The NMMA announced today the induction of two industry veterans into the NMMA Hall of Fame, its most prestigious honor. Joe Miller, Former CEO & Principal at William F. Miller & Associates, and Doug Smoker, President & CEO of Smoker Craft, Inc., will be presented with the 2022 NMMA Hall of Fame Award during the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference (IBEX).
“You will never meet a person with more loyalty, generosity, and compassion than Joe Miller. He is a legend in the marine industry for his dedication, energy and countless contributions. Joe’s leadership is noted in the countless honors he has received. A mentor and inspiration to industry peers and his team alike, who has left a lasting mark on recreational boating, I’m honored to present Joe with this year’s NMMA Hall of Fame Award,” said Bill Watters, president of Syntec Industries.
Founded by his father in 1957, Bill Miller, Joe joined the marine manufacturers’ representative agency William F. Miller & Associates in 1968. Joe purchased the agency in the early nineties, and coached, trained and led his team by example for several years, driving the business to greater heights with new territories, new customers, and new products to represent.
Joe tactically maneuvered the agency through the recession, only to come out conducting business in a stronger fashion while keeping his entire team in place. He continually challenged his employees to work harder and smarter, while successfully growing the agency’s business year over year.
He developed the concept of and continues to travel on the Gypsy Jamboree, a 53-foot trailer truck, outfitted with displays and products that is driven to the facilities of the OEM builders and select distributor locations in their territory.
Throughout these years, Joe always maintained his father’s tenants for success – integrity, honesty, and hard work.
Joe sold the company to Hill Lenderman in 2019. With Hill at the helm, Joe now trains the younger generation of William F. Miller & Associates’ sales reps, priding himself in a senior leadership role and dividing his time between training and assisting salesmen in each territory, calling on key accounts, business development with new customers, and adding depth and stability with deep relationships both with their customer and factory bases. Thanks to Joe’s coaching, along with the guidance and support of the agency, four members of his sales team have been named to Boating Industry’s 40 Under 40.
Throughout his business career, Joe has remained active as a leader in the marine industry, at William F. Miller & Associates, and in his community.
Joe was an active participant and committee member in steering IBEX’s growth, has served on the board of NMDA, was a member and officer of NMRA and board member of the Marine Leadership Alliance. Joe is also a fierce advocate for the marine industry, supporting and attending the annual American Boating Congress.
Joe’s leadership is noted in the honors he has received including more than 100 sales awards throughout his tenure, plus the Alan J. Freedman Award (’99), Bill Huntley American Outdoor Leadership of the Year Award (’18), the Mel Barr Award (‘19) and the Mover & Shaker Award (’21). He has also been named “Rep of The Year” by Boating Industry magazine three times and “Best Rep of the Southeast” six times.
Joe and his family are actively involved in their community, instituting the Will Miller Scholarship in 1989 at Father Ryan High School, in honor of Joe’s late brother. Joe and his wife, Linda, are also involved in UpRise Nashville, a career development program that provides training in highly sought-after skills along with leadership and personal development, to give Nashvillians a way to stop living paycheck to paycheck and launch a career. He’s given his time to Nashville’s Contributor newspaper, a non-profit organization that helps the city’s homeless establish their own micro-businesses and work their way into housing through selling an award-winning street paper.
An avid boater, angler, and duck hunter, Joe’s favorite passions are always enjoyed with friends from the marine industry.
Bob Deputy, former president and CEO of Godfrey Marine, said of this year’s next Hall of Fame recipient, Doug Smoker, “Recognized as a true gentleman and an inspiring leader by his peers, employees and community, Doug is unequivocally an industry icon. Competitive at his core, Doug is constantly encouraging others to show up and give their best effort. Throughout his five decades in the industry, Doug has put service to others first, leaving a positive impact on so many. A genuine class act and friend, it is my pleasure to honor Doug with the 2022 Hall of Fame Award.”
Doug Smoker joined the family boat building business in 1972. He is a 4th generation boat builder and has played an integral role in the success and evolution of Smoker Craft, Inc., making it,
today, one of today’s highest respected boat manufacturers in the world – a remarkable accomplishment for a privately held, independent organization, owned & operated by two families.
During his 55-year career in the recreational boat business, Doug has always been family oriented. To that end, “family focused” is one of four core values which are part of the company’s vision & mission and further reinforced with every team member. It is also a primary cornerstone of Smoker Craft, Inc.’s dealer organization. Under Doug’s leadership, the Smoker Craft team has surpassed 900 employees whom, together, will produce over 20,000 boats in calendar year 2022. Smoker Craft, Inc.’s boat segments include pontoons, aluminum fishing boats and fiberglass boats, all of which are part of a vast brand portfolio including Smokercraft, Starcraft, Sylvan, Starweld and Sunchaser. These products and brands are sold in all global markets.
Doug has effectively led the company through various acquisitions, expansions, recessions, a global financial crisis, and, most recently, a worldwide pandemic. Throughout his tenure at the helm, the company has thrived – delivering exponential annual growth in sales volumes, reaching top-level market share positions, expanding product lines, innovating new products, nearly doubling the size of its manufacturing complex (now to almost 1,000,000 square feet), creating rewarding, high-paying jobs contributing to the economy of the local community, and building, then optimizing, a world class dealer distribution network.
Doug’s contributions to the success of Smoker Craft, Inc. include multiple Design & Engineering innovations. He has played a direct role in the development of the company’s Hydro-Lift reverse-chine hull, still used in today’s aluminum fishing boat production. He also oversaw multiple facility expansions, including a second factory established in the Pacific Northwest.
Doug has consistently contributed to the long-term health of the recreational boating industry. He has served on the NMMA and Grow Boating boards as well as on various committees. Doug was the Chairperson of the BMD board from 2018 to 2020 and served on the NMMA Executive Committee from 2018 to 2022. Prior to the pandemic, Doug was a frequent visitor to Washington DC, recognizing the need for the American Boating Congress and activism in the U.S. capital. He has met with elected officials on behalf of the entire boating industry, including Vice President, Mike Pence, and Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross. A staunch supporter of BoatPAC, Doug views advocacy as a primary responsibility to preserve the future of boating. His ongoing commitment, along with that of Peter Barrett and Phil Smoker, allowed Smoker Craft, Inc. to receive the inaugural Advocacy of the Year award.
Doug’s passion, energy, and enthusiasm for the marine business can only be matched by his faith and commitment to the community. He is an active member of the Granger Community Church, serving on the Advisory Board for their Early Learning Center. Prior to joining, he was a member of the First Mennonite Church in Middlebury, Indiana. Doug had the distinction of being the youngest Elder to ever serve during his tenure. He is on the Board of the Goshen Health Foundation and served six years as part of the Goshen Hospital Capital Fund Committee. He is regularly donating his time and financial support to local charities including – Cultivate, which provides meals for under privileged children, the local Boys and Girls Club, Child and Parent Services, and the Greencroft Assisted Living Center in Goshen, Indiana.
Faith is a significant part of Doug’s life. This same faith has been a foundational element in building a family-centered, people-first culture at Smoker Craft, Inc. Balancing a pragmatic style with an authentic respect for collaboration, Doug approaches every situation with a servant’s heart.
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.