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Published on May 11th, 2020 | by OAAA

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Remembering Industry legend Lewis Manderson Jr.

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The OOH industry mourned the passing of Lewis Manderson, a World War II combat veteran who founded an out of home media company, entered the industry’s Hall of Fame, and chaired its trade association.

Manderson:

  • Founded Creative Displays
  • Served as a chairman of OAAA
  • Earned top industry honors, Marketing Award of Merit (L. Ray Vahue) in 1981 and OAAA Hall of Fame in 1991

Jim McLaughlin — also a Hall of Fame inductee — recalled Manderson’s influence as a leader.

“Lewis was a great mentor, very tough, demanding, and performance oriented. At Creative Displays we had face-to-face sales meetings each day in the morning and also in the afternoon. We also worked Saturdays until noon, unless we were 90 percent occupied for the current month and 75 percent for the following month.”

“We role played each day, scrutinized sales logs (which had to have 20 names and ‘reasons to buy’ on them) and we were drilled before and after each sales day. We also scheduled our markets, took our own pictures, and signed each invoice personally before it went out. But, there were many months, sometimes years, when our divisions were 100 percent sold out of inventory. And, because we could not deviate from rate by $1, we had to learn ‘need satisfaction selling’ and work hard.  He was a true task master. However, those of us that made it through all that made a lot of money with Lewis at Creative and other subsequent companies because we did the things other folks wouldn’t do. I learned a lot from him, and as I’ve said before, he was one of the most influential men in my life.”

Born in Alabama in 1925, Masterson passed away May 5. His published obituary (click here for full text) describes a rich and full life of accomplishments.

He served in WWII as a US Army tail gunner on a B-24 Liberator bomber plane. It was the most dangerous job onboard. He survived a mid -air collision in which the other plane crashed. He was in Paris on VE Day and this set the course for his fun-loving life, always ready for a party.

He was a prime example of the Greatest Generation. An oral history of his wartime experience is in the collection of the Atlanta Historical Society. He attended the University of Alabama on the GI bill and Tuscaloosa became his home.

Lewis pioneered the modern outdoor advertising industry just after the war, helping Kemmons Wilson to direct motorists to his Holiday Inn motels along the newly built interstates.

He also owned radio stations and car dealerships. In the 90’s he founded a venture capital fund called Cordova Ventures, named for his hometown. He was inducted into the venerable Alabama Business Hall of Fame and holds an honorary doctorate at the University of Alabama.

He and his wife Faye endowed the Manderson Graduate School of Business at the University of Alabama with what was at the time the largest gift in the university’s history. He and his wife also endowed the Druid City Hospital Cancer Center and The Park at Manderson Landing in Tuscaloosa. In the 1980’s Lewis and Faye moved to Atlanta after Lewis had acquired Turner Outdoor, Inc. In Atlanta they continued their civic leadership as visionary donors to the Shepherd Center and many other charities.

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