A Guy on a Roll

Strolling the aisles of a boat show, a chance encounter with a salesman’s salesman and his Rescue Tape.

Tape Man

Ron Cordas, vice president of sales with Harbor Products, can't say enough about his Rescue Tape.Mark Pillsbury

OK, confession time. I go to a lot of boat shows; it’s a very enjoyable hazard of my chosen profession. And yes it’s a blast to look at new boats, handle the latest gear, try out demo models—you get the idea.

But here’s a little secret I need to share: from time to time I sneak away to those other booths. You know the ones I mean: there’s a guy sitting there, surrounded by broken screws, talking into a headset mic, his voice scratchy from either the cheap speaker or, perhaps, too much scotch and smokes. Or maybe he’s showing off all sorts of little wires and the device with which you can twist them this way and that to close off a leaking hose.

Honestly, I could watch all day as some lady pours Coke onto a square of carpet and then soaks it all back up with a bright orange shammie. I mean, wow.

Have you seen the chef sauté without oil, on a hopelessly high-flaming burner, and nothing sticks to the pan? And how in heck do you take a carving knife and cut through a can and a chunk of wood, and then slice a tomato that finely, anyway?

I hear the pitch and I’m hooked. I’m the guy still standing there when just about everyone else has wandered away.

And so it was, one afternoon this past winter in Miami, that I found myself standing face to face with the fellow that I’d hazard could write the book on how to sell you things you never knew you needed. But immediately want.

Here’s what happened. I was walking the halls of the cavernous convention center and was stopped dead in my tracks by a set of Fire Wire Flexible Grilling Skewers. “I’ve got to have these,” I thought to myself as I read the packaging: “100 percent stainless steel…” “Marinating Made Easy…” “Holds More than Twice as Much Food as a Regular Skewer…”

In a sec, Ron Cordas was at my side, dressed natily in a white shirt, shorts and sandals, looking successful, smiling, and ready to talk. About anything.

In no time, we’d moved down the display to the Techni Ice, heavy duty re-useable hot and cold pads. There were the various sizes of adjustable plastic Cable Clamps piled on the table. And there, at the end, a rack of Hurricane Tape—a product that has the potential to save any sailor from the stigma of taping together sails and other boat parts with that old, gray duct tape. “There is nothing stronger or tougher,” is the bold claim on the packaging.

Or, as Ron, himself once a liveaboard, put it, “Its white so you don’t look like a moron in the marina.”

Neat as all these potential must-haves were, though, they weren't what Ron, the V.P. of sales for Harbor Products, really wanted me to eventually write about. In fact, most of these items were only on display because the space had become available at a price that was un-refuseable. Rescue Tape is his golden goose, and according to Ron, it is the top selling silicone tape available. And he had piles of it just across the aisle on his big table, where a small group had gathered to watch an associate go through the pitch.

I readily admitted to being a fan and user, thanks to some samples sent to CW some time back. Heck, I’d found all sort of uses for the self-fusing, heat resistant, water-tight tape. He didn’t have sell me on it. But of course, he did, before sending me packing with a complimentary cooler filled with rolls, clamps and ice packs.