Women Making Waves: Nancy Smith


Co-Owner/Vice President, Colorado Boat Center


Associate’s degree in Marketing

Years in the marine industry:


What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?

Almost all businesses have peaks and valleys, but working and living in a rural area of Colorado, I have come to realize that owning a boat dealership is much like farming. The success of our business relies heavily on the weather and economy and being prepared for the unknown is imperative. Now I call us water farmers.

If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?

In February of 2009, I was very fortunate to be in the right place, at the right time. Before my first MRAA board meeting, my son offered a suggestion that MRAA really needed a young leader’s board to generate more participation from the younger generations. Being a new board member, I patiently waited until we got to new business just before the meeting was to adjourn to present the idea. I asked the board to think about it and we could discuss it at the next meeting, but the discussion commenced and it was approved to move forward with what is now known as YLAC. Paul Nickel, Rod Malone and I spent the next eight months creating guidelines, reviewing nominations and applications and finalizing the first group to be known as the Young Leaders Advisory Council for MRAA. We didn’t know what to expect or what direction to take, but the outcome from the first YLAC meeting in November of 2009 made us speechless. Made up of extremely talented and insightful young people, YLAC immediately generated an abundance of energy, enthusiasm and fresh ideas that paved the way for the MRAA that we know today. I am very proud to have been their “den mother” for so many years.

What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry? 

The industry has changed so much, especially over the past 15 years. There have always been a lot of women in the industry, but they often were working on the lines in the manufacturing companies or taking care of the administration details of a small family business. I remember many years ago attending state and national association meetings and being one of the few women in attendance. I had the desire to learn and know more about the industry so that we could grow our business and the industry as a whole. Today, there are many more executive, front-end and ownership opportunities available to those who have the desire and determination to earn them.

What is your favorite place to go boating?

Just thinking about Flaming Gorge in Utah and the Florida Intercoastal always makes me smile.