By Len Bose
It’s Wednesday, it’s windy, raining and I just made it through my morning sales calls. Now, I have to write my harbor column. Everyone knows where to get a weather report and that the Ensenada Race starts this weekend. I asked myself, what else is coming up soon? Our yacht club's opening day, yeah that’s it, and who is busy between everyone getting ready for the Ensenada Race and Opening Day. Gordo, That’s it! Gordon “Gordo” Christie, the operations manager at West Marine. So, I grab my tape recorder and camera, and drop in on Gordo.
For the people that don't know Gordo, he has been the "go to" person at our West Marine store for the last four years. He has been the Jay Carson, the Gordon West, your favorite bank manager, bartender ... get the idea?
“Hey Gordo, how are you doing?” I said as I approached him in the middle of the store. “I would like to take a half hour of your time and do an interview with you for my “Daily Voice” harbor column?"
After a couple of, “why me” questions from Gordon, I simply explained that everyone in the bay will be walking in the doors within the next couple of weeks looking for him. The first thing I found out was that Gordo was leaving West Marine! YEP! “Gordo, say it isn’t so!” Now what am I going to do? “Its okay Len, the store has lots of good help right now. Do you still want to interview me?” “Of course I do, even more so, now,” I replied.
I came to find out that Gordon is responsible for keeping "the stuff on the shelves” as he would say. When asked what is his favorite part of the job? “It's running into all my old friends. It feels like it's just been a couple of weeks since I have seen them. When it’s truly been a number of years. The hardest part of the job is just keeping a finger on the market. One never knows when someone from a big job will walk in and clean out the shelf of an item. I can always guarantee you that on that same day, someone else will walk in and want that same product. What do you mean you're out of Simple Green? It goes without failing, every time."
So, how can a person receive the fastest service? Before you come into the store go online to the West Marine catalog and bring in the parts number. Or Google the manufacturer and find the information from the manufacturer's Web site. What if you are on the boat and come straight into the store? Gordon recommends that you take a photo of the part you are looking for with your phone camera. “You would be surprised how much time that saves everyone.” This is a great idea. Nothing makes me more upset when I buy the wrong part for something and have to return to the store. What else should our readers do Gordo? “Don't forget your list on the boat,” he replied with a contagious laugh.
If you were to give advice on safety or what not to forget to place on your boat, what would it be? “Stay compliant, be ready for the worse and keep an eye on the horizon. I strongly suggest that everyone own a POB or EPRIB. They are only $400 and they will save your life. Remember to wear your life jacket and also remember Slip, Slap, Slop. Slip on a long sleeve t-shirt, Slap on a hat and your sunglass, and Slop on the sun screen.” Anything else? “Yeah, don’t forget your pocket knife, flash light and the TP!”
Because Gordon is in the pulse of the industry, I asked him if he has seen a difference in sales between this year and last? “This store has done well with a drop in sales of only 4-5% last year. This year, we are doing better and I think the industry is doing well because I noticed a lot more people calling in and stopping by, asking us where the Boat show was last week. I can also tell when things are getting busier in the harbor by the amount of TP we sell."
So what does Gordon do with his time off? “I like to hang upside down and let my feet rest. I also like surf fishing, I find it very relaxing. I also race a couple of times a year; the Long Point Race is the best race in the world."
What will you be doing for work in a couple of weeks? “I'll be going into the yacht maintenance business. I have learned a lot while working here over the last four years, and I will be doing everything from wash downs to general management."
One thing is for sure – Gordon will know who to call. Speaking of who to call. Gordon, if you're leaving who is our new go to guy? "The tall guy, Mark White will be the new go to person. The store also has Jordan Susman the son of Joan & Stan Susman." I kind of like this kid because when Gordon introduced me to him he recognized my name and told me it was a pleasure to meet me. Something tells me Jordan will be the next go to guy. Gordon also pointed out a Gold Tech pin he had on his nametag. I never knew West Marine sent their associates to tech school? I have to keep this in mind the next time I'm in the store.
Well Gordo, I am sad to see you go! “Len you are not going to get rid of me that easy, I'll still see ya' around the harbor.” For anyone that needs a maintenance guy, Gordon is your guy! You can reach him at (949) 230-8350.
Thanks for reading!
Len Bose is a contributing writer to The Daily Voice and owner of Len Bose Yacht Sales.