2019 Progressive Insurance Minneapolis Innovation Award Winners Announced

The NMMA and Boating Writers International (BWI) honored yesterday winners of the 2019 Minneapolis Innovation Awards, recognizing groundbreaking new consumer marine products, presented opening night of the Progressive Insurance Minneapolis Boat Show. 

The Innovation Awards came to Minneapolis in 2018 to honor manufacturers and suppliers who bring new, innovative products in the boating industry to market in the following categories: aluminum fishing boats, fiberglass fishing boats, and pontoon boats. This year’s program evaluated eleven products; and judges ultimately selected three winners – Lund Boats, Skeeter Boats, and Smoker Craft, Inc.

“We’re proud to host a portion of the prestigious Innovation Awards here in Minneapolis, showcasing the strength and innovation of marine manufacturing in the upper Midwest,” noted Show Manager Darren Envall. “Fishing boats and pontoons have a strong presence in this marketplace, and the boat show is THE place to check out the newest innovations, particularly in these sectors, year after year.”

The 2019 Progressive® Insurance Minneapolis Boat Show® Innovation Award winners are:

  • Aluminum Fishing Boats: Adventure, Lund Boats – “The versatility with very thoughtful and well-designed features including the SportTrak/ProTrak allows for the use of various accessories from fender holders, rod holders and cup holders,” said Brady Kay, Innovation Judge.
  • Fiberglass Fishing Boats: WX2200, Skeeter Boats – “The engineers took on the technical challenge of melding aluminum and fiberglass to create a stronger, but lighter deck and usable storage space,” said Alan Wendt, Innovation Judge.
  • Pontoon Boats: Mirage 8524 DLZ Bar, Smoker Craft, Inc. – “The design responds to consumer trends for a large, comfortable aft lounge area that through innovative design transforms into an attractive social area with the touch of two buttons and a little elbow grease,” said Bill Gius, Innovation Judge.

“It’s gratifying to see many of the innovations, first introduced at IBEX, being interpreted so many different ways in these boating categories on display in Minneapolis,” said Judging Chair Alan Wendt.

2019 Minneapolis Boat Show Innovation Awards judges bios:  

Alan Wendt (Chair): Past President of Boating Writers International, Wendt does new product testing for Lakeland Boating. A journalist in print, radio, TV and online for more than 40 years, he has served as a judge for NMMA’s Innovation Awards since 2001.

Bill Gius: Gius has been in the marine industry for over three decades.  He has worked in marketing at Pabst Brewing, Mercury Marine, Kohler Company, Turning Point Propellers and iboats.com. He owns “Country Consulting,” a marine industry consulting firm and works with Great Lakes Marine Marketing, a long-standing, Midwest manufacturers’ rep company. Bill is a contributing writer to Pontoon & Deck Boat Magazine and Great Lakes Boating Magazine

Brady Kay: As the executive editor of Pontoon & Deck BoatHouseboat and Great Lakes Boating magazines, Kay has been writing and photographing all types of boats for nearly 20 years. He is currently on the Boating Writers International board of directors and has served on the judging panel for the NMMA Innovation Awards multiple times. Kay has also earned writing and photography awards from Apex Awards for Publication Excellence as well as BWI.

For general questions about the Minneapolis Innovation Awards please contact Rachel Harmon at rharmon@nmma.org. The Innovation Award winners will be on display throughout the show, January 24-27, at the Minneapolis Convention Center.