Richard Schwartz, Chairman and Founder of Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS,) has announced his retirement. Schwartz ran BoatUS for 47 years and will leave the association in the hands of BoatUS president Margaret Bonds Podlich. He plans to stay on as Chairman of the BoatUS Board of Directors and Chairman of the BoatUS National Advisory Council.
As Schwartz shoves off into the sea of retirement, the 83-year-old leave his length legacy to continue growing on shore. He was inspired to change the boating industry in the 1960s, after what began as a day of recreational boating with a friend. His friend was issued a ticket for improper engine compartment ventilation, which turned out to be a problem with the boat’s construction. Schwartz was just starting out as an anti-trust attorney but he saw a need for boater legal representation. Hence, BoatUS was born and Schwartz was determined to bolster support in "service, savings and representation” for recreational boaters.
His influence didn't stop there. Created in 1967, the BoatUS Marine Insurance Program provided boat policies for recreational boaters, a first in the industry. The program is based on Schwartz’s translation of boat policy from the then-standard outdated language to clear terms. From that program came Seaworthy, a publication for advice on avoiding claims and injuries. Today, BoatUS has a magazine also, called BoatUS Magazine.
Schwartz helped shape the Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971, which allows the US Coast Guard to penalize boat manufacturers when boats don’t meet certain safety standards. The legislation created the US Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety as well. Throughout the 1970s, Schwartz created the only Consumer Protection Bureau to help boaters seek redress against manufacturers and businesses, including a Dispute Mediation Program.
By the early 1990s, BoatUS expanded to various sectors of the boating world, including a chain of 62 retail stores under the same name. In time, Schwartz formed the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water, a nonprofit foundation that provides online boating safety courses and lifejackets for children. In the 1980s, Schwartz added BoatUS Towing Services to the association.
For his crucial contributions to the industy Schwartz won several awards including the Council's Hall of Fame Award (1995); the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators' Annual Award (1983) and Lifetime Achievement Award (1999); the US Coast Guard's Distinguished Public Service Commendation (2000); the US Power Squadron's Raymond A. Finlay Sea Scout Service Award (2005); and the National Marine Manufacturers Association's Charles S. Chapman Award (2006).