WHO'S WHO - ARON S. GORDON
The late Houston entrepreneur Aron S. Gordon took a family-owned jewelry business and created Gordonís Jewelers, which is today a nationally known and recognized chain with offices in Houston and New York City.
Gordon was born in Houston in 1911 and attended the University of Texas. In 1930, he went into business with his father, who owned two jewelry and pawn stores. He worked in sales and set about expanding his father's business. Under his direction, Gordonís eventually grew to 650 stores in 43 states and Puerto Rico.
According to his son Thomas, Aron Gordonís success was based on instinct and trial-by-fire, more than formalized education. "What he learned, he learned on the job," said Thomas. "He came in when the business was small, and he grew it."
Gordonís was one of the first jewelry companies in the United States to extend credit to customers and to locate its stores in malls and shopping centers.
In 1961, the chain became a publicly owned company and in 1968, was the first jewelry store to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Gordon took over the companyís presidency in 1970, and in 1984 became co-chairman of the board, where he remained until the companyís sale in 1989. At that time, he used his experience in leasing sites for Gordon's stores to become chairman of the board of GORCAP, L.L.C., a real estate development company. Aron remains in that position until his and Thomas served as its president and CEO.
In addition to growing the family business, Aron Gordon spent time helping to grow the jewelry industry by serving on the Jewelry Industry Council board. He also served as director for the Retail Jewelers of America from 1967 to 1970. He was a member of the exclusive 24 Karat Club of New York.
One reason for Aronís success, Thomas theorized, is because he always had a feel for the business. "You can run all the numbers you want on profit and loss, but what it really comes down to is that the most successful people in the industry have a knack for it. I hope thatís something Iíve inherited from him."
Gordon also had a knack and feel for community service, supporting various causes throughout Houston. Gordon supported such organizations as the March of Dimes, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, the DePelchin Faith Homes, the Anti-Defamation League, Bínai Brith, and Childrenís Hospital.
Gordon has served on the board of Temple Beth Israel, the advisory board of the End Hunger Network, and the board of visitors for the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. He was named a life board member of the St. Joseph Hospital Foundation, was elected a board member of the National Jewish Hospital in Denver in 1965 and spent a year as co-chairman of the United Jewish Campaign of Houston.
Gordon was a founder of Houstonís Performing Arts Association, has served on the advisory board of The Houston Symphony, and supported the Houston Youth Symphony and Ballet.
"Heís left a legacy in Houston for both business and for charitable contributions that heís made to the city," said Thomas Gordon. "He believed in giving back to the city, and to things that have made him successful."
Gordon died Tuesday, November 13, 2001. He was 89.