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Gary E. Gardner

Hair care manufacturer Gary Gardner was born on August 22, 1954 in Chicago, Illinois to Edward and Bettiann Gardner. He graduated from the University of Illinois, Chicago with his B.A. degree in pre-law in 1975, and then attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he earned both his J.D. and M.M. degrees in 1982.

In 1964, at age ten, Gardner began working for the family business, Soft Sheen Products, Inc., packaging hair care items with his younger sister in the family’s home in Chicago. After graduating from Northwestern in 1982, Gardner rejoined Soft Sheen Products, Inc. and transitioned to president in 1985, succeeding his father, Ed Gardner, who remained as chairman. He served as president until 1996, when he stepped down to pursue his own ethnic hair care company in Chicago called Namaste Laboratories, with his wife, Denise. In 1999, Gardner and his wife launched their own philanthropic organization, the Gary and Denise Family Foundation, which focused on youth participation in the arts. Namaste Laboratories was later bought by the Indian consumer goods producer, Dabur India Ltd., in 2010, and Gardner remained with his management team to continue running the laboratory. In 2014, Gardner co-founded a private equity firm based out of Chicago called P.F.G., LLC, where he also served as president. The following year, Gardner and his wife established the Denise and Gary Gardner Scholarship at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015 to assist undergraduate students’ education at the Art Institute, primarily those from the South Side.

Gardner has been a member of the American Health and Beauty Aids Institute, and during his time as president of Soft Sheen, the company received several awards, including being ranked sixth on Black Enterprise’s top 100 service industry companies in 1987 and, two years later, receiving the title of the Company of the Year by Black Enterprise.

Gardner and his wife reside in Chicago, Illinois, where they run the Gary and Denise Family Foundation and maintain a private art collection. The couple was awarded the Art Alliance of Illinois’ Citizen’s Advocate Award in 2018.

Gary Gardner was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 13, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.060

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/13/2019

Last Name

Gardner

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

E.

Schools

Northwestern University

University of Illinois at Chicago

First Name

Gary

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

GAR07

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Southern Florida

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/22/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Chicken Wings

Short Description

Hair care manufacturer Gary Gardner (1954 - ) served as president of Soft Sheen Products, Inc from 1985 to 1996, before founding hair care company, Namaste Laboratories, in 1996 and private equity firm, P.F.G., LLC, in 2014.

Employment

Soft Sheen Products, Inc.

Namaste Laboratories

P.F.G., LLC

Favorite Color

Blue

Ralph G. Moore

Minority business consultant Ralph G. Moore was born in Evanston, Illinois on July 4, 1949. His mother, Alberta, worked in the post office, while his father, William, was a railroad worker. After graduating from Evanston Township High School in 1967, Moore attended Southern Illinois University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1971. The following year, he was awarded his CPA license.

After earning his bachelor’s degree, Moore took a position with accounting firm Arthur Andersen, where he remained until 1973. From there, he served as vice president for the Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Company and was controller for the Parker House Sausage Company. In 1979, Moore founded Ralph G. Moore & Associates (RGMA). Today, RGMA is one of the premier consulting firms for helping employers to diversify their suppliers. In addition, they consult government agencies with the development and implementation of Affirmative Action programs and help entrepreneurs raise capital.

In addition to his consulting work, Moore serves on the board of directors of several firms. He has also been a contributor to the Harvard Business Review and MBE Magazine. He is also a co-founder and the president of the Alliance of Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs. Since 1994, Moore has served as a trustee of the City Colleges of Chicago, and he is also a trustee of the University of Chicago Hospitals & Health System.

Moore’s numerous awards over the years include “Entrepreneur of the Year” from Inc. Magazine and Enrst & Young and the Governor’s Minority Small Business Advocate of the Year Award from former Illinois Governor George Ryan.

Accession Number

A2004.121

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/9/2004

Last Name

Moore

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

G.

Schools

Evanston Township High School

Southern Illinois University

First Name

Ralph

Birth City, State, Country

Evanston

HM ID

MOO03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

We're All In This Together.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

7/4/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Business consultant and business consulting chief executive Ralph G. Moore (1949 - ) founded Ralph G. Moore & Associates (RGMA) in 1979. Over the years, RGMA became one of the premier consulting firms for helping corporations diversify their supply chain.

Employment

Arthur Andersen

Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Company

Parker House Sausage Company

Ralph G. Moore & Associates

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ralph G. Moore's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ralph G. Moore lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ralph G. Moore talks about his maternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ralph G. Moore talks about his mother's move north to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ralph G. Moore describes his mother's life in Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ralph G. Moore recalls the lack of family conversation about racism during his childhood visits to Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ralph G. Moore lists his mother's jobs in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ralph G. Moore explains his father's reasons for leaving the South

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ralph G. Moore talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ralph G. Moore recalls stories about his paternal aunt and father

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ralph G. Moore recalls his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Ralph G. Moore recalls the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Ralph G. Moore describes the racial dynamics of his childhood neighborhood and elementary schools in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Ralph G. Moore recalls his frustrations with his Evanston Township High School's academic expectations

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ralph G. Moore describes his personality during the time he attended Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ralph G. Moore recalls the impact of his teachers at Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ralph G. Moore comments on the racial and ethnic demographics of Evanston, Illinois in the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ralph G. Moore compares the histories of the African American community and Jewish community

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ralph G. Moore explains his decision to attend Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ralph G. Moore talks about black student body at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ralph G. Moore talks about his social activities and interests during his teenage years

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ralph G. Moore talks about his older brother's influence on his decision to attend Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ralph G. Moore recalls his initial experience at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ralph G. Moore recalls challenging an accounting professor at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ralph G. Moore recalls his activities as a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ralph G. Moore recalls organizing a black arts festival in Marion prison in Marion, Illinois with his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ralph G. Moore talks about how he managed to finance his college education at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ralph G. Moore recalls his initial experiences working at Arthur Andersen

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ralph G. Moore explains how he was able to advance despite initial discrimination at Arthur Andersen

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ralph G. Moore recalls leaving the Chicago Board of Trade to work for the Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Company in 1947

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ralph G. Moore talks about his experience working at Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Company

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ralph G. Moore talks about his involvement with various community and business organizations in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ralph G. Moore talks about Habilitative Systems, Incorporated

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ralph G. Moore talks about his trusteeship at the University of Chicago Medical Center

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ralph G. Moore talks about black accountants in Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ralph G. Moore talks about his business, Ralph G. Moore & Associates

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ralph G. Moore talks about the personal significance of his company's work with baseball

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ralph G. Moore talks about his daughter's affinity for history

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ralph G. Moore talks about his relationship with his daughter's mother and becoming a father

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ralph G. Moore talks about his daughter, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ralph G. Moore talks about his daughter's influences and aspirations

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Ralph G. Moore talks about Ralph G. Moore & Associates' role in promoting supplier diversity and minority business development

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ralph G. Moore talks about the National Minority Supplier Development Council

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ralph G. Moore gives examples of what suppliers do within the business world

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ralph G. Moore explains the importance of supplier diversity and its implications for minority businesses

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ralph G. Moore talks about the importance of buying from companies that work with minority vendors

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ralph G. Moore describes his hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ralph G. Moore talks about racial disparities he encountered at Arthur Andersen and witnesses in corporate America

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ralph G. Moore reflects on the importance of teaching black youth their history

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ralph G. Moore talks about the importance of remembering the history of African American struggle

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ralph G. Moore reflects on opportunities he has been given and his hope for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Ralph G. Moore reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ralph G. Moore talks about his family's reactions to his accomplishments and his mother's struggle with Alzheimer's disease

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ralph G. Moore describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ralph G. Moore narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ralph G. Moore narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

3$4

DATitle
Ralph G. Moore talks about black accountants in Illinois
Ralph G. Moore talks about the importance of buying from companies that work with minority vendors
Transcript
So, I'm involved; also, the Cosmopolitan Chamber of Commerce [Chicago, Illinois], and this is where the clock kind of swings around. In 1972, I passed the CPA [certified public accountant] exam. That's another, I'm one of those stories. It's hard to imagine and it just speaks to how we've been denied opportunity, but in 1972, I passed the CPA exam, November. I was the 68th black CPA in the state, in the history of the State of Illinois. Now, I mean you can celebrate that, but it means, to me it's a tragedy. Now there are hundreds of black CPAs, but at the time we were less than 100, and you know Lester, and [HistoryMaker] Jim [James] Hill [Jr.], they came before--[HistoryMaker] Lester McKeever, they all came before me, but in the history of the state, to be number sixty-eight tells me that there's a problem. But, what happened, and even there it speaks to the whole issue of race, again about Arthur Andersen [Chicago, Illinois], and there's another brother there, Reggie Burton [ph.], who was another black person who started the same as me, University of Chicago [Chicago, Illinois], M.B.A., Roosevelt [University, Chicago, Illinois] undergraduate, very--I wouldn't call it arrogant, but very full of himself. Well, [HistoryMaker] Ralph [G. Moore], he went to SIU [Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois]. That exam should be pretty tough for a year but, you know, you should do, you know, study hard, you might do okay. You might make it through. So, we took the same exam, right. Long story short, the results came out. I passed it the first time and, a matter of fact, it was one of those tests November '72 [1972] test, I look back and look at the statistics, only 12 percent of the people who took it the first time passed it. Reggie Burton, who was, needless to say he didn't pass it, not only did he not pass it that time, he took it another seven times before he passed it, so I was very, that was one of those moments. I said, we partied, but we got a couple things done.$$You said accounting is an exact science, so you know it or you don't.$$You either know it or you don't. But I think the other issue, I mean the reason I go back and tell that story is that just to be an accountant, you know, not to, to be able to use these tools for the betterment of the community really is what makes it so good for me. So, I volunteered, I've done work with the National Association of Black Accountants [NABA]. We formed a group called the National CPA Society [ph.], which were the first CPAs, and is trying to help other accounting students come through the program, accounting programs. So, it's been a number, I've done a number of things in the community.$One of the stories I tell in our training, we talk about the value proposition. We [Moore and his daughter, Avery Moore] were in a grocery store. She's nine years old. Now, your daughter is fourteen. When she was nine, when you turned into the cereal aisle of the grocery store, you lose control. Whatever is going to go in that cart, she's, she already knows what she wants. She, some Co-Co this or something she saw on TV. So, when we got to the, she reached for her favorite cereal, which was from a company that was not doing that much with supplier diversity at the time. I said, "Well Avery, let's look at this. This company doesn't do much with minority vendors. So, if we give them our money, that money's gonna go straight outside the community. None of it will ever come back into the community." Now here's the--Cap'n Crunch. I always thought it was Captain but it's Cap'n, Quaker Oats. "Cap'n Crunch--now here's a product that you love. I've seen you eat it, Quaker Oats does a lot of work in the community and when we give them our money, that money, they give money back to our community and that money floats around and some of that money ends up in my checking account, and that's the money I take you to [Walt] Disney World [Orlando, Florida] with." And she looked like wait a minute! No Disney World, Disney World??? Why didn't you tell me?? She was mad that I hadn't told her before that if we buy products from, in our house there's only good companies or bad companies. The good companies work with minority vendors, the bad companies don't. So, the good companies are the ones we support. Same thing when she goes shopping. Now, you've heard about the Tommy Hilfiger problem, true or false, Tommy Hilfiger doesn't seem to do a lot in my community. So, we don't buy Tommy Hilfiger. That was a tough lesson for her because she was, you know, it was a big thing for her. My only point to her was we have to shop with companies that have, that are members, that are national members of the national supplier, the NMSDC, the National Minority Supplier Development Council [New York, New York]. Nordstrom's is a member, Express is a member, Limited is a member, which owns Express, Bloomingdale's is a member (unclear) stores, so it turned out that all of the stores that she would like to shop at are members. So, now, what's the one that had a Ghettopoly game, Urban Outfitters, they're not a member, and they, and plus after that Ghettopoly mess, we don't give 'em any of our money. But the reality is there's enough good companies out there that we can support, and the things I tell her, if you can't buy from a black company, buy from a black salesman in a white company. And if you can't buy from a black salesman in a white company, buy from a company that at least works with black businesses and minority businesses. So, she's armed and ready. Again, if we could get more people thinking like her, we could turn this around. You have companies like SONY records [Sony Music Entertainment, Inc., New York, New York], and my lawyer told me to stop calling names, probably because it's amazing how people hear what I say, 'cause I speak a lot around the country. But, you have companies like SONY records, who don't do anything with supplier diversity. How dare you take all that money out of our community with rap music and not do anything with minority and black vendors! It's crazy. So, there's another point in my career, after I get to this plateau where everything's working fine. I get the book written, I'm going on a one-man crusade to help educate black consumers, minority consumers, so we can start buying from companies that do business with us. And that's really been, that would be the final chapter of my career; that I've done very well in creating the strategies for companies who get it to do well, but now we have to go after those companies who don't get it.