Three and a half years after founding the nonprofit organization to unite the go-fast boat enthusiasts in West Michigan both on and off the water, Chris Dekker, West Michigan Offshore’s president, announced it was time to pass on the torch. In doing so, the 250-plus WMO members and its five-person volunteer board elected a more than willing and capable successor in Roger Zuidema, the club’s former business manager.
Since WMO was founded by Chris Dekker (left), the club’s next president, Roger Zuidema (right), has been working side by side with Dekker to promote the nonprofit organization. Photos courtesy Roger Zuidema
Joining three current board members—Corey Hoff, vice president and membership, Curt Dekam, chief financial officer, and Scott Otterbein, marketing manager—Zuidema is excited about the move from business manager to president, as well as the appointment of Cheryl Houda into the business manager role.
“Anyone who knows me, knows I am very passionate about this industry and the charitable aspects that come from it,” said Zuidema, who is a teacher, coach and media relations professional currently teaching at Hudsonville Public Schools. “I’m excited to continue to keep the club growing, get the word out even more and show people what WMO is all about—uniting boaters and raising money for those less fortunate. Our goals heading into next season and beyond are to keep listening to our members to see what they want in terms of events and to continue to improve safety protocols, communication efforts and more.
“Chris Dekker and the others who have served on the board laid the groundwork for this organization and our job is to continue to grow all of the systems we have in place between the safety aspects, promotions, charitable avenues and more,” he continued. “Chris put so much work into the bylaws, policies and codes of conduct that he’s made my job easier. I consider him a great friend and he’ll definitely be a part of my cabinet.”
Although he refers to the organization as “his baby,” Dekker said the decision to step down was easy—mainly because that’s the way the club was set up and because he never set out to be an event organizer. On purpose, according to Dekker, the organization’s board has term limits so that there should always be healthy transition of board members to spur new ideas and keep things moving forward.
“The club is in great hands—Roger shares the same mission to keep fees low, keep everything charitable and keep the events accessible to all boaters whether they have a 20-foot sportboat or a million-dollar cat,” Dekker said. “I want to congratulate him and Cheryl for their appointments, and thank everyone else who ran and/or submitted their names as nominees. It’s going to be a great 2019 season; I have no doubt about it.
“There is still so much excitement behind WMO that I can’t wait to see how it grows,” he added. “It is kind of my baby—I lived, slept and breathed WMO for the past few years. I have total faith in the next board; it is a stellar group. I know they’re going to keep coming up with new ideas. And I’ve already promised them I won’t be a hoverer. Dekker Web Solutions is a club sponsor and will continue to be 100-percent supportive of WMO.”
For now, Zuidema said the focus is on plans for the Grand Rapids Boat Show in February. He took a leading role in WMO’s involvement in the show two years ago, and now the club’s display is a highlight of the show, which is set to take place for the 74th time Feb. 13-17, 2019.
He said he’s also looking forward to getting input from Houda, a passionate boater and the first female to sit on the board. As a financial analyst with Cascade Engineering, Houda, who joined WMO last year after her and her husband, Sanders, purchased their 42-foot Fountain Powerboats V-bottom, leads efforts in process improvements, streamlining operation systems and working with business teams to build an open and profitable work environment. That expertise, coupled with her passion for fast boats and cars, makes her a perfect addition to the team.
“Being a coach and a teacher, the whole team thing is big for me,” Zuidema said. “I’m not here to coach anyone but I am here to lead a team. Those of us on the WMO board are in this together just like any other team.”