The American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) has announced the recipients of the 2024 Outstanding Technician Awards during the International Marine Service Technician Week, running from April 24-29. Sponsored by Yamaha, the awards were given to 10 technicians selected from over 130 nominees.

This year’s winners are Ryan Coffin from Yarmouth Boat Yard, BJ Benson from Viking Marine, Jason Ustaszewski from Cape Marine Survey, Sean Fabio from Gage Marine, Gregory Michael from Pinnacle Marine Group, Thomas Hithmaker from Port Annapolis Marina, Brian Vandeyacht from Irish Boat Shop, Brian Ehlers from MarineMax Texas MasterCraft, Tim Murphy from Kingman Yacht Center, and Cliff Manlapaz from Diversified Marine Services.

A new category, New Achiever, recognizes newcomers to the industry who demonstrate outstanding potential and skills. This year’s New Achievers are Jack Truett from Truett Marine Services and Alex Harlow from Harborside Marina. The event, now in its third year, aims to highlight marine service professionals excelling in customer service, technical training, and industry involvement.

BJ Benson – Viking Marine

BJ Benson received 13 nominations from colleagues and clients. His professionalism is evident in his extensive technical knowledge and his ability to collaborate effectively within the marine industry and with boat owners. His clients value his comprehensive understanding and his talent for educating on the intricacies of boat systems, enabling them to make informed and confident decisions. BJ sees the “big picture” of how boat systems interact and consistently stays updated with the latest technology and training. Known for being punctual, knowledgeable, honest, hardworking, tenacious, and caring, BJ’s lifelong passion for boating began in his youth in Puget Sound. He often says, “life’s too short for anything less than doing what you love.”

Ryan Coffin – Yarmouth Boat Yard

Ryan Coffin, a graduate of Lakes Region Community College in New Hampshire, holds multiple certifications including ABYC Gas Engine, Mercury Outboard, and Volvo Gas/Diesel. Additionally, he is a U.S. Coast Guard certified Captain. He earned his Yamaha Master Technician Certification in January 2023 and instructs at Southern Maine Community College, where he has helped over 90 students gain certifications. Known for his innate mechanical abilities and meticulous diagnostic skills, Ryan can track down the root cause of obscure mechanical issues.

Brian Ehlers – MarineMax Texas MasterCraft

Brian Ehlers, an MMI and ABYC Master Technician with specializations in electrical, corrosion, and standards, is also a Master Mercruiser and outboard technician. He holds additional certifications from leading marine technology brands such as Simrad, Garmin, Raymarine, and Airmar. With over 10 years in the marine industry, Brian is distinguished by his unwavering commitment to safety and excellence, ensuring that every vessel he services adheres to the highest safety standards to protect both the vessel and its passengers. His dedication to continually expanding his knowledge and skill set demonstrates his relentless pursuit to enhance his qualifications and improve his service to customers and colleagues.

Sean Fabio – Gage Marine

Sean, with a degree in Business and over 15 years in the Marine industry, is the lead diagnostic technician and a pivotal leader within the organization. He holds certifications in Mercruiser sterndrives, Mercury outboards, Yamaha outboards, Volvo Penta, Pavati Boats, Mastercraft Boats, Bennington Boats, Monterey Boats, Bennington Boats, Chris Craft Boats, Boston Whaler Boats. He also possesses advanced knowledge in Seakeeper Ride, Garmin, Simrad, and Ray Marine Systems. Continuously expanding his expertise and staying current with the latest technologies, Sean excels in the diagnosis and repair of complex marine electronics. His meticulous attention to detail, exemplary service, and positive demeanor greatly enhance the team and customer experience, making him a standout professional.

Thomas Huthmaker – Port Annapolis Marina

Thomas Huthmaker, an ABYC Diesel Certified technician trained at the Annapolis School of Seamanship and Yamaha Tech, is renowned in the marine industry for his expertise in diesel engines and outboards. At Port Annapolis Marina, he is the preferred choice for all diesel engine maintenance and repairs, recognized for his meticulous work and exceeding customer expectations. For Thomas, there are no customers, only fellow sailors, and he believes that anything less than perfection in completing a task may endanger lives. His commitment to exemplary technical service and strong relationships sets a high standard of excellence in the industry.

