Icon: Gus Stavros
Businessman, philanthropist, Florida Board of Governors member, 82
Stavros, with kindergarteners at High Point Elementary in Clearwater, has championed financial literacy among schoolchildren. [Photo: Michael Heape]
» At the age of 19, I landed at Utah Beach, about 50 days after D-Day. We went across three campaigns: Northern France, Ardennes and Rhineland. I was wounded on Jan. 19, 1945. That was the last day I used my left hand.
» I was always frugal. My wife, always frugal. When we first got married, we had a budget. At the end of every month, she’d empty her purse, and I’d empty my pockets to be sure we hadn’t misplaced any money.
» We moved to Florida and my parents came down to stay with us awhile to see their grandchildren. My father said to me, ‘Son, I know you want to go into business, so I’ll look around for you.’ This was 1958. After awhile, he said the area was ready for a good hamburger, hot dog, milkshake and soda place, and I told him I didn’t go to Columbia University to open up a hot dog stand. But my father was right, and I was wrong. If I had listened to him, all these McDonald’s you see now would be called Gus’.
» I was one of three who started Better Business Forms. I eventually bought the other two men out, so I was the sole owner. We started with three employees and built it to 550. I used my philosophies of business: Take care of your employees; listen to the customer.
» I remember I transferred a salesman to Tampa, and a company he’d been serving came to me and said they wanted him back. I said whatever you want. That customer was Eckerd Drugs, and that salesman was getting $10,000 a year from them in business. Within a couple of years, he was getting $1 million a year in business from Eckerd.
» I had three salesmen who made more money than I did, and I owned the company. They were on commission. It didn’t matter to me. The company was growing.
» Let me tell you why I sold my company (in 1984). When my wife, a child of the Depression, found out that I owed the banks $11 million; she was very uncomfortable. By selling the company, I paid off the debt, and I got a good amount of money ($12.5 million).
In case you missed it:
- Howard Schnellenberger is a Florida 'Icon'
- Florida Icon: Barbara Mainster
- Florida Icon: Walter Lanier ‘Red' Barber
- Louise Gopher is a 'Florida Icon'
- H. Lee Moffitt is a 'Florida Icon'
- Kiran Patel is a 'Florida Icon'
- 'Florida Icon' Howard C. Tibbals shares life lessons
- Alex D. Brickler is a 'Florida Icon'
- Life lessons from hockey great Phil Esposito
- Lucy Morgan is a 'Florida Icon'
- Donald Goodman is a 'Florida Icon'
- Ed Droste is a 'Florida Icon'
- Ray Ferrero Jr. - Florida Icon
- W. George Allen is a 'Florida Icon'
- Tom James is a 'Florida Icon'
- Patrick Smith is a 'Florida Icon'
- Jerry Uelsmann is a 'Florida Icon'
- John L. Parker is a 'Florida Icon'
- C.C. 'Doc' Dockery is a 'Florida Icon'
- Toni Jennings is a 'Florida Icon'
- Dave Barry is a 'Florida Icon'
- Shaquille O'Neal is a 'Florida Icon'
- Ruth Alexander is a Florida Icon
- Brian Johnson is a Florida Icon
- Florida Icon: Sam Gibbons
- Thomas 'Blue' Fulford
- Icon: Don 'Big Daddy' Garlits
- Icon: Charles E. 'Chuck' Cobb Jr.
- Icon: John DeGrove
- Icon: Charles Gray
- Icon: Harry Crews
- Icon: Burt Reynolds
- Icon: Tibor Hollo
- Icon: Gary Mormino
- Icon: Richard Gonzmart
- Icon: Bob Graham
- Icon: Ward Hall
- Icon: Eugenie Clark
- Icon: Warrick Dunn
- Icon: Arthur Rutenberg
- Icon: Chris Evert
- Icon: Preston Haskell
- Icon: Joseph Kittinger
- Icon: The Fanjul Brothers
- Icon: Romero Britto
- Icon: Steve Raymund
- Icon: Cesar L. Alvarez
- Icon: Juan 'Chi Chi' Rodriguez
- Icon: Gay Culverhouse
- Icon: Gene Leedy
- Icon: William R. Hough
- Icon: Peter Prichard
- Icon: Ed Price
- Icon: David L. Paul
- Icon: Jan Garavaglia
- Icon: Claude R. Kirk Jr.
- Icon: Don Zimmer
- Icon: Kenneth H. 'Buddy' MacKay
- Icon: Dick Vitale
- Icon: Michael Gannon
- Icon: Marcella Hazan
- Icon: Tony Little
- Icon: Wade L. Hopping
- Icon: Edgar Mitchell
- Icon: James Rosenquist
- Icon: Bob Martinez
- Icon: Arnold Palmer
- Icon: Don Shula
- Icon: Mike Peters
- Icon: Margaret D. Lowman
- Icon: Doug Williams
- Icon: Bob Butterworth
- Icon: Fred Schultz
- Icon: Eugene Patterson
- Icon: Harris Mullen
- Icon: Bill Haast
- Icon: Marion P. Hammer
- Icon: Albert Dunlap
- Icon: Joseph Woodrow Hatchett
- Icon video: Joseph Hatchett
- Icon: Talbot 'Sandy' D'Alemberte
- Icon: John Walsh
- Icon: James Robert Cade
- Icon: Nathaniel Pryor Reed
- Icon: Betty Castor
- Icon: Mary Ann Carroll
- Icon: George Steinbrenner
- Icon: Ferdie Pacheco
- Icon: Vic Dunaway
- Icon: George Smathers
- Icon: Phyllis Apple
- Icon: Nick Bollettieri
- Icon: Harris Rosen
- Icon: Max Mayfield
- Icon: Carrie Meek
- Icon: Andres Duany
- Icon: T. Willard Fair
- Icon: Bobby Bowden
- Icon: Stetson Kennedy
- Icon: Don Francisco
- Icon: Janet Reno
- Icon: Reubin O'D. Askew
- Icon: Clyde Butcher
- Icon: Willie Gary
- Icon: Wayne Huizenga