Home Page   |   Nos. 1 to 5   |   Nos. 6 to 10   |   Nos. 16 to 20   |   Nos. 21 to 25   | Runners-up

The 25 Richest People in New Mexico


   11. Unser family

   12. Blaugrund family

   13. William R. Anixter

   14. Theresa McBride

   15. Jury family

From CROSSWINDS, New Mexico’s largest alternative newspaper

October 1996

11. UNSER FAMILY, Albuquerque

Auto racing, resorts, investments

$50 million


     New Mexico doesn't produce too many NFL quarterbacks or music rock stars. But the state can certainly lay claim to legendary auto racers -- thanks to the world-famous Unser dynasty.

     The family is one of the most notable in the entire history of auto racing: Al (Big Al) Sr., 56; his brother, Bobby Sr., 61; and Al Sr.'s son, Al (Little Al) Jr., 34, have won the Indianapolis 500 a combined nine times. With the winnings and notoriety the racing spotlight has brought them, the Unsers have covered the cost of living -- and then some.

     It wasn't always that way. Unser racing actually began in Colorado Springs, when Jerry Unser Sr., father of Big Al and Bobby, opened a garage there. In 1936, Jerry moved the business to Albuquerque, where booming Route 66 was making the city an economic hub. "We were poor people," Bobby explains matter-of-factly. But that ended when Jerry's sons took to the track. They proved to be brilliant racers, although one, Jerry Jr., was killed in a 1959 practice run at Indy. Then Little Al, who blossomed as a driver after the sport became much more lucrative, gave the family name some disposable wealth. Although now mired in divorce proceedings, Little Al is said to make more than $3 million yearly when he does well on the race track.

     Al Sr. and Bobby Sr., meanwhile, left racing to tend to their money. Assets include the Oso Lodge hunting compound near Chama, where well-heeled hunters pay big bucks to bag elk, Albuquerque-area land, extensive endorsements and an extensive investment portfolio.

     Says Bobby Sr., "We make a considerable amount of money, mainly from out of state investments. But I really don't know what we're worth."


12. BLAUGRUND FAMILY, Albuquerque

American Home Furnishings

$45 