Wellcraft, he took his organizational and technology-development skills to Marine Concepts, which he and his wife Karen purchased and then positioned as a leading supplier of plugs, molds, engineering and design in the recreational marine industry.
Long also dedicates much time to civic and industry organizations, including the Suncoast Foundation for Handicapped Children, the Mote Marine Laboratory Board of Directors, the American Boat and Yacht Council, Florida Marine Retailers Assn., the Cape Coral Council for Progress Board of Directors and St. Martha's Catholic School Parent Teacher Assn.
"This year's Freedman Award recipient is truly a living legend in the recreational marine industry. Bob has made a career-long commitment to meet a need, provide quality, maintain on-time delivery, research new and innovative technology, and employ a very personal approach to marketing," commented Matt Chambers, Marine Concepts' president.
"NMMA congratulates Bob Long on receiving the Alan J. Freedman Award and thanks him for his unwavering dedication, support and passion for the marine industry," notes Thom Dammrich, NMMA president. "We are proud to work alongside Bob as he is a remarkable leader, innovator and creative mind who has made substantial contributions to marine manufacturing and continues to help make boating the preferred choice in recreation."