Cliff Manlapaz – Diversified Marine Services

Cliff Manlapaz, an ABYC Master Tech with certifications in AC, Systems, and Electrical, as well as NMEA certifications, is renowned for his comprehensive expertise and approachable demeanor. Cliff is celebrated for always having time to listen, offer advice, or lend a hand, regardless of the complexity of the query. His dedication to continuous learning and improvement is matched by his natural talent and limitless potential. Cliff prioritizes customer service and safety, meticulously understanding customer needs and the specifics of each boat to ensure solutions are accurate and effective on the first attempt. Known for his dependability, patience, and consistently positive attitude, Cliff is a model professional and a vital asset to his team.

Gregory Michael – Pinnacle Marine Group

Captain Gregory Michael received multiple nominations. A United States Coast Guard Captain with over 30 years in the marine industry, he holds a Bachelor of Science and a USCG 100 TON Master license. He is an ABYC Master Technician and serves on the ABYC Technical Committee. Renowned for his exemplary work ethics, honesty, and integrity, Captain Michael generously shares his extensive knowledge and actively promotes safe boating practices. His commitment extends to volunteering for numerous marine organizations and mentoring young marine professionals, emphasizing the importance of ABYC standards. With a career marked by positive reviews, Captain Michael is highly respected for his professionalism and respectful demeanor and is recommended for anyone seeking expert guidance in the field.

Tim Murphy – Kingman Yacht Center

Tim Murphy, a certified technician in Zeus pids, Volvo IPS, Detroit, and Caterpillar. He has additional training in Cummins, Yanmar, and Volvo. Tim excels in customer communication, ensuring clients understand and feel confident about repairs and costs. Known for resolving even the most obscure issues correctly on the first attempt, Tim is a trusted and dependable technician. His conscientious approach extends beyond diesel mechanics to encompass electrical, hydraulic, and HVAC systems. Tim’s dedication is evident in his flawless execution of complex tasks. A pillar of reliability, he is a fundamental support for both colleagues and customers, always ready to assist and share his extensive knowledge.

Jason Ustaszewski– Cape Marine Survey

Jason Ustaszewski is a highly qualified ABYC Certified Master Marine Technician with specializations in Gasoline, Corrosion, and Standards, and holds additional certifications from Chapman’s School of Seamanship in Y&SC Surveying, Damage & Claims, and Marine Accident Investigation. He also boasts certifications from MMI Orlando as a Marine Technician Specialist, Mercruiser Merc-Tech, and Watercraft Technician. A Mobile Marine Tech and IAMI Certified Marine Investigator, Jason is recognized as an outstanding marine technician and surveyor.

Brian Vandeyacht – Irish Boat Shop

Brian Vandeyacht, a certified ABYC Master Technician with additional certifications from Mercury, Yanmar, Hinckley, and Raymarine, boasts 36 years of service at Irish Boat Shop. Renowned for his professionalism and expertise, Brian excels in delivering flawless workmanship and prioritizes safety in all his tasks. His extensive knowledge spans various technical disciplines, including electrical systems, diesel engines, and marine electronics, enhanced by his sailing and ocean racing background. As a mentor to younger technicians, Brian’s guidance helps cultivate their skills to high standards. Known for his exemplary work ethic, reliability, and precise time management, Brian is a trusted expert in the industry, adept at handling everything from complex electrical issues and sailboat rigging to routine maintenance with unwavering dedication to excellence.

New Achiever: Alex Harlow – Harborside Marina

At only 21, Alex is the youngest full-time marine technician at Harborside Marina, boasting certifications in Yamaha Marine Technician, Yamaha Inline Engine Systems, Bennett Integrated Helm Control, NMEA Basic Marine Electronics Installer Training, and Volvo Penta Online Training Courses. He joined the team in 2022 after impressing with his self-taught rebuild of a 1994 Formula. Alex’s innate skill and dedication quickly secured him a permanent role, making him a vital and lifelong member of the Harborside family. In his tenure, Alex has excelled in various key areas, including professional skill, mentorship, passion, positivity, and quality of work, demonstrating significant growth in his field.

New Achiever: Jack Truett – Truett Marine Services

Jack Truett, a Landing School graduate and ABYC Master Technician, has excelled in marine technology from a young age. Starting in boatyard work at just eight years old and working as a yard hand during high school, Jack demonstrated early aptitude by completely refurbishing a 1979 F250 at 15. His exceptional skills were further honed at the Landing School in Maine, where he graduated at the top of his class and earned a certificate in Marine Systems. He holds ABYC certifications in Systems, Diesel, and Electrical. Recently, Jack managed a $160K electrical refit on a Hatteras 53, earning high praise from the owner. His impressive credentials and outstanding technical, communication, and interpersonal skills make him a distinguished technician at just 21 years old.

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