Bluhdorn, Charles G.
- John N. Ingham
Bluhdorn, Charles G. (20 September 1926–19 February 1983), conglomerate entrepreneur, was born in Vienna, Austria, the son of Paul Bluhdorn and Rose (maiden name unknown). Bluhdorn was first educated in his native Austria, but fled after Hitler invaded, and was sent to school in England. In 1942 he came to the United States, where he worked for a cotton broker in New York City and attended the City College of New York. In 1945 Bluhdorn joined the U.S. Army Air Force. When he was released he got a job with an import-export firm and attended Columbia University in the evenings. In 1949 Bluhdorn formed his own importing firm, which specialized in commodities. The venture was very successful, and within five years he was a millionaire. Desiring to find a business less subject to the vicissitudes of the commodities markets, Bluhdorn purchased a controlling interest in Michigan Plating and Stamping, a small auto bumper manufacturer that had an almost worthless contract with Studebaker Motors. The firm was listed on the New York Stock Exchange, however, and provided Bluhdorn with an entrance to the auto parts distribution segment of the rapidly expanding auto industry. The next year he acquired an auto parts replacement firm, Beard and Stone Electric of Houston, Texas. He merged the two businesses to create the Gulf and Western Corporation, a move that began an auto parts distribution network in the southwestern states....