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William Hyatt Gordon: people’s needs are foremost

Thursday, 05 December 2013

William Hyatt Gordon: An American Entrepreneur and PhilanthropistAs a journalist I cannot complain that I don’t meet enough famous people. However, up until recently among them was not a single American Entrepreneur. And here she is – Lady Luck. My interview is not simply with a successful businessman and Chief Executive Officer of a multinational Economic Development Fund, but with a very interesting conversationalist with strikingly captivating biography and extraordinary approach to business.

His name is William Hyatt Gordon and he is the owner of a Gordon Atlantic Development, a Single Family Office (SFO) that pursues economic development on a worldwide basis. The firm is involved in various projects in sphere of construction, medicine, sport, culture, show business.  William Gordon will describe the work of the company, of which he is the leader.

As a historian, I was interested to find out that my guest is a member of a renowned American family.  William’s ancestor, Nathaniel Gordon, was a resident of Colonial Virginia, quite prominent during the American Revolutionary War.  Some sources connect Nathaniel Gordon with renowned beer brewer, Sam Adams from Massachusetts – the hero during the American War for Independence.   Although not a brewer like Samuel Adams of Massachusetts of the same day, Nathaniel Gordon did not brew beer but bought a piece of land and built Gordon Tavern – a hotel with a tavern, where USA forefathers stayed.  President Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1802 that Gordon Tavern is an excellent place where one can eat well and stay the night. Subsequently, other businesses appeared around Gordon Tavern, post office and the place transformed into Gordonsville.  Now it’s a small town in Virginia very close to Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Monticello.

-Dr. Gordon, your company works in various spheres, your achievements are impressive: medical and educational facilities, stadiums, cultural projects.  Tell me a little bit about your business.

We operate in two ways, as a consultant on extremely large economic development projects, or to put forward the most advanced human experience projects in the sports, entertainment, leisure, medical, senior care or university environments. We are about being the best in every category, the best design, the best technology, the best global partnerships with Fortune 500 companies, the best strategy, but most importantly we are providing the best experience for the end user, the public at large. Our commercial strategies almost always bring together the most renowned architects, designers, and Fortune 500 players, as well as the most innovative financial structures to enhance the quality of living for those that interact with out projects. We have found a competitive advantage in bringing forward large sports, entertainment, and leisure projects. Although, I am from a very old family, we operate Gordon Atlantic in a very innovative way. We seek innovative, fun, hip, culturally interesting projects. We are not old fashion people! Our power comes from the fact that we are able to implement innovative projects that meet traditional standards of economic development on a global basis and are active on every continent except Antarctica, however we are looking into traveller’s options there as well. We are especially proud of our new fund SELF, an economic development Sports Entertainment and Leisure Fund.

- Now it is true that your Master’s in Business Administration thesis, and Doctorate of Business Administration dissertation focused on innovations in the airline industry can you tell us a little bit about that and where you are today?

Back in the 1990s a lot of people believed Southwest Airlines made money because “they were fun and friendly”. I proved that while people liked to fly them, because they were “fun and friendly” they made money because they were better energy managers. Later, I reconfigured a Boeing 737, which at the time was the most fuel-efficient plane, into an all business-class jet instead of two-class system…and applied the plane to medium haul routes at American, British Airways, and JAL. After the Concorde ceased operations, various companies applied an all business class format to their fleet. Currently, British Airways – Open Skies subsidiary, and Singapore Airlines utilize an all-business class format internationally. Here in the United States, Delta offers an all business-class format between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Currently, we are investigating the maximization of profitability by offering a Casino-in-the-Air via an all first-class configuration to take a bite out of the all business class market. We have a long-term goal of bringing forward a competing and American version of Virgin Galactic. We are a few funds out on this …but we do believe that we will be able to set up a fund for this purpose within the next five years. The commercialization of space is definitely the next step forward, and we want to be a part of it. Even the Chinese are on the moon via Jade Rabbit. We want to be a part of the space movement for sure, but not to deliver satellites, rather to deliver passengers on an affordable basis. We want to make that dream real, and will! Theoretically, we can pay for it via financial structuring, but we have not been able to develop the aircraft. Virgin is way ahead in that regard. However, we have deep relationships via the aviation industry, and believe with the right team…we can do something amazing.

-Does your company, Dr. Gordon, pay special attention to energy-saving technologies?

Definitely, I am a United States Green Building Council – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – Accredited Professional (USGBC-LEED-AP) – that is a designation given by successfully completing a test. To be honest, we consider Green to be the new Beige, not the new Black…we want green concepts to be everyday and routine. We have adopted a corporate policy where all of our projects are green, but we want them to be hip and innovative as well. We follow a “Quarter Century” plan and focus on economic development strategies that make sense on a environmental basis over a twenty-five (25) year period.

-We know that you have recently started a new Sports Entertainment and Leisure Fund called SELF, but you have deep origins in healthcare, can you talk about some of those goals.

Yes there has been a lot of focus on SELF lately, but naturally we are still concerned with the accessibility of quality healthcare clinics though out the United States. The firm is a member of the United States Department of Health and Human Resources - Healthy People 2020, as well as the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative. Dr. Paul Grundy, IBM Corporation’s Global Director of Healthcare Transformation introduced me to the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH), a type of local healthcare clinic. In this role, Dr. Grundy develops and executes strategies that support IBM’s healthcare-industry transformation initiatives, including the technology to manage Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMH). We joined these structures to be able to help our private clients who want to open medical facilities in places where medical services are scarce.  These are so-called Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) and Medically Underserved Areas / Populations.

Many Americans know that lack of health insurance makes accessing medical services very difficult.  Nevertheless, the problem of medical facilities shortages in many areas is equally important. University of Southern California research demonstrated quite significant outcomes of people who were diagnosed with last stages of stomach and kidney cancers that were elderly or poor where it took  more than 45 minutes to get to a doctor. Even in New York, where we should not lack doctors, we still notice inequality in accessing medical services, depending on race and ethnicity along with financial assets.  The health state of poor residents of “Capital of the World” is significantly worse than the health state of rich and prosperous neighborhoods.  This is why Gordon Atlantic Development Corporation includes in our priorities the development of medical facilities in places where access to medical services is limited.  Profit is good but people and their needs come first.

-We have heard a rumor that you have been quietly working on a project in Russia, and recently spoke at a conference in St. Petersburg about MagLevs, can you tell us about this?

Yes, the rumor is true, I have been working with National Speed Ways, a private company in Russia to implement a new commuter MagLev system. All together the new project will be cover 30 kilometers in routes. The systems main goal is to unite new areas of residential and commercial development to the existing metro system. The first phase will be a 7 to 10  kilometer track with approximate 6 stops. I put together a partnership with KIMM (The Korean Institute of Machinery and Materials)/Hyundai-Rotem, and National Speed Ways, the Russian company because KIMM/Hyundai-Rotem just implemented the same type system at Seoul’s Incheon Airport. Additionally KIMM/Hyundai-Rotem are implementing a system similar to the one we are introducing in St. Petersburg in Daejeon, South Korea, called Metro Line 2. I chose to move forward with KIMM/Hyundai-Rotem, because their system is ready to go, we want to “copy and paste” the system in St. Petersburg in time for the FIFA World Cup in 2018. The Russian system will be more socially consciousness thanks to Gordon Atlantic’s influence, and the pathways will be green ways, that will facilitate cycling, pedestrian, and athletic use. We like to think that we are developing parkways, not MagLev pathways. Finally, as St. Petersburg is one of the world’s most glamorous and art conscious cities, we are happy to announce that a significant public art campaign will be introduced into the MagLev to compliment the city’s epic structures like Peterhof, Pavlovsk Palace, the Mariinsky Theatre and of course the Hermitage, and will truly be a signature 21st Century St. Petersburg project in every way.

Magnetic levitation train, magnitoplan or maglev (from Eng. Magnetic Levitation) – is a train, held over the roadbed, driven and controlled by the power of electromagnetic field. This composition is, unlike conventional trains , during movement does not touch the surface of the rail. Since the surface between the train and the web there is a gap, the friction between them is eliminated and only the retarding force is the aerodynamic drag . Refers to the monorail transport (although instead of a magnetic rail can be arranged between the channel magnets - both JR-Maglev ).
Speed achievable magnetic levitation train, comparable to the speed of the aircraft and allows compete air transport on short and medium areas (up to 1000 km)]

-As far as I know, projects connected with MagLev technology require a lot of money and have technical difficulties.  The paths from Tokyo to Nagoya together with Tokyo – Osaka will cost Japan $112 Billion, will this be true in St. Petersburg?

Absolutely not, the first phase is expected to cost $300 million to $400 million dollars all inclusive. These commuter MagLevs only reach a maximum speed of 70 to 80 KM. So, the technology is very different, even though the concept is the same. The great  benefit is that the operating costs are significantly less. Additionally, we already have most of the finance set up, and are simply waiting for final municipal approvals to move forward with Birmingham, England-based Arden Partners to raise the equity via a stock-issue. Investors globally can participate in the new project as well.

-Thank you very much, Dr. Gordon, for allowing me to speak with you.  We wish you success in your business and in developing the new project in Russia.

-Thank you.  Best wishes to “Russkaya Reklama” and its readers.



William Hyatt Gordon: An American Entrepreneur and Philanthropist


Interview by: Mikhail Tripolsky

Photos by: Rick Day