Kevork Hovnanian – A Public Relations Hero

September 25, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Kevork Hovnanian, the founder of the company for which I work, passed away last night. (http://tinyurl.com/yarcxa4 ) He was 86. “Mister,” as we called him, was an old-style businessman. He came to this country in the 1950s and founded what became Hovnanian Enterprises in 1959. He did things the old-fashioned way: tough, but fair and honest. The first time I met him was while I was waiting to see someone else in the executive suite. He asked me how our relationship with the media was. I assured him it was fine. He warned me to never forget the importance of the local newspapers and to make sure we maintained those relationships. And he thought he was a builder, not a PR guy…

He was a philanthropist, giving back to the community in a variety of ways and encouraging the company bearing his name and its associates to do the same. He and his company associates were active in the community, his industry and the politics of both.

A few years ago, I was among a group of associates he addresssed, something he hasn’t done very often in the last few years. He urged us to to treat  each other and our customers with respect and fairness. He reminded us whose name was on the door, and told us he was proud of that. He asked us to always act in a way that would allow him to continue to be proud to have his name there.

We talk these days so much about ethical behavior, customer satisfaction and customer retention. Seems to me that Mister pegged it: respect, fairness and keeping the name on the door something those of us representing that name can be proud of.

Since Mister started the company 50 years ago, it’s grown to be a Fortune 1000 publicly traded company. Like any person working for any big company, there are days that leave me frustrated and angry. But you know what? For a PR Guy, it’s good to work at a place where associates remember that the founder urged respect, fairness and pride in the company name. Seems like a good formula for success.

I, for one, will continue to represent the company to its constituents with those traits in mind.

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Entry filed under: Public Relatons Adventures at K Hovnanian, stuff & rants. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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