Alan J. Freedman Memorial Leadership Award

Recipients of the NMMA Freedman Award are individuals who, in the course of their careers, have made outstanding contributions to the marine accessories industry through leadership, creativity, and personal motivation.  The following are the categories for consideration:
• Marine aftermarket or OEM manufacturer
• Marine representative
• Member of a marine-focused media
• Boat dealer
• Marine distributor
• Marine trade association staff person


Nominations to the 2025 awards program will open Summer 2024.

To nominate a worthy industry leader:

  • Nominators must belong to a member company and be in good standing with NMMA.
  • Submit the official nomination form.
  • Submit supporting material to enhance the nomination. Supporting material includes, but not limited to; an enhanced career timeline and accomplishments, articles about the nominee and letters of support. Supporting materials should be received digitally through the provided file share link by the entry deadline.

Nominators will be notified of award status in January 2025.


The 2025 Alan J. Freedman Award will be presented during the Miami Industry Breakfast at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Tickets are required for entry.


Contact: Rachel Harmon
Email: [email protected]


View past recipients of this prestigious award.

2023: Matt Bridgewater, Gemlux

Matt Bridgewater

Matthew Bridgewater, CEO of GEMLUX, has been part of the marine community his entire life.  He started bass fishing in his back yard as a boy then transitioned to the St. Johns River where he enjoyed, fishing, skiing, tubing, and even bridge hopping. When a friend invited him to go offshore fishing as a teenager he was forever changed. The ocean is his home!
He enrolled at Eckerd College, and joined an all-volunteer Maritime Search and Rescue Team, EC-SAR, on his first day.  There, he worked directly with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Sheriff’s Department, and many other government agencies.  He mastered navigation, dive rescue, firefighting, vessel operation and repair. More importantly, he learned how to lead others, on and off the water, as a Team Leader. 
Matt knew that boating was indeed his true passion and in 1994, he decided to leave the St. Petersburg, FL. area so that he could join his father at GEMLUX.  Hired as a sales manager, Matt went on the road and started building relationships with everyone in the industry.  
Since his first day on the job, Matt has worked tirelessly to improve the boating experience for the end user and the boat builders. He has fished competitively for over 30 years, and at each event, talked with the captains, mates, boat owners, and boatbuilders about needed improvements for the industry. When problems were identified, he found a way to solve them.  The entire team at GEMLUX is very proud to have developed a multitude of innovative and award-winning products which really do make boating better.  The team has earned dozens of patents in the United States, and around the world. 
Matt is an active member of the NMMA, a Board Member of the Center for Sportfishing Policy, and a founding member and past President of the Marine Leadership Alliance. He also works diligently with industry leaders in Washington D.C. 

Matt’s innovative ideas, positive attitude, and never-ending desire to improve boating benefits everyone who steps on a boat. He sincerely believes the most successful people in this industry are those who truly live and breathe the boating lifestyle and most importantly encourages everyone to take a kid fishing!