About us

Joe Neber

Owner, President

Although slow to admit it, Joe was destined for boatbuilding. As an avid free diver and spearfisherman growing up in Miami, the Oceans of South Florida were his life. When presented with an offer to work for a prominent boatbuilder at the time, Joe jumped on the opportunity. After a few years, the company he was working for changed hands and things went south giving Joe the jumpstart he needed to start Contender Boats in 1984. Equipped with a passion for diving and sportfishing along with a wealth of knowledge and understanding of what it took to make a high-performance fishing machine, Joe got to work building the iconic boats Contender is known for today. Highly competitive by nature, he’s never settled – constantly pushing the envelope in performance, quality, fishability and innovation. Beyond his contributions to the boating industry, Joe is also a strong supporter of the fishing community sitting on various boards and advisory councils. He is also a fierce conservationist fighting hard to protect both the sport and the resource for generations to come.

Kenny Pontari


After 35 years in the marine industry, Contender was thrilled to welcome Kenny to the team as VP of Manufacturing. Kenny brings a wealth of experience both as a Captain as well as a boatbuilder. Pursuing a lifelong love for fishing, Kenny earned his Captain’s license at the age of 20 and ran a charter boat out of Sailfish Marina. He then took a private job running a sportfishing boat for 18 years fishing and traveling all over the world. Kenny also worked at Viking Yacht Company first as GM for their Northern Service center and then as production manager. Kenny is most excited to see the opening of Contender’s new factory in Fort Pierce which will allow the team to expand capabilities and continue to push new methods and techniques in the manufacturing process. Kenny’s passion is running his 25BAY through the back country fishing with his family and running the C1 tournament boat in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
Contender Headshots

Steve Cunningham


Steve has spent the majority of his 40-year career in the fishing industry with Contender Boats. Formerly, the VP of Operations, he has returned to Contender after a brief sabbatical to take on a very special project. Equipped with the expertise of running boatbuilding operations, Steve has been tasked with designing, building, and ultimately running Contender’s new factory in Fort Pierce. All boats 32 feet and down will be produced in that facility. An accomplished tournament captain and legendary boat operator, Steve has been an integral part of Contender’s legacy.

David Pliske

Quality Assurance

David was born and raised in South Miami and has spent his entire life on the water, first exploring Biscayne Bay and then working with his father in his yacht maintenance and delivery business. David’s love for the water led him to the United States Naval Academy where he played football and graduated with the class of 1993. Soon after graduation, David launched his 22-year career as a yacht surveyor. David has been an extension of the Contender team for 20+ years and recently joined full time as Quality Assurance Manager. David is most excited about bringing his inherent attention to detail and 20+ years of yacht surveying experience to Contender to ensure that they continue to produce the finest fishing machines on the water.
Contender Headshots

Tony Novelli

NE Sales

Tony has served as the NE Sales Manager for the past 11 years. He has gotten to see a ton of innovation in those 11 years and is most excited about the tenacity that the team has for staying relevant and competitive, always charging forward with new ideas on how to make a world class product even better. A lifelong lover of the outdoors, Tony has fished on Contenders from Massechusetts to the keys, but most treasures impromptu crabbing trips with his family on his 25BAY. Tony also serves on the board of the Recreational Fishing Alliance where he works fiercely to protect the rights of recreational anglers.

Rob Sabin

SE Sales

Rob started his 11-year career at Costa Sunglasses after graduating from the University of Alabama. Starting as the Collegiate Marketing Manager and then as a territory sales rep, Rob quickly raised through the ranks to become the Southeastern Regional Sales Manager leading a team of 30 reps who managed the business from Virginia to Texas. Having owned multiple Contender boats, Rob has long appreciated and admired the Contender brand and product. When presented with a chance to join the team as their Southern US Sales Manager, Rob jumped on the opportunity. Rob’s passion is offshore tournament fishing in his 39ST which marries his love of the outdoors and his competitive spirit. He is thrilled to work with a brand and product he believes in not only because of the fishability, design and finish of their products, but also because of Contender’s brand legacy and their commitment to conservation.

Jessica Ocasio

Sales Administration

Growing up in Miami, Jessica was introduced to the ocean at an early age fishing and boating with her grandfather and that love has grown throughout her life. She joined the Contender team 11 years ago and serves as Sales Admin where she plays a vital role in the ordering and boat building process. Jess has fond memories on Contender boats including catching her first blue marlin in San Sal and island hopping throughout the keys and the Bahamas. Because of her experiences, she has an immense sense of pride each time a customer takes delivery of their first (or tenth) Contender, helping to make their dreams come true. In addition to helping people, Jess is also passionate about protecting the waters she loves. She has served as President of her local CCA and feels strongly about conserving the resource for generations to come.
Contender Headshots

Maria Cordova


Chris Becker

Naval Architect, Engineer

Chris was destined for boatbuilding. Having spent much of his youth doodling boats and growing up on the water of New York, he decided to pursue his degree in Naval Architecture at the prestigious Webb Institute. Upon graduation, Chris worked for several yacht design and naval architecture firms before joining the Contender team. Now serving as Director of Engineering and Naval Architect, Chris has spent the past 11 years working side by side with Owner Joe Neber to design the best fishing center consoles on the water. Chris loves building upon Contender’s iconic and best in class hull designs to constantly push the envelope of fishability and performance to create center consoles that run every bit as good as they look. When not designing boats, Chris can be found fishing and cruising around the Florida Keys in his Contender 25BAY.

Jordan DeLong


A true “Conch”, Jordan was born and raised in the Florida Keys and is a lifelong boater. He started his career in the marine industry as a law enforcement officer aboard a Contender patrol boat. In 2013 Jordan entered the private sector as the Head of Service and Warranty for Contender Boats. He then moved into his current role in Sales and Marketing where he specializes in Contender’s event and pro program management. Throughout his tenure he has overseen many of the aspects of building, service, and sales of countless boats. On the weekends you can most likely find Jordan aboard a Contender offshore fishing.

Amanda Sabin


Amanda owes her love of fishing to her father who taught her the value of conservation and stewardship for both the resource and the sport. That passion for fishing led Sabin to Costa Sunglasses where she served as the Senior Brand and Community Manager for 11 years. She now proudly heads up the marketing efforts at Contender Boats, a brand and a product she has long admired. A University of Florida alum, she received her B.A. in Business and her Master’s in International Business. Amanda serves on the Board of Trustees for the International Gamefish Association (IGFA) and is the Chair of their education committee which spearheads initiatives to introduce young anglers to the sport of fishing. Some of Amanda’s angling pursuits include securing an IGFA Royal Slam in 2018 and fishing as a member of C1, Contender’s tournament team. Nothing brings her more joy than empowering youth and females to pursue their passions in the outdoors while instilling lifelong values of sustainability and respect for the resource.