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‘Ambassador’ to the marine industry - Soundings Online

‘Ambassador’ to the marine industry

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During his 50-plus years in the marine industry Jerry Martin stepped up to the fore as a public relations professional, an advocate and an ambassador.

During his 50-plus years in the marine industry Jerry Martin stepped up to the fore as a public relations professional, an advocate and an ambassador.

“He did business the old way — with a handshake,” says Tom Weslager, who worked with Martin for several years. “He was a positive thinker. He always said when one door closes, another one opens.”

Martin, also a founding member of the Marine Retailers Association of America, died June 15. He was 79.

He was born in Cleveland in 1927, the only boy of five children, and the son of a salesman.

After couple of stints in the military, Martin landed his first job in the boating business in 1955, as Johnson Motors’ first sales promotion manager.

He recognized a need for a liaison between manufacturers and boating magazine editors, and founded a public relations company in 1962, the Jerry Martin Co.

In 1972 Martin gathered with more than 200 boat dealers in a Chicago hotel to hash out ideas for a new association, and the MRAA was born. Martin served as director of development for many years.

He also found pleasure and satisfaction in traveling the world as a quasi-ambassador for boating. On the international scene, Martin was instrumental in the first boat show to take place in Malaysia, as well as exhibiting at the first Shanghai show.

Martin briefly left his public relations agency in his daughter Laura’s hands while he pursued other interests. The company was renamed Martin Flory Group. He later opened up his own firm, Jerry Martin Co., located in the same town as his daughter’s agency. The two agencies operated as separate entities for five years.

In June, Martin and daughter Laura announced they were merging agencies and would operate the company under the Martin Flory moniker.

He died the day after he and Laura announced their reunion.

Friends say he had been ill for some time, but continued to find energy in the activities of his beloved marine industry. Martin is survived by his wife of 54 years, Barbara, his seven children, 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.