Please select your home edition
Edition
Zhik ZKG

NMMA honours Gordon Houser

by Bob Wonders on 22 Mar 2011
Very much a rose betwene two thorns, Vida Houser with husband Gordon (left) and colleague Bob Black. Bob Wonders
The name Gordon Houser may not be all that familiar outside the United States, but within the American boating industry C. (for Charles) Gordon Houser enjoys legendary status.

During the recent Miami International Boat Show, both the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) And Marine Marketers of America (MMA) were on hand to pay tribute to the man recognised as an ‘industry trailblazer.’

It’s a mark of the respect in which Gordon is held that the two awards presented to him had never previously been presented; the NMMA honoured him with a Lifetime Boat Show Pass, while the MMA backed it up with the inaugural Neptune Lifetime Achievement Award.

Prior to his arrival at the show, Gordon’s family and friends also joined in to pay their own tribute to the ‘silver fox’ on the occasion of his 80th birthday (February 12) and I was privileged to be at the memorable celebration in Sarasota, Florida.

Gordon and his wife, Vida, certainly proved gracious hosts and it’s as well the 80-year-old boasts good sense of humour; outside the Houser home was a sign erected by family members which stated, ’80 is not old, if you’re a tree’.

It has been my honour to call Gordon a friend for more than 20-years and I could not have been more pleased than to be there to mark his 80th.

Gordon and Vida Houser can only be termed a magnificently-matched couple.

It’s the second marriage for both; Vida’s first husband was the legendary offshore powerboat racer Bill Sirios, whom I met several years ago when he was throttleman for the late Al Copeland and the legendary Popeye’s championship team.

Bill passed away nearly 15-years ago.

Gordon and Vida married nine-years ago and as I said reside in Sarasota, not far from three of Gordon’s former places of work, Wellcraft, Chris-Craft and Donzi.

Gordon Houser has been involved wit the boating industry for more than 55-years!

He had joined the Thompson Boat Company which later acquired the famous Chris-Craft marque and Gordon was to become in turn its marketing manager, marketing director and vice-president.

Gordon Houser then joined forces with another man who easily identifies as an industry legend, Dick Genth (another former offshore racer of note who succumbed to cancer aged 77 in 2002) and the pair took over performance boat specialist Donzi Marine.

Gordon served in management roles with Donzi until it was acquired by the former OMC (Outboard Marine Corporation).

He then joined the Wellcraft Corporation, serving as President of its High-Performance Group, later as marketing Vice President and eventually as head of marketing for the Genmar Group.

He retired from Wellcraft in 2004.

So where did Gordon Houser earn his reputation as a ‘trailblazer’?

For a start, he is credited with being the first ‘boat salesman’ to realise that advertising in non-boating media, such as The Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek and the New Yorker proved productive to selling boats.

It is widely believed that Gordon Houser almost single-handedly made recreational boating more appealing to millions of middle-class Americans.

He pioneered the use of ‘schools’ to help sell boats.

By schools I mean such programs as the Wellcraft Offshore Boot Camp for new Scarab owners, the Wellcraft Offshore Fishing School and the Genmar Backwater Fishing School.

When the spectacular Universal Theme Park opened in Orlando, Gordon saw it as another means to sell boats and introduced the Scarab jet boat races which not only drew crowds, but sold boats.

Hollywood was also targeted by the innovative marketing ‘guru’ and he was to serve as technical adviser on boating scene for a number of movies.

He lists some his fondest memories as playing cards with late movie great Henry Fonda and teaching the Tonight Show’s Johnny Carson’s sidekick Ed McMahon how to handle a high-performance boat.

Gordon Houser not surprisingly rates marketing as his ‘passion.’

He describes it as 'a multi-disciplined occupation.'

'In boating, you need to be part of the sales department to know what’s moving and what isn’t; part of the engineering department to understand what’s special and how it works, part of new products planning, part of the public relations and a big part of the advertising,' he explained.



Gordon Houser also devoted himself to serving the industry in other ways; he has been on a number of NMMA committees including the all-important Boat Shows Committees where he served two terms, one as chairman.

'I believe we clearly demonstrated that boat shows are one of the most efficient ways to market boats,' he said.

Wanda Kenton Smith, president of Marine Marketers of America, called on another industry identity almost as well-known as Houser to present the Neptune award.

The honour went to Bob Black, a life-long friend and colleague (and sparring partner!) of Gordon Houser.

Introducing Houser, Wanda Kenton Smith said the MMA was 'very proud to present this distinguished award to one of our industry’s marketing and promotional giants, a man who has been an inspiration to many of us.'

Earlier that day, at the annual marine industry breakfast, NMMA Executive Vice President Ben Wold was the one making another presentation to Gordon Houser.

This, too, had never been done before.

The NMMA presented Gordon with a Lifetime Boat Show Pass, perhaps only a token gesture (I can’t imagine C.G.Houser ever being refused admission to a US boat show), but it was genuine recognition of a man who has well and truly made his mark.


North Technology - Southern SparsZhik Yachting 660x82upffront 660x82

Related Articles

Rio 2016 - America's Cup champ says Paralympic racing is closest ever
Twice America’s Cup champion, Rick Dodson is extremely impressed with the standard of racing in the three man Sonar Twice America’s Cup champion, Rick Dodson is extremely impressed with the standard of racing in the three man Sonar keelboat class at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. The regatta is being held in Guanabara Bay on three of the courses used for the Olympic Sailing Regatta in August.
Posted on 13 Sep
Debriefing the Rio 2016 Olympics with Team USA’s Helena Scutt
I talked with Team USA’s Helena Scutt to hear about her Olympic experience, and to learn more about her post-Rio plans. The 49erFX was introduced to Olympic circles when it replaced the Women’s Match Racing event following the 2012 Games. Not surprisingly, it drew high-performance sailors for the Rio 2016 Olympics, including Team USA’s Paris Henken and Helena Scutt. While Henken and Scutt were Olympic first-timers, they put on a strong show. I caught up with Scutt to hear more about her Olympic experience.
Posted on 8 Sep
A Q&A with Peter Bresnan ONE Palma’s founder and director
Sail-World interviewed ONE Palma’s founder Peter Bresnan to learn about the company’s partnership with McConaghy Boats For the past eight years, ONE Palma (formerly OneSails Spain) has been building a strong name, first as a sailmaker and later with refit work. Recently, ONE Palma and McConaghy Boats-legendary boatbuilders who have crafted some of the planet’s fastest sailboats-entered a business partnership. I caught up with Peter Bresnan, ONE Palma’s founder and director, to learn more about this new direction.
Posted on 2 Sep
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ train late on the Waitemata Harbour
Emirates Team NZ were out for a training session that ran into the early Thursday evening. Emirates Team NZ were out for a training session that ran into the early Thursday evening. The team were sailing their recently launched AC45 Surrogate test boat which features an articulated rudder gantry - taking the AC45 close to the geometry of the AC50 to be used in the 2017 America's Cup.
Posted on 1 Sep
Dateline Rio - Sailing Olympics review - as good as it gets?
The Rio Sailing Olympics was widely judged to have been the best of recent times. The Rio Sailing Olympics was widely judged to have been the best of recent times. The weather was better than Weymouth and Qingdao, the courses more varied, but from a working media perspective, it was the people running the Rio regatta who really made the difference.
Posted on 26 Aug
Rio 2016 - Plain speaking by triple-medalist on Olympic sailing moves
Triple Olympic medalist, Santiago Lange has been on the sharp end of changes made to Olympic classes and formats Santiago Lange, a six-time Olympian and Bronze medallist in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, won his third medal – Gold sailing in the Nacra 17 class. With that length of experience at an Olympic level, having sailed the Laser, Tornado and now Nacra 17 classes his comments on the future shape of the Olympic regatta was one of the highlights of the Medallists Media Conferences.
Posted on 25 Aug
An Q&A with Steve and Heidi Benjamin about the NYYC’s 2016 Queen’s Cup
Sail-World caught up with Steve and Heidi Benjamin to learn more about Heidi’s historic win in the NYYC’s Queen’s Cup. When it comes to U.S. Grand Prix sailing, it’s hard not to encounter the names of Steve and Heidi Benjamin. The two highly polished sailors have been successfully campaigning their series of yachts, named SPOOKIE, for years, starting first with a Carkeek 40 and progressing to their TP52. I caught up with Steve and Heidi to learn more about Heidi’s historic win in the NYYC’s Queen’s Cup
Posted on 19 Aug
Rio 2016 - Images of the penultimate race in the Finns - Scott wins
Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn, in what potentially could have been Giles Scott's (GBR) Gold medal winning race. In the end, the current world champion won in style.
Posted on 15 Aug
Rio 2016 - Images from the Mens RS:X Medal Race
Sail-World's NZ Editor, Richard Gladwell, was on the water at the Medal Race for the RS:X class Sail-World's NZ Editor, Richard Gladwell, was on the water at the Medal Race for the RS:X class won before the race by Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED) without needing points from the Medal Race. Nick Dempsey (GBR) was second on a similar basis.
Posted on 15 Aug
Rio 2016 - Sailors talk of Life at the Extreme on the Atlantic Ocean
Certainly the Volvo Ocean Race catchcry of Life at the Extreme is not a phrase associated with the Sailing Olympics. The 470 crews were suffering the mixed emotions of survival of an extreme test by nature, the cold, and for some elation at their placings, after Thursday's battle for survival. In conditions that looked more out of the Volvo Ocean Race, than an Olympic sailing regatta, crews battled 20kt plus winds and Atlantic Ocean rollers that towered up to four metres.
Posted on 13 Aug