Texas A&M has always exemplified the thingsÂ Barnett L. Gershen’s mother first taught him. Those lessons were remembered this month when Barnett and his wife Sam, of Houston, committed more than $1 million to establish the Barnett L. ’69 andÂ Sam GershenÂ Learning Endowment at Mays.
After his father’s death when Barnett was very young, he and his mother made a living with a janitorial company they ran from the family garage. Hard work and dedication formed a part of Margie Gershen Abrams’ legacy for her young son.
Those values, reinforced in his business undergraduate course work at Texas A&M, helped Barnett build the family-owned Associated Building Services into one of the largest privately-owned building maintenance companies in the nation with more than 13,000 employees. When he considered how to repay Texas A&M for its influence on his early life, Barnett said he looked no further than Mays.
“This business school looks like it’s serious about making a difference in education and in the world,” says Barnett, who earned a BBA in management from Texas A&M in 1969. “What a good place to start helping other people get the same opportunities that I had.”
The Gershen Endowment will support the life and advancement of the business school through its faculty, students, facilities and technology.
“The Gershen name will always occupy a prominent place in our school and, through this learning endowment, will provide us with the opportunity to pursue new initiatives and increase existing strengths,” said Dean Jerry Strawser. “The Gershens are a wonderful example to our students of how to help others and make a difference in the world.”
After graduating with his BBA in 1969, Barnett headed to the University of Texas for an MBA, which he earned in 1971.Â He served in the U.S. Army, retiring as captain.Â Throughout his life, Barnett worked in Associated Building Services, serving as CEO for more than 30 years until 2004, when the company merged to create one of the largest maintenance companies in the United States.
Barnett spent a year and a half implementing major initiatives as vice president of organizational development at Keystone Automotive Industries, Inc. He set up Gershen Consulting, LLC, in early 2006. He is now a senior management consultant and investor helping businesses take their practice to the next level. Barnett is a 2004 Mays Business SchoolÂ Outstanding Alumni and member of the Mays Dean’s Development Council.
His wife Sam is retired from a career of commercial property management, and now focuses on the family’s own properties as well as charitable activities. The couple has four children and four grandchildren, Shelby, Connor, Abby and Riley. Barnett’s son Louis is an award-winning student chef, and his daughter Mallory is a pre-law student on scholarship at Tulane. Sam’s daughter Karen, Class of ’87, is a teacher at Cypress-Fairbanks ISD and her son David, Class of ’89, is a consultant.