gmhTODAY 06 gmhToday Jan Feb 2016 - Page 21

The Legacy that is The Goldsmith Family S Written By Larry J. Mickartz omething unusual happened recently. Within the span of a month, Glen Goldsmith, retired and living in Hawaii, was inducted into the Gilroy Hall of Fame and his son, Joel Goldsmith was named the 2016 Man of the Year by the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce. To understand this uncommon happening, we took a look at the history of the Goldsmith family in Gilroy. In 1962 the Goldsmith arrived in Gilroy. Jane and Glen were on a mission to make a better life and start a business in the sunny climate of Gilroy. Glen had experience growing hybrid plants and a shift in the horticultural community made his experience valuable. Early in his career, hybrid seeds were $35 a pound. Growing demand pushed their value to $150 an ounce. This opened the door to research opportunities and the Goldsmiths marched in. Before long, Goldsmith Seeds, now Syngenta, was a thriving international seed business with locations in Gilroy, Holland, Guatemala and Africa. Along the way the family developed a legacy of giving back to the community professionally and personally. Goldsmith Seeds became an “enjoyable” place to work. Cash bonuses were distributed, a profit- sharing plan was set-up for employees and the company funded scholarships. Glen, an active Rotary member, began the tradition of giving surplus exhibition plants to the Gilroy Rotary for an annual flower sale. A 25-year tradition of giving to the community raised approximately $30,000 annually for local charities and the beauty of Goldsmith flowers were planted through- out the community. Jane and Glen were fully involved community volunteers and donors. In 1991 the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce recognized them as the Man and Woman of the Year for their professional and personal contributions. On the professional side Glen and Jane were also recognized by the government of Guatemala for their contributions to their employees, the economy and the well-being of that country. As the company grew Goldsmith was able to direct some profits back into a variety of projects. Some were more successful than others. One project to develop a soybean seed specific to California failed when the processing plant in the Central Valley did not open as planned. Many other projects succeeded, helping to establish Goldsmith Seeds as a premier seed wholesaler. In its prime years Glen was the scientist, son, Joel, the businessman, and son, Richard, the horticulturist. One interesting company story has connections to 9-11. Fears of agro-terrorism led to the ban of a bacteria, Ralstonia Solanacearum, which could have decimated the potato crop. However, this bacteria in a less virulent form was also found on some Geraniums and led to a government quarantine of over 1,000 greenhouses, including the Goldsmith’s. After lengthy negotiations with National Security personnel the issue was finally resolved, but not before the Geranium crop was lost. Joel Goldsmith eventually took over the leadership of the family business. He continued the tradition of treating employees as family and established an on-site employee daycare facility. After the sale of the business to GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016 Syngenta, Joel stepped up his community involvement. While still working, Joel served in a leadership capacity in several international flower related organizations. Locally Joel has directed his leadership skills to the Gilroy Foundation, Gilroy Gardens, Community Solutions, Rotary, Leadership Gilroy and St. Joseph’s Family Center. For these efforts he is being recognized as the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year for 2016. In an interview with the Chamber he said: “It all goes back to how I was raised. …Trying to make things better was a big part of what my parents did. I’ve been very fortunate in my career and my life, which has given me the time and resources to make Gilroy a better place.” This honor for Joel comes a year after his wife, Paula Goldsmith, was recognized as the Chamber 2015 Woman of the Year. Paula was recognized for her work with GALs (Gilroy Assistance League), Community Solutions and the Gilroy Foundation. How does it happen that one family can garner so many awards for community service? Goldsmith Seeds was involved with plant genetics…could it be that the Goldsmith family has a genetic disposition to community service? Whatever the reason, we are grateful for the contribution of the Goldsmith family… Jane, Glen, Joel, and Paula. 21