2012 HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE: MIKE HODSON
Mike first started working in the marine industry in the mid-1970s when, as a qualified radio engineer with the navy, he worked part-time for Electronic Navigation Ltd, a small company servicing the commercial fishing industry.
By the late 1970s Mike was working full time at ENL and rapidly rising through the ranks, first to sales manager and then to general manager.
A few years later, in the early 1980s, in what was to become a typically courageous and visionary move, he mortgaged everything he owned and bought the company. Quickly recognising the huge potential in the leisure marine market, he set about transforming ENL into a company that comprehensively catered to both the commercial and leisure marine industries.
As part of his strategy, Mike founded what quickly became the country’s most iconic fishing contest, the Furuno Fishing Tournament. First held in 1986 at Waiheke Island’s Onetangi, it enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity. The Furuno, as it was generally known, ran for an incredible 19 years, attracting, at its peak, more than 3000 enthusiastic anglers to its base at Pah Farm on Kawau Island.
Mike also secured the popular Lowrance range for ENL, ensuring the company had a continuously expanding range of marine electronics to entice their growing customer base.
A man of many passions, Mike was one of the first in the industry to recognise the value of training. He instituted in-house training at ENL, helped establish the Boating Industry Training Organisation (now the Marine Industry Training Organisation) and spent 10 years as a BITO board member. In that time, he was also instrumental in creating the Marine Trades Challenge, an increasingly popular event that allows marine industry apprentices to showcase their skills.
Always a man of vision, Mike started a special R&D division at ENL in 1990. This has already paid handsome dividends, resulting in innovative products such as Netlink and the international award winning Wide Angle Sonar Seafloor Profiler (WASSP). This R&D division, together with Mike’s legendary vision and leadership skills, also helped ENL secure a massive multi-million dollar order for the Royal New Zealand Navy’s 7 new Protector vessels.
A natural marketer, Mike made sure that ENL was always a strong exhibitor at the New Zealand Boat Show. Son Gareth remembers how he and his brother were sent to stand at the show gates with Furuno radar domes on their heads, helping raise awareness for the brand and driving patrons to the ENL stand.
It was obviously good training. ENL, now with Gareth as chief executive now exhibits at 14 different boat shows around the world, building on the experience they gained right here.
Although no longer actively involved in the day to day running of ENL, Mike remains a director, continues to share his opinions and offer advice and is still a very, very keen fisherman.