Gasser Family | 2015 Penguins of the Year

Gasser Family
Gasser Family

    The Gasser Chair Company and the Gasser Family have been long-time supporters of both Youngstown State University and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.
    For their generosity, the Gasser Family is being recognized as the 2015 Penguin of the Year.
    The family annually supports all of our Penguin Club events in many ways. In addition, for over two decades they have supported YSU’s football team as a game program advertiser. The Gasser’s  are one of the select companies and families that are members of the Scholarship Loge Family – cheering on the football team from atop Stambaugh Stadium in the Scholarship Loge complex.
    In November, the family and YSU announced the creation of the George E. Gasser Scholarship as part of the YSU Athletics Scholarship Endowment fund. The scholarship will be awarded annually to a student-athlete who is enrolled in the Williamson College of Business Administration.
    Many of YSU’s athletic facilities, including the Jermaine Hopkins Academic Center, the Watson Family Sports Media Center and the football conference rooms, are furnished with chairs from the Gasser Chair company. They have always been willing to provide YSU student-athletes, coaches and staff with first-class furnishings as part of the athletic facilities on campus.
    Accepting the award on behalf of the Gasser family is Mark Eugene Gasser, the sixth of George and Janet’s eight children.  
    Mark and his wife, Jennifer Lam-Gasser, reside in Hubbard. They have three beautiful daughters: Alison – a sales agent in Los Angeles, Calif.; Taylor – a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati; and Marquette – a student at Miami (Ohio) University.
    Mark, President and member of the Board of Directors of the Gasser Chair Company, is actively involved in other family business interests: Gasser Associates, Chestnut Ridge Park and Mastercraft Industries. He also finds time to serve on the Stambaugh Auditorium Board of Directors and is currently Chairman for their Capital Campaign; he serves on the Board of Directors of Compass, formerly the Burdman Group, having twice served as Board President; and he’s the incoming President of the Board of Directors for Goodwill Industries.
    The Gasser Family’s success and work ethic dates back to the early 1900’s.
    Eugene and Bertha Gasser were parents of the Gasser Chair Company’s three founders: Louis, Roger and George.
    Bertha Labbé was born and raised in Paris, France; Eugene Gasser was from a small town near Basel, Switzerland. They were married in a small town in eastern France, just across the border from Basel, Switzerland, where Eugene worked as a machinist. The company he worked for was purchased by a company in New York, and Eugene transferred to the U.S. company’s operation in 1907. Soon thereafter the New York company was purchased by Commercial Shearing and Stamping Company in Youngstown, Ohio, and Eugene and Bertha moved to Youngstown.
    Bertha managed the family finances; she bought and managed several rental properties to increase their family income. After living in town for a few years, close enough to the factory that Eugene could walk to work, they bought a small farm in Liberty Township and with the help of a neighbor built a two-story house. To support the growing family, they had several cows, pigs and chickens, as well as a small garden, apple orchard and several other fruit trees.
    They had six children; Roger was the first in 1912, followed by Louis, Marcel, Nathalie, John and finally George in 1929.
    Early in 1946, the Gasser brothers set up a small business, in a two-story barn owned by their mother, to provide fabricating services for local companies, such as fabricating steel window sashes, assembling aluminum window frames for house trailers, and welding parts together to make aluminum beer kegs.  At one time their technical skills and reputation for quality work earned them a contract to fabricate custom parts and assemble a prototype one-man helicopter.
    Driven to develop their own product line, the brothers began manufacturing aluminum-frame tables and chairs, selling these locally as residential dinette sets.  This led to the development of a line of commercial chairs for hotels and restaurants that was marketed successfully for years under the tag line: ‘Dura Line… a chair for every situation’. As the second generation of family became more involved in business operations, a new tag line was introduced: ‘Comfort Zone Seating… Only if you want the finest’. Currently, with Mark Gasser as President, it is: ‘Gasser chairs don’t merely perform, they dazzle.’
    In the mid-1950’s, George happened upon a unique and fortuitous opportunity on a sales trip to the West coast. In a casino in Reno, Nevada, he noticed that some players were constantly taking barstools away from the bar to sit at a slot machine. He noticed that those players who were seated would tend to play longer than those who were standing. But he also noticed that the barstools were too tall to sit comfortably at a slot machine. So he took a few measurements, returned to Ohio and designed the first backless stool specifically engineered to use at slot machines.
    However, this was not easy to sell the concept of seating at slot machines because adding this required floor space, not to mention the additional cost for the seating. George offered to provide a few stools to the casino to ‘test drive’ and after a short period of time, the casino placed an order for several more of what became known as ‘slot stools’. That ultimately led to the development of a complete line of seating specifically designed and engineered for the gaming industry (when the gaming business was limited to Nevada). Subsequently, as the gaming industry grew and expanded beyond Nevada, this provided a great opportunity for the company to grow. And as Paul Harvey would say, “Now you know the rest of the story.”
    Gasser Chair Company remains a family owned business, managed by second and third generation family members along with highly skilled people in all aspects of the business that proudly continue the founders’ philosophy of developing innovative solutions for customer seating requirements, skillfully manufacturing the finest quality product and providing service above expectations.
    The Company’s Mission Statement is: “To be the first choice for quality commercial seating by providing products and services that exceed customer expectations.”; its Vision Statement: “Gasser Chair Company will be a trustworthy organization attentive to the needs of all stakeholders; a team of motivated, passionate people who encourage personal growth while promoting a safe, pleasant and productive workplace.”; and its Principles Statement: “At all times we will be professional with honesty and integrity above reproach; treating everyone with dignity and respect.”
    These philosophies guide the company and the family as each continues to grow.