takers, value makers
Joseph Levy marks six decades of business innovation and mentorship
Levy Jr. '47 knows the secret of running a business successfully,
at any age.
never get too old if they love what they're doing, and are
doing it well," he says. That view captures reality for
this Kellogg School graduate, who continues to put his heart
into entrepreneurship almost 60 years after earning his MBA.
Levy Jr. '47 Photo
© Nathan Mandell
part of the fourth generation of his family's enterprises
in the Chicago area, Levy gained a passion for entrepreneurship
early. His great-grandfather ran a horse-and-buggy business,
and Levy followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and
father by pursuing a career in the automobile industry. He
opened his own automotive dealership after he worked at his
father's for 13 years. In two years, Levy says, his Evanston-based
business became the world's largest Buick dealership, increasing
sales from 300 cars a year to 5,000.
attributes his success in part to being always available for
customers and employees. "I was at the dealership every
day from eight in the morning until 10 at night," he
says. "I wasn't hidden in an office." Levy also
credits his employees and the importance of kindness. One
of his hiring strategies is to recruit people who are smarter
than himself and then put his trust in them. "I hired
people with no automobile experience, just people who were
nice to individuals," he says, which was a change for
the automobile industry.
he is chairman of Levy Venture Management, through which he
assists other entrepreneurs of all ages and interests. One
current client is Inclusion Solutions, which manufactures
products that increase accessibility between merchants and
physically disabled customers. Levy also coaches Leslie Lancry,
founder and president of Language Stars, a business that immerses
children in foreign languages, and he has brought his expertise
to Gray Hair Management, an Internet employment agency for
people ages 55 and older. Other beneficiaries of Levy's wisdom
include a worldwide door-to-door service to take the sick
to hospitals, research facilities and family occasions, and
a company that operates hotels for pets near airports.
of the enterprise, though, Levy says, "You need determination
to make your ideas work, and you have to accept and live with
occasional failures. Success must come from within you."
Levy does more: Through his philanthropic efforts, he shares
his own success and creates opportunities for others too.
His longtime support of the Kellogg School includes
financial contributions and the gift of his entrepreneurial
expertise. In recognition, Kellogg has bestowed its Joseph
Schaffner Award on him and named the Levy Atrium in the Donald
P. Jacobs Center in honor of Levy and his wife Carole.
is equally passionate about helping seniors. "You get
to a point where it's 'give-back' time," he says. "I
felt that seniors were neglected in the community and could
be recognized with a place of their own."
do that, Levy and his family have created three senior activity
centers in Evanston, Chicago and Bolingbrook, where thousands
participate in classes, sports, games, exercise, art, dance,
theater, writing and more.
the retiring age will not be 65, but it will be 70 as people
are living longer and staying active much longer." Levy
believes that age means nothing, though, and his advice for
older entrepreneurs is to stay engaged, both personally and
professionally, to enjoy life.