Two of the most recognizable hairdos in the world came face-to-face Monday when Jimmy Houston, representing Ranger Boats, met President Donald Trump at a White House function heralding American products.
“When he walked up, I told him, ‘I like your hair,’” Houston said. “He said, ‘Well, I like yours, too.’”
Houston and a limited-edition Ranger Z521L ICON were on the White House South Lawn for Trump’s 2018 Made in America Product Showcase. Manufacturing companies from each of the 50 states were recognized in Washington, D.C., and Ranger Boats was there to represent the tiny north central Arkansas town of Flippin, birthplace of the bass boat.
“It’s a very cool honor for those of us here in small, little Flippin Arkansas,” Ranger Marketing Director Matt Raynor said. “To be able to represent the state, and even just the sport of fishing, is great. If you’ve been to the Classic and ICAST this year, you know the industry is as healthy as it’s been in a long time, and it’s good to be a part of that.”
Raynor said the entire visit came together in the past several weeks. The Bass Pro Shops corporate office in Springfield, Mo., was sent a request to get a Ranger boat to Washington, D.C. Brian and Chris Lancaster of Mid-Atlantic’s Bass Boat Headquarters (MARE) were contacted and brought the latest and greatest Ranger.
“MARE on the East Coast kind of handles that for us, and we worked with Jimmy to help represent the brand,” Raynor said. “Everybody knows and loves Jimmy. He left a family vacation, which I’m sure wasn’t the end of the world for him, but all his kids and grandkids are down at Disney.”
One can only imagine Houston’s cackling laugh reverberating about the White House grounds, and President Trump telling him the all-American products like Ranger are “Yuuuge” for his effort to “Make America Great Again.”
Houston’s above photo shows Trump pointing toward the stern of the boat, and Ranger’s Facebook post asking for captions received a boatload of comments. Several were spot on.
“One of the things he asked me, ‘What is the boat made of?’ ‘Metal flake fiberglass.’ And then he asked about the motor,” Houston said. “I told that was a Mercury motor, made in America also, and just everything on that boat is made in America, the trolling motor, the batteries, the locators.”
The funny came when Houston set up Trump by telling him that the boat could beat the F-135 jet that sat right beside it.
“I know you’re big in military, Mr. Trump, but this bass boat will outrun that jet. He said, ‘I don’t think so.’ ‘Well, it will on the Potomac River,’” Houston said with his familiar laugh.
During a White House news conference Monday promoting the event, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave a shout out to her home state, where she grew up and her father served as governor from 1996-2007.
“The President is committed to policies that ensure more products are made in America,” Sanders said. “Today, we will see items like snowboards made by Never Summer Industries in Colorado … and baseball bats made by BWP Bats in Pennsylvania. And a personal favorite, Ranger Boats from Flippin, Arkansas, is also here.”
Rangers Boats have long been associated with B.A.S.S. In the early years, Ranger was the sole boat sponsor of the Bassmaster Tour and Classic. For years, Rangers provided identically rigged boats for the Classic competitors. And it seemed fitting that a brand sharing its golden anniversary with B.A.S.S. had its latest and greatest product showcased.
“It’s very cool,” Raynor said. “It’s such an honor to be selected for something like that. Of course, our company is very proudly American, Arkansan.
“Our company was founded 50 years ago by Forrest and Nina Wood, and the name Ranger actually came from their admiration of the Texas Rangers and the Army Rangers. He was a patriotic guy at heart, and that’s what a big part of who Ranger is and was founded on.”
Houston said he was thrilled to visit with President Trump at the White House.
“It was just a big deal, a really, really cool deal,” he said. “It’s a tremendous honor. I put up a post on my Facebook, thanking Ranger Boat Company and thanking Johnny Morris. My buddy Johnny has been a friend for over 50 years. It’s an honor to go there and represent them.”
It was certainly an interesting start of the week for the two-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year.
“Aint that something,” he said while getting on a Disney ride with some of his 13 children and grandchildren Tuesday. “The White House one day and Disney the next. That’s as American as you can get.”