Eli Hurvitz 1932-2011

"Globes" recalls the life of the man who built Teva and was "the Ben Gurion of Israel's industry."

Eli Hurvitz was born in 1932 in Jerusalem to parents who immigrated to the country in the 1920s. The family moved to Tel Aviv when he was a boy. Hurvitz used to say that his father worked as a coal miner in Austria for two years to finance the family's immigration, and that he worked as a plasterer and dryer of swamps after his arr9val.

Hurvitz was a teenager in high school when Israel's War of Independence broke out in 1947, and he was drafted and saw combat, despite his young age. Later, he took a reserve officers course and he ended his reserve duty with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

In 1949, as a member of an IDF Nahal unit, he helped found Kibbutz Tel Katzir in the Jordan Valley near the Kinneret, where he lived for several years.

Hurvitz completed his BA in economics in 1957 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Even before completing his degree, in 1953 he joined Assia Ltd., one the companies that would, together with Zori, merge to create Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (Nasdaq: TEVA; TASE: TEVA). Hurvitz's first job was to wash laboratory equipment, from which he worked his way up to become CEO.

"When I arrived at Assia's pharmaceutical plant, I was asked what I could do. In fact, I knew nothing except how to drive the tractor, which I brought from Tel Katzir. I was asked if I knew how to wash dishes, and I said yes, so I was hired to wash laboratory equipment," Hurvitz related.

Hurvitz was married to Dalia, he was the father of Vered, Dafna, and Haim, and he had nine grandchildren. Dalia is the granddaughter of Chaim Salomon, who with his brother-in-law Moshe Levin founded a pharmacy in Jerusalem in 1901. They were later joined by Yitzhak Elstein to create Salomon, Levin, and Elstein Ltd. Chaim Salomon's father Yoel Moshe Salomon has a street named after him in downtown Jerusalem.

In 1935, Salomon, Levin, and Elstein founded Assia.

Hurvitz is also related to former President of the Supreme Court Mishael Cheshin. His wife, Dalia, is the sister of Mishael Cheshin's wife, Ruth. Ruth Cheshin is a director at Teva and president of the Jerusalem Foundation.

Eli Hurvitz's son, Chaim, named for the company founder, held top managerial posts at Teva until a year ago, most recently president Teva International Group, and is currently a company director. "Like every son, I would go with my father and grandfather to see the factories and work, so I had an emotional involvement," he told "Globes" in an interview in 2004. "Teva wasn’t a family firm like Strauss Group Ltd. (TASE:STRS). Management was also professional and objective, and there was no complicated nepotism as there was between Michael Strauss and his wife and their sons and daughters."

Hurvitz was awarded the Israel Prize in 2002, one of many awards won over his lifetime. They include Industrialist of the Year in Israel's Jubilee in 1998 and the Industrialist Prize in 1976. He also received an honorary doctorate from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in 1990, from the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1994, from Ben Gurion University of the Negev in 2002, and from Tel Aviv University in 2004.

Hurvitz's successor as Teva's chairman, Dr. Philip Frost, joined the company in 2005 as part of the acquisition of Ivax, which he had founded. The two men had a close friendship since they met in 1993, 12 years before the acquisition. They both realized the potential of the merger, but it took time. As Hurvitz said, "I didn’t have to woo my wife for so many years."

A few weeks ago, Hurvitz was named as one of Israel's ten best managers by "Globes" Leaders magazine. "As far as I am concerned, Hurvitz is a pillar of fire. He is really the Ben Gurion of Israeli industry," said Ran Nussbaum, Hurvitz's partner in the Pontifax fund, where Hurvitz was the chairman and main investor. "He was more important to Israel's economy than Warren Buffet is to the US economy, because we only have one Teva."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 22, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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