The NMMA announced this week the induction of two industry pioneers into the NMMA Hall of Fame, its most prestigious honor. Bill Watters, president of Syntec Industries, and Joan Maxwell, president and co-founder of Regulator Marine, and will be presented with the 2021 NMMA Hall of Fame Award during the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference (IBEX). The ceremony takes place at the show’s annual Industry Breakfast on Tuesday, September 28 from 7:30-9:30am at the JW Marriott Tampa Water Street in Tampa, Fla.
Jay Patton, president, American Boatbuilders Association, said of this year’s next Hall of Fame recipient, Bill Watters, “For 35 years, Bill has worked tirelessly to build Syntec Industries into one of the most successful and innovative marine suppliers. All along the way, he has been a champion for the boating industry, dedicating his time and efforts to numerous boards and committees, advocating for the greater good and leaving a lasting legacy.”
President of Syntec Industries, Bill Watters has been a driving force in the recreational boating industry for more than three decades. He has a passion for the industry like no other, and has selflessly contributed his time, resources and leadership throughout his career.
Bill attended the University of Georgia and graduated with a degree in Agricultural Engineering. Upon graduation, he began working at his father’s yarn manufacturing company, Integrated Products. He began selling yarn to Sea Ray, and after attending Marketing Days at the Miami Boat Show and IMTEC in Chicago, realized there was a great potential for carpet sales in the marine industry.
In 1986, he and his brothers Tom, Thad and Joe formed Syntec Industries and began selling carpet to the marine industry. Syntec has been a major supplier to the marine industry ever since. He brought innovative products to market and set trends for boat builders that positively influenced boat sales.
Thanks to Bill’s forward thinking, Syntec successfully weathered economic downturns and kept up with industry trends by diversifying its product lineup and expanding into other OEM markets, including the RV industry in the 90s, and the manufactured housing and multi-family markets in 2000 and 2009, respectively.
Bill’s leadership and service have also been instrumental to the growth of the recreational boating industry—every committee, board and industry initiative that he’s worked on have benefitted from his involvement. Bill has long been an ardent supporter of NMMA. He’s served in multiple roles on the MACD, NMMA, Grow Boating and MLA Boards, including Chairman of each. He has been AMD Chair- and Vice Chairperson, and a member of the Recreational Boating Leadership Council. To help expose boat builders to the best suppliers in the marine industry, Bill has also been a driving force behind IBEX, and has served as IBEX Planning Committee Chairperson.
Bill also gives back to his community with his time, energy and financial support. He supports multiple youth groups, local organizations and charities in his hometown of Rome, Georgia, including the Darlington School Board, YMCA, Jaycees, Boy Scouts of America, Floyd Healthcare Foundation, Kiki’s Kids, Coosa Valley Soil & Water Conservancy & Development and the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission, to name just a few.
Bill and his wife Judy also own Oakdale Farms and raise Black Angus Cattle. While both are Master Cattlemen, Judy oversees the day-to-day operations of the farm. Bill works on the farm evenings and weekends. They have two children, Will and Landon, one grandson, William and another grandchild on the way. Bill has become the consummate grandad and loves every minute of it!
Throughout his career, Bill has worked to develop relationships that strengthen not only his business, but others. He has always freely given his time and energy to the recreational boating industry and there is no doubt that the business of boating is better because of his efforts.
Joan Maxwell is a trailblazer who has devoted her working life to the marine industry. Through her determination and faith, Regulator has grown to be a leading manufacturer of offshore boats, and earned a reputation as one of the most well-respected brands in the boating industry for more than 30 years running.
Founded by Joan and her husband Owen in 1988 in an abandoned A&P Grocery Store, Regulator set out to reinvent the deep-vee center console experience and engineered what is known today as an unbeatably smooth and dry ride. The company now operates in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Edenton, NC where their expert team continues the legacy Joan and Owen started years ago – always evolving to meet customer demand while staying true to their heritage.
The NMMA Hall of Fame was established in 1988 and recognizes individuals who have made, or continue to generate, substantial and lasting contributions toward the advancement of the marine industry. It honors individuals whose names and deeds are synonymous with the pursuit of quality, innovation, and perfection within their respective spheres of expertise.
To learn more about past NMMA Hall of Fame inductees, visit the NMMA Industry Awards page.