June 24, 2014

Who Is Steven F. Udvar-Hazy, And Why Should You Care?

By Paul Bieber

Mr. Steven F. Udvar-Hazy was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1946 and came to America as an immigrant in 1958, escaping the Russian domination. He started a small business in 1973 at the age of 27, leasing one airplane to a Mexican airline. The rest, as they say, is history.

He is now one of the richest men in America, but that is not why he is special.

Right now, Elaine and I are visiting our kids in Washington, D.C. Yesterday afternoon, my son, Philip, and I went to the Udvar-Hazy building of the Smithsonian Museum at Dulles Airport, where a special hanger was built to hold aircraft and spacecraft, just off one of the main runways. Let me tell what we saw yesterday:

  • The space shuttle Discovery. Yep, the real one that went in space over 60 times.
  • The Enola Gay plane, which dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. That sparked quite a conversation betweeen Philip and me.
  • The first Boeing 707 ever built.
  • An SR71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft, the fastest production aircraft in the world.
  • The Air France Concorde that flew at supersonic speed over the Atlantic.
  • A half-dozen Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space capsules.
  • A hundred WWI and WWII fighters.

You get the drift. This was one the most impressive buildings I have ever been in, especially since I worshiped the early astronauts and have been fascinated with air and space travel ever since. If I couldn’t be a baseball player, I would have been an astronaut. So I became a glass fabrication company manager, and life has still been wonderful.

Mr. Udevar-Hazy donated $66 million to the Smithsonian to build this museum, and it is named in his honor. He was kid born in Hungary who came here, became a billionaire and gave back to America in this and in many other ways.

Now that our glass industry is starting to turn in a positive direction, the next big problem we face is having enough qualified personnel to work in our businesses. Start training a few of these kids and plan on your glass business growing. Hire the kids who come into your business and want to work hard. You will be hiring the best workers, because they came to America to work and be part of our country. Teach someone how to work in our industry, let him become a foreman and you will have a great crew. 

You are not going to hire a Udvar-Hazy, but believe me, there are wonderful people out there who just want a chance to work hard. That is your future.