Did your family put a lot of
pressure on you?
My dad really wanted me to take over his
retail and wholesale tire business, but I
wanted to be a lawyer. My best friends and
I were top of our class at A.B. Davis High
School. Number one went to Harvard, number two to Yale. I went to Princeton, then Yale
law school. Another guy in my class became
the star millionaire — rock-and-roll magnate
Dick Clark. Years later, long after my father
died, I had tears in my eyes when we opened
the first BoatU.S. Marine Center. His son had
ended up in the retail business after all! I wish
he’d seen that.
What’s the most important thing
you learned from your upbringing?
My dad dropped out of Cooper Union
College to support his family, and my uncle
Louie delayed marrying for years so he could
graduate from college. My dad was kind and
loved by everyone. Louie was ironic, steadfast, and manly. Those two men taught me
the importance of family and a good education. I learned about entrepreneurship, what
success looked like, and how much hard
work it took.
The Schwartz family is all about boating. Below, Richard in 2007 with the late
Nancy Michelman, then BoatU.S. President. And right, in the ‘70s, with BoatU.S.
CEO Bill Oakerson; he and Bill have worked together as a team for 36 years.
How did the concept of starting a
boaters’ membership organization
occur to you?
In 1965, I went out on the Chesapeake with
a friend who had just bought a new boat.
A short distance from the dock, we were
boarded by the Coast Guard, who cited him
for having a faulty engine-compartment ventilation system. As a lawyer, I was stunned to
discover that boat manufacturers at the time
had no liability for meeting government safety
regulations, and the Coast Guard had no
jurisdiction over the manufacturers to make
sure they built a safe boat — because those
manufacturers built those boats on land! It
made no sense, but the Coast Guard could
only enforce safety standards AFTER the boat
was in the water. Imagine driving a new car
out of the dealer showroom and being ticketed because the emission system was illegal!
I began investigating and learned it would
take congressional legislation to solve. There
Below, Richard and his wife, Beth Newburger, with U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton
and George W. Bush. With her own communications business, Beth is active in
philanthropic work and politics, and has worked as a senior political appointee
for the Clinton administration.
The Win List
For a list of major BoatU.S. legislative accomplishments over the years, visit this
article at www.BoatUS.com/Magazine