Gaston Goossens RIP

Gaston Goossens RIP

Published: ASIA

WORLD: The global industry has been saddened this week to learn of the passing of highly respected industry veteran Gaston Goossens, who lost his battle with cancer at Thailand’s Phuket International Hospital on Saturday August 24th. Mr Goossens was a deeply influential and much beloved icon of the Asian industry, described by his friend and colleague Eddy Vermeersch as ‘the father of the professional audio business in South East Asia’.

Originally hailing from Belgium, Mr Goossens was a true pioneer of the South East Asian pro audio business, responsible for establishing the first Western manufacturer office in Singapore when he opened Klark Teknik Asia in 1985.

Klark Teknik co-founder Terry Clarke told Pro Audio Central of Mr Goossens’ determination to set-up the office: ‘He was the sales and marketing director back then. He decided that we should set up an Asian operation for two reasons: firstly he wanted to move out there and secondly he thought we needed a base in Singapore’.

The idea was inspired, and over the course of decades Mr Goossens watched as the regional industry rose up around him, following his lead.

During a storied career Mr Goossens fast developed a reputation as an expert on the Asian market, assisting and advising countless people and key brands. The sale of Klark Teknik to Mark IV Audio in 1992 prompted him to refocus on another brand with which he had become synonymous – Crest Audio. Later he was associated with names such as XTA, ARX, British loudspeaker brand Shermann and most recently Meyer Sound. He is also fondly remembered for owning his own CD record store in Singapore’s Far East Plaza mall. He eventually settled in Phuket, Thailand.

In the days following the news, industry figures were quick to pay tribute to a man who helped to shape modern professional audio. Among them was Terry Clarke: ‘He was my daughter’s godfather and a very close friend,’ he said. ‘We all miss him. He was such a good character – a gentle giant and everyone seemed to like him. I don't know anyone who had a bad word for him.’

Further tributes to Mr Goossens can be found below. If you would like to add your own thoughts then please email them to bjameson@proaudioasia.com and they will be added to this page.

Tributes to Gaston Goossens

David Robinson, DWR Associates Inc:

‘Over the more than 20 years I knew Gaston, it was apparent that he touched many people's lives personally and professionally in the most positive of ways. Ever fun loving combined with a deep technical understanding of not only his area of technical expertise, Gaston was always there to provide his friends with his unique insight to the complexities of the Asian pro audio business for which he was, in many people's view, a veritable oracle. He knew and understood the entire historically layered structure of the market from all of the original founding players down through the generation transfers and onto today’s current picture.

‘Gaston was a man who managed to combine a zest for life that those that knew him well will surely miss. On a personal level he was a mentor in many strategic decisions I made over the years and he was instrumental in the business development of many others. He was always there with good advice clearly borne from many years of experience. Sorely missed by all those whose lives he brushed, Gaston will indeed be remembered by many across the Asian region where he was known by anyone who was someone in the industry.

‘Successful Asian business is impossible without the added combination of social interaction and hospitality and in that respect Gaston will not be forgotten as he was more fun to be with than many and would always brighten up any occasion with his wry humour and wit.

‘He was probably the only person that could have written an accurate book on the inside world of pro audio in Asia and how it really works.’

 

Bill Woods, Funktion One:

‘To be honest I had not met Gaston until I joined XTA. On my first sales trip to Asia we met and discussed sales strategy and we immediately clicked. Over the ensuing years Gaston and I met regularly throughout Asia, attending trade shows, visiting distributors and putting the world rights over a glass or two. The last time we met was on my final trip to Singapore as an XTA employee in March 2012. We sat in a nice Tapas Bar on Orchard Road when I told him I was changing jobs and he told me about his health problems. It was quite a sad farewell.

‘The thing which amazed me was his depth of knowledge of the Asian market. He seemed to know everyone and everyone knew him and most importantly nobody had a bad word to say about him. He was a really nice guy and a good friend not only to me but also to my new company, Funktion One.

 

Tony Andrews, Funktion One:

‘I knew Gaston since the very earliest days of the embryonic Turbosound. It must have been in 1983 and we were on the channel ferry on the way to our first ever trade show in Frankfurt and we just bumped into Gaston on deck! Gaston was the first real person we had met who worked for an audio company – Klark Teknik – and he befriended us.

‘We weren’t really sure what to expect at the trade show and honestly he gave us real confidence just by showing interest in what we were doing. We never did any actual business together but we didn’t need to. We remained firm friends and were always very pleased to see him. The world is an emptier place without him.’

 

Peter Tongue, former global sales director of d&b audiotechnik, former international sales manager of Klark Teknik:

'I heard the news of Gaston's passing today from my old friend Werner 'Vier' Bayer at d&b audiotechnik. It was a great shock.

Gaston was the man who brought me into this industry in 1983, giving an opportunity to a non technical, non pro audio industry person to develop international sales for Klark Teknik. He took me under his wing and gave me the benefit of his experience and his unique insight into the very different world of professional audio.

He also became a truly great friend as we plotted together the rise of Klark Teknik business around the world, usually down the pub in Stourport or in one of many other bars around the world. I can honestly say that Gaston was my inspiration in those early days. Business and life would have been far more difficult and far less fun without his constant support and enthusiasm.

We kept in touch over the years, usually seeing each other at international  trade shows in Asia and Europe where Gaston always had a story to tell or some industry gossip to share.

I will miss him enormously. Rest in peace Gaston, my dear old friend.'

 

Martin Capp, Global 9 Ltd:

'I first met Gaston when I joined DDA as Sales Manager in 1988. Klark Teknik had purchased the company not long before and I would travel to Kidderminster to discuss the progression of sales with the parent company whenever Gaston was over from the Far East.

The sales meetings discussed business solutions that were unlike anything I had ever experienced before. However, it soon became clear that Gaston knew his global markets and particularly the Far East better than anyone I had ever met. For the next few years we would meet in Kidderminster, the Asian office in Singapore, at supported exhibitions, or some hotel where Gaston would impart his knowledge to help further the growth of DDA. Gaston was always generous with his contact introductions, his insight of the Asian markets and his great sense of humour fuelled by the odd beverage.

Following his departure from KT after the Mark IV buyout, Gaston remained the same approachable guy and he was always someone you would happily run in to during exhibitions, in a hotel lobby, or at the odd bar. Gaston not only knew the main players in the Far East, but he thoroughly understood how the markets evolved and worked. He was a great inspiration to me during those years and I have fond memories of being greeted by that unmistakable Gaston accent that was so much a part of his unique character.

Another early pioneer of British pro audio brands to the Far East was Gisela Burg, she always reminded me of her fondness for Gaston by telling me he was her ‘long lost brother’ and when you saw them together you couldn’t help but believe it! The passing of Gaston is getting close to the end of an era, as there are few characters left that can claim to have been there from the beginning growth of the pro audio industry. There are even fewer that could possibly claim the enormous influence that characters like Gaston had on the UK pro audio industry. Considering that Gaston was Belgian his mark on UK exports has been significant with pioneering international sales of Klark Teknik, Midas, as well as DDA. I will greatly miss running in to him at some exhibition and hearing his unmistakable tones of greeting.'

 

Samsia Sulaimee, Peavey Electronics Ltd:

‘I had known Gaston since I was 18 years old, having been introduced by a mutual musician friend, Keith Dinsdale. Gaston took me under his wing when I left college and together we started ARX Marketing in Singapore, representing ARX Systems (Australia).

We later started Crest Audio Asia and two years later moved to Thailand making Bangkok our base before eventually moving to Phuket.

Gaston had been a father figure to me and a very dear friend. He became a family friend and like with many people, we all loved him dearly and always will. He taught me a lot of valuable things about life which I treasure to this date. We continued to go out for lunches over the weekend while he was already battling cancer to catch up with each others lives. He would still tell me jokes to put a smile on my face.

I will forever treasure his genuine friendship and will miss him dearly. Rest in peace my dearest friend.

 

Henry Loh, entertainment consultant and production management:

Thanks a lot Gaston, for your unending sharing and expert advice during my time with Jasper Productions and Hibino Professional Sound, Singapore.

 

Jonathan Chapman, The Chapman Partnership

I had the honour and indeed the privilege of working with Gaston while he was the Group Marketing Director for the Klark Teknik Group for many years as a graphic designer consultant during the 1980s.

We shared many moments together both professionally and socially. He was an inspirational man whose kind heart was apparent to all who met him.

His knowledge in his industry has been proclaimed by many, but my association witnessed his creative and intuitive side when promoting the products produced by audio companies across the spectrum.

I would like to say that my heart goes out to Coleena and Dream, whom he worshipped. Also to all his close friends (most, if not all were clients, manufacturers, sound recordists, musicians, show producers, etc). He enjoyed his world – and we who met him are so lucky to have been part of it.

Rest in peace you truly generous, kind and good man.

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