Local business magnate Gerald Smith chairman and CEO of Smith Graham & Co., an investment management firm headquartered here in Houston, was recently inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame. "I was quite humbled when I first found out about it," Smith tells Houstonia. "If you're familiar with the Business Hall of Fame, you know that after you're inducted you're referred to as a legend, and it really speaks to the caliber of people who have been initiated. It's a who's who of business and philanthropy in Texas. I was humbled and honored to be inducted."
The news of Smith's induction comes shortly after the City of Houston recognized Gerald B. Smith and Anita Webber Smith Day for their extraordinary community and philanthropic giving. As an entrepreneur, Smith has been in the investment business for over 45 years and founded his company, SGIA 31 years ago. The firm holds the title of one of the nation’s largest minority-owned investment management firms and one of the largest investment management firms based in Houston. He has served diverse, institutional clients, "including public funds, corporations, endowments, along with Taft-Hartley plans and currently manages over $6 billion in fixed income, Mortgage & Real Estate Debt, and equity institutional assets," a press release notes.
Of six inductees, Smith was the sole person of color given the esteemed honor this year. "I think the Texas Business Hall Of Fame has been around for 37 years. In that time frame, there have only been three African-Americans who had been inducted, and I'm actually the third in that three decades period," Smith explains. "So even though I feel like I'm not the first the fact is, we do have to change the status quo."
Alongside his extensive career accolades, Smith also holds board member positions with companies such as New York Life Insurance and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and is chairman of the Texas Southern University Foundation. As a proud graduate of TSU and education advocate, Smith also received an honorary doctorate degree from his alma mater, where he helped institute the Gerald B. Smith Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation to provide a platform for young people of color to have viable opportunities in the professional business sector.
"I think that's what's so great about what the Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation is doing is because part of this whole aspect of the induction is that they raise money for their Scholars Program, where they have students who have started their own businesses and they provide scholarships and funding to help them in their businesses, Smith said. "Out of the 50 or so scholars who were presented during this event, close to 50 percent were either women or people of color. So that gives me you know, strong encouragement that the numbers will change because there is a sense of really focusing on changing the status quo over the long term."
Smith was inducted alongside five other honorees, including, Dallas Maverick's owner Mark Cuban, co-founder of Patrón Tequila John Paul DeJoria, private investors John Goff, and Morton Meyerson, and former chairman of AT&T, Randall Stephenson.