Tootsie Roll's Chicago headquarters is a modern-day Willy Wonka factory. Massive puffs of steam billow out of humming machines on the roofs of the gray cinder block and red brick buildings, which sit surrounded by off-kilter "no trespassing" signs. The Gordons haven't granted an interview in years. The company declined repeated interview requests, saying "we have opted to use our quarterly earnings releases as a way to provide continuing updates to all business media at once."
Mr. Gordon is currently the oldest CEO of a business listed on the New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq Stock Market, according to research company S&P Capital IQ. The company's proxy statement in March lists his age as 92, and his wife's as 80. The three non-Gordon members of the Tootsie Roll board ranged in age from 65 to 74, and at least one other top executive is over 70.
The Gordons have given no hint that they intend to retire and no indication of health problems. "Their age is no concern, none whatsoever," said Jerry Schmutzler, 70, who works the midnight shift in the boiler room of Tootsie Roll's Chicago factory. The company also has plants in four other states, as well as Canada and Mexico.92 seems pretty aged, but what do I know? Assuming that Mr. Gordon is still of sound mind (and that the board is not completely toothless), the company seems to be rolling along just fine. (And kudos to having a 70-year-old boiler man -- that's the heart of America, right there.)
Who's the oldest chemistry-related leader/CEO? A few years ago, I received a return phone message from Reuben Rieke, after I called to order some material. I estimate that he's in his early 70s, but that's just a guess. Emeritus professors hang around departments for a very long time, but that's very different than being a CEO or a senior manager.
Readers, who's the oldest chemist that you've worked with?