When Paul Andrews lost his job at General Dynamics, he didn’t wait around for a new opportunity — he created his own.
Andrews, founder and CEO of TTI Inc., knew there was a growing market for electronics components and began selling parts out of his Fort Worth garage as Tex-Tronics. It was 1971 and the gig was meant to be a short-term operation to bring in a little income while he looked for a more permanent job. Over 50 years Andrews grew TTI into an international company with more than 7,000 employees and over 130 locations in North America, Europe and Asia.
“He really built an international super power,” said John Roach, who introduced Andrews to Warren Buffett in the mid-2000s.
Andrews died Sunday. He was 78.
He graduated from Arlington Heights High School and attended the University of Texas and TCU. In 2011 he was inducted into the Fort Worth Business Hall of Fame and in September received the Susan Halsey Executive Leadership Award.
He parlayed his self-made business success into extensive philanthropic work with his wife, Judy.
Andrews contributed to TCU and Texas Wesleyan University, which both awarded him honorary doctorate degrees, according to a Fort Worth Chamber biography. At TCU the couple contributed to the expansion of the school’s math and science institute, which is now the Andrews Institute of Mathematics & Science Education. They also provided an endowment gift to the John V. Roach Honors College.
In 1996 the couple funded the Paul and Judy Andrews Industrial Distribution Conference Center at Texas A&M and in 2011 Andrews established the Fund for Global Research and Education in Texas A&M’s Industrial Distribution Program.
An avid car collector, Andrews also helped establish the Dr. Bob Woods Chair in Automotive Engineering at UT Arlington.
In 2005, the couple supported contributions to build the Paul and Judy Andrews Women’s Hospital at Baylor All Saints Medical Center in Fort Worth.
The Paul E. Andrews Jr. Foundation has focused on education and health care initiatives in Fort Worth since 2007.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy price, in a prepared statement, said she was “devastated” by Andrews’ death. She had known Andrews since her time as tax assessor and called him “a man of integrity” with “trailblazing passion.“
“Paul embodied the American Dream, and his success at TTI is a credit to his pioneering spirit and business acumen,” price said. “But his philanthropic endeavors, including the Paul and Judy Andrews Women’s Hospital at Baylor Scott & White, are just as significant and will leave a lasting impact on the lives of others.”
Roach said Andrews remained quiet about his donations and did not want to attraction attention.
“I just think he was a humble humanitarian,” Roach said during a phone call, slightly choked up. “The community has had a big loss.”
Andrews was no stranger to hard work even before beginning TTI. He worked as a roughneck on oil rigs off Louisiana’s coast, sold Bibles door-to-door in Tennessee and worked as a surveyor’s assistant on the crew that built the downtown Fort Worth federal building, according to the Chamber biography.
Roach, who was chairman and CEO of Tandy Corp. from 1983-1999, introduced Andrews to Buffett, the Berkshire Hathaway CEO, when Andrews expressed interest in selling TTI to ensure the company’s future, Roach said. Buffett purchased the company in 2007 when TTI had already grown to include several of its own subsidiaries, including Mouser Electronics, Sager Electronics and the TTI Semiconductor Group. Andrews remained CEO.
According to a TTI statement on his death, Andrews was described by Buffett in 2018 as having done an “absolutely sensational job with us.”
“He’s a wonderful man. He’s a wonderful manager,” Buffett said in 2018.
According to the TTI statement, in lieu of flowers, charitable contributions may be directed to the Andrews Women’s Hospital Endowment Fund, C/O Amy Adkins, 1400 8th Ave., Fort Worth 76104; or the Presbyterian Night Shelter, C/O Brenda Rios, 2400 Cypress St., Fort Worth 76102.