March 2024



G ary Kusin was born a third generation Texarkanian. His grandfather immigrated to Texarkana on his way to Monroe, Louisiana, to join his brother’s highly successful mattress manufacturing business. “The train stopped in Texarkana on a Saturday at lunch and all the farmers were in town selling their produce,” he said. “My grandfather, David Kusin, got off the train to stretch his legs, took in the hustle and bustle and said, ‘Why would I go anywhere else?’” After winning a good bit of money on a troopship coming home from World War I, he started Texas Furniture, which successfully stayed in business for 70 years. “My time in Texarkana was very formative, which I talk about in my new book (coming out April 30), but my parents put me to work at the furniture store warehouse to unload boxes and trucks in seventh grade to help straighten out my problem-child ways. It only moderately worked,” Kusin said jokingly. Later, Kusin’s dad and uncle, Leo Bishkin, went on to

open up the iconic Holiday Bowl. “Every kid in our family became big bowlers, because we were dropped off there after school each day.” A proud alumnus of Texas High School, Kusin was in his element being voted “most active” and also being the student body president his senior year. “The school district means a lot to me,” said Kusin, “because being student body president my senior year led to a lot of fortuitous things in my life.” That role landed him in the chair next to Ross Perot at graduation, which catapulted him into a lifelong mentorship and friendship with one of the great businessmen of our time. After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin, Kusin headed back to Texarkana to work in the family furniture business during the day and at Holiday Bowl each night. “I got very frustrated when I was accepted to Harvard Business School, because they told me I had to work for two more years before starting school. I had already been working since I was 11,

so I got in my car, drove to Boston, and marched right into the office of the Director of Admissions of the business school and told them they made a mistake.” Charmed by his bravado, the school challenged him to prove to them why he should receive special consideration, and Kusin gladly rose to the challenge. “Long story short, I generated more profits in the next 12 months than there were revenues in the previous 12 months, said Kusin.” It should come as no surprise to anyone that Harvard Business School took Kusin after only one year, and the rest is history. One leadership principle that Kusin was born understanding is the mantra that you don’t quit a job until it’s done. “You don’t need to go to Harvard Business School for that. You do need to have a deep reserve of energy, a passion for whatever it is you are doing, and a belief that no one—and I mean no one—is going to beat you or outwork you,” said Kusin. In 2001, Kusin was tasked with turning around Kinkos, one of the biggest chains of



Made with FlippingBook - Online catalogs