Gonzalez is a family-owned company, still rooted in the community. But to us, the words roots and community have special meaning. So we make sure those roots remain strong by helping our community be stronger. That means jobs in our community. Training, investment and growth. And it means we take a stake in the future of our community even as we invest in our own.
Ric Gonzalez Memorial Foundation
The Ric Gonzalez Memorial Foundation was created in 2004 to honor the life and gifts of Fredrick Julian Gonzalez. Frederick or Ric, as he was known to friends and family, was born in Detroit, Michigan on June 28, 1949. Ric was raised in Harper Woods, Michigan. In his time in the Grosse Pointe Schools he became a star athlete and Honor student. As a multi-year letterman in football and track, and carrying a 4.0 GPA, Ric set his sights on college and continuing his football career. However on December 30, 1967, that dream was cut short when he was involved in a head-on collision while returning from a skiing trip. Ric sustained multiple injuries and was left paralyzed from the chest down. Over the next eight months and through three hospitals, Ric began his slow recovery. While he would remain paralyzed the rest of his life, his achievements were exemplary.
Ric became an accomplished artist, guitar player and entrepreneur. He graduated from Princeton University in 1972 with a degree in Architecture and Urban Planning. After a few years spent traveling the country painting he began work at Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, a leading Detroit architecture firm. Working in a corporate structure never really suited Ric or his incredible lust for life. Change came in 1975 when he joined his father, Henry Gonzalez, to found Gonzalez Design Engineering Company. For nearly three decades Ric would lead the growth and diversification of the family-owned company building it into a $100 million a year organization with over 700 employees.
In 1980, Ric married his lovely wife, Ricca, a loving union that lasted until Ric’s passing in 2004. For a man confined to a wheelchair that might seem to be enough. Achieving “enough,” however, was not how Ric defined his life. He was involved in dozens of charitable causes. He made time in his own life to meet and talk with troubled youth in the Southwest Detroit community where his father grew up. And he sat on the Board of Directors of organizations dedicated to furthering higher education, minority business development and stemming gang violence. His ever-present smile would light up a room as he rolled in and his love of humanity could be felt by everyone he ever met.
While Ric was confined to his wheelchair for 36 years he was never defined by it. He brought to this world more than he ever took back and in so doing showed the world what it means to be a human being.
The Ric Gonzalez Memorial Foundation was created to reflect the spirit of giving back which Ric embodied. The Foundation solicits donations through direct appeals and fundraising events. The goal is to build an equity fund invested in a portfolio of high quality stocks and bonds through a recognized brokerage. The investment criteria are to maintain the equity and generate income. The income is then used to provide scholarships to Hispanic Youth from Southeast Michigan, helping them attend the College or University of their choice.
All directors and staff of the Foundation are volunteers. Only routine expenses such as printing costs, mailing and costs associated with fundraising events will be drawn from the equity fund. The Foundation has been granted 501(c)(3) status by the IRS assuring that all donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.
The Hispanic Manufacturing Center - The Gonzalez Commitment to the Community
In 1995, Gonzalez Design Engineering, The Ideal Group, and Uni Boring, three suburban Detroit, Hispanic-owned manufacturers supplying the automobile industry formed a partnership. The goal: Create an Empowerment Zone in a region where all three firms had deep community roots. An area in southwest Detroit, known locally as Mexicantown, has both a large Hispanic population and an untapped labor pool. That’s exactly where the companies joined to expand their operations to a 22-acre facility.
The Hispanic Manufacturing Center (HMC) became one of the largest and most recognized empowerment zone operators in the nation. The business owners worked with the Mexicantown CDC and the Southwest Detroit Development Corp. Together, they hired contractors to restore the area, helped finance the environmental clean-up of commercial sites for area merchants and organized community policing programs that reduced neighborhood crime.
In a parallel effort, the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation created a job-training program targeting gang members and welfare recipients. Participants receive training in welding and advanced manufacturing techniques such as computer-assisted production and quality assurance inspection.
Community leaders in the area are now promoting local tourism, sponsoring Hispanic festivals and marketing campaigns for area restaurants. As a direct result, the community is fostering more business expansions and relocations to the area.
The combination of our empowerment zone location with a strong community partnership for training development and implementation resulted in a powerful equation that benefits the businesses and community of Southwest Detroit.