Josh McLean - 2023 Boating Industry 40 Under 40 Honoree
We are proud to announce that Josh McLean, President of David Walters Yachts, has been selected for the seventh annual 40 Under 40 Boating Industry Awards. Out of hundreds of nominations, Josh was handpicked by a panel of judges from Boating Industry Magazine for his exceptional leadership and achievements at David Walters Yachts, as well as his significant influence on the yachting industry.
The Boating Industry 40 Under 40 Award Program has grown into a prestigious event in the industry and provides an excellent platform to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of young professionals in the marine industry. Congratulations Josh on this remarkable accomplishment!
Boating Industry Interview with Josh McLean
What first drew you to the marine industry?
Following my eight-year service flying in the US Air Force and drawing on my memories sailing the Great Lakes as a kid growing up in Michigan, I was looking for a career path that would enable me to tie together my leadership skills and an aspect of my life that I've always been passionate about; boating. At the same time, I wanted a fun and rewarding career with new challenges and people as enthusiastic and driven as I am.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I will always be proud of my eight years of service in the US Air Force. I completed eight combat tours totaling over two years deployed in those years. Flying for Air Force Special Operations Command in the U-28A Draco, I was humbled to fly, live, and fight alongside the most incredible people I'll ever know. There is a bond forged under those conditions that can never be broken and lessons and life experiences that will never fade. I experienced my best and worst days while deployed, but I would never trade either. The importance of our mission and the lives we were entrusted to project will always remain the highlight of my life and my proudest accomplishment.
Did you have any key mentors or influences in your career?
I've been fortunate to be guided by the mentorship of two very important people in my life. Both are legends in the yacht sales industry.
David Walters gave me my first shot in the marine industry. I met Dave just three months after leaving the Air Force. As a Veteran himself, Dave recognized my determination and drive. He brought me under his wing and taught me the core of the industry. Sadly, David passed away in 2018.
Andrew Cilla has always been my sounding board and the first person I call for advice and guidance since taking the helm of David Walters Yachts. He has always offered good sound advice. I owe much of our success to Andrew and am forever grateful for his friendship.
As a young professional, what are the biggest challenges you've faced in the marine industry and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge I faced early in my career was establishing a network. I came into the marine industry as an outsider; my background was not the usual stepping stone, so I had to rely upon my ability to get out there and meet people. I'm not shy, so I took every opportunity to walk the docks, attend industry events and foster relationships with others in various roles.
Through the years, I've cultivated those relationships and made sure to support and grow them in a mutually beneficial way. There are a lot of fantastic professional organizations in our industry. My best advice, get out there and participate in them.
Who was your hero as a child?
My Grandfather was the cornerstone of our family when I was growing up. After serving in the Navy during the Korean War, Grandpa Ben returned and raised a very close-knit and happy family with my grandmother. He lived simply, enjoying the outdoors, finishing on the lakes, hunting during the Fall, and always keeping family first. He worked as a groundskeeper at the local Veterans hospital and was known by everyone as a humble and honest man who worked hard and valued his family. He taught me those values early, and I've kept them central to who I am.
Why should young professionals choose a career in the marine industry?
The most rewarding aspect of a career in the marine industry is that we are here to deliver the dreams and desires of those who share our passion. And when you're excited about what you do each day, and your customers can sense your enthusiasm, it makes everything much more rewarding.
Walking into our waterfront office every morning and feeling the energy around the office, hearing the halyards on the mast through the marina, watching the boats coming and going, and seeing smiles all around reminds me that this "work" is a lot of fun. There are few careers where your passion can be your profession, as in the marine industry.
Josh and the rest of those named in the 2023 Boating Industry 40 Under 40 will be honored in-person later this year, during the invite only Top 100 Awards Gala on the final evening of the Boating Industry ELEVATE SUMMIT in Dallas, Texas. Read all about this the 2023 40 Under 40 honorees here.