Gary attended Kirkwood High School and then Valparaiso University where he studied business and accounting. After graduation, he came to Color Art and worked as an Accountant / Controller for 8 years before going back to school at Washington University in St. Louis to earn his M.B.A.
In response to shifting market demands, Gary founded World Furniture Alliance in 2006, but ultimately ventured back to finance where he believes he’s most skilled. From there he worked in corporate development, risk management, and internal audits before eventually becoming Vice President and Treasurer.
AM So finance has always been sort of your thing?
GRJ It has. Yeah. Finance is my true passion. I like using my knowledge about money to help our companies become more successful.
AM It must mean a lot to be able to use these skills at your family’s company?
GRJ Oh yeah. Absolutely. It’s been my life’s dream to work here and continue the legacy. My Grandpa started the company in 1946 and transitioned it to my Dad, aunts/uncles, John Dodson and Bob Fox in 1985. It’s important to note, however, that it’s not been a walk in the park because I’m family. Just like every team member, I’ve had to find my niche, work hard at it, build solid relationships and help the company succeed.
AM Do you want your kids to come work for Color Art?
GRJ I am open to it but it’s never an expectation. Working here needs to be something they’re passionate about.
AM What’s your favorite thing about Color Art?
GRJ Oh, for me it’s the history, the family, the team members I’ve met throughout my time here. I know what has already passed and I get to see what is coming. It’s a wonderful vantage point. I have heard both my Grandpa and my Dad talk about the company and what they envision so it’s fun to remember those conversations as we work toward the future.
AM Do you think your grandfather would be happy with where the company is now?
GRJ It’s funny that you ask that. Grandpa wrote his last words to the company on the day he retired in 1984 and published them in two companywide newsletters (presents them and points to a few interesting facts). It’s fascinating to read what he envisioned and know where we are today. I think he’d be pretty pleased. AM So we’re not screwing up too badly? He’s not going to smite us? GRJ (laughs) No. There will be no smiting.
AM (looking at the newsletters, shocked) I mean, I literally have not seen these until this moment. This old logo, it is not far from the new logo we just released. GRJ (nods) Yep. Kinda scary. AM (sidetracked) Ok. This is really neat but I don’t want to get too far from the Gary portion of the interview. This is more the history portion. GRJ But, that’s what I’m saying. Part of me is the history, that’s why I’m here.
AM Any jobs you feel like you’d be terrible at?
GRJ Haha! Sales. I’m not good at it. I like it! But, I’m just not that good at it.
AM Is there something you’re into that not a lot of people know about?
GRJ I’m big on expressing myself with how I look. I like wearing something weird, like the colorful scarves that make me famous in fall. Even when I was a kid, I had the “business in the front, party in the back” haircut. I always try to be a little eccentric or shocking just to keep things fun.
AM Do you remember the name and type of your first pet?
GRJ Yes. Puddles. Puddles was a loud, barky poodle / labrador mutt that we had. He peed everywhere. AM And that’s why you named him Puddles?! GRJ Yeah, that’s it. (laughs) AM Oh! The poor little dog was just living up to his name, he didn’t have a choice! GRJ (laughing) Exactly, but I did love that dog. In 6th grade, I wrote an action book titled “Puddles, The Supermutt.” My kids love reading it.
AM What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
GRJ Oh man. (thinks) I think you have to go to New York City. We took our kids for this first time this past summer because we love it so much. When you’re in New York City, Manhattan, you’re in the center of the universe; it’s so international, you never see the same thing twice. It’s really freakin’ cool.
AM If you didn’t sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
GRJ Y’know, to be honest, I’d love to work out. I’d love to spend time taking care of my health. I’d be playing golf or doing other activities. I played golf in college but I’ve lost that skill and it sucks.
AM Any TV channels you refuse to watch?
GRJ I despise the news so just, any news channel, get rid of it. I hate’m. AM Any channels you would add? GRJ I can’t think of anything I would like to add. There’s so much already out there. I’d really like to see the movies that are still in theaters but that’s probably illegal. AM So we probably shouldn’t put that on the record. GRJ Probably not.
AM What’s your favorite way to start the day
GRJ I start the day with a dog walk, good shower, at work by six.
AM What would your last meal be?
GRJ Last meal on earth? I would have a Thai Bowl from Crazy Bowls and Wraps.
Sports Teams St. Louis FC (soccer)
Superhero Puddles the Supermutt!
Movie Probably Schindler’s List. It’s heavy. I love historical biographies.
Holiday Thanksgiving. My wife, Laurie, is quite the chef and that is her day to shine.
Dessert Anything chocolate
Pineapple on your pizza? NO! Are you kidding?
St. Louis Destination Soccer Park