Four decades of investing with Gordon Crawford
- Gordon Crawford
- Portfolio manager
- Based in:
- Los Angeles
- Investment experience:
WILL MCKENNA: How did you find your way to Capital?
GORDON CRAWFORD: Well, I almost didn’t come to Capital. I was at the University of Virginia Graduate Business School. I was getting my MBA there. It’s now the Darden School, and I was one of those odd people that from, really, the moment I started business school, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: I wanted to be a securities analyst. There weren’t a lot of people that said that when they went to business school.
I was interviewing all of the usual suspects: T. Rowe Price, Fidelity, Goldman, Morgan Stanley. And both my wife and I were bartending to put me through school. We had a child — we were supporting ourselves — and one day I had a motorcycle and a motorcycle jacket on, I stopped by the school at 5:00 to pick up some cases on the way to my bartending job and I bumped into my finance professor. And he said, “Geez, you’re not signed up for Capital.” And I said, “Who is Capital?” And he says, “It’s a great, small, private investment-management company in Los Angeles. Go home, call in sick, get a suit on and I’ll try to convince these guys to stay.” And they did. And the rest is history.
WILL MCKENNA: You told us a story about how you came to Capital. It sounds like you were a risk taker even then, driving a motorcycle. I hope you don’t drive one today.
GORDON CRAWFORD: I don’t.
WILL MCKENNA: Why did you stay? You must have had opportunities to go elsewhere, but you’ve been here for 40 years.
GORDON CRAWFORD: It never occurred to me to leave. I’ve been here 41 years. Almost nobody leaves Capital. If I think back over that 41 years, I could probably count on one hand the people that for a variety of reasons have left that we wouldn’t have wanted to have left.
It’s the best place to manage money in the business. It’s a privately held company with a conservative nature to it, a balance sheet that creates this enormous comfort zone so that when you have these very difficult times (1973/’74, 1980/’82)-- I remember when you had the crash in 1987, October 1987, the market went down 20% in one day. There was tremendous fear in the business. I remember calling friends that worked for hedge funds and small investment-management companies. They didn’t know if at the end of that quarter, which was a month and a half away, their business was going to go away. So they were running scared. At Capital I knew we were a private company, we had a history of investing in down markets — I mean investing in our capabilities in down markets. So I spent my day thinking about what stocks I wanted to buy. So there’s that.
There’s the culture of collegial, cooperative interaction between people. So it’s a wonderful place to manage money. It’s all we do. And the culture is one where the client is the total focus. I never wanted to work for a company [where] I would ever have to feel like I wasn’t proud of any decision that was made if I read about it in the LA Times or The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal the next day. And in 41 years, I have never been put in a situation where any decision that we made was anything but of the highest ethical order and always focused on the long-term benefit of our clients.
So it never occurred to me to work anywhere else. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have come to work here and never looked back.
- Eyewitness to the birth of an industry
- Anatomy of a winning (and losing) investment
- On playing confidant to industry movers and shakers
- Growth Fund's remarkable journey
- Enduring secular trends buoy this "tailwind investor"
- Succession planning made easy
- Capital's stability, culture promote staying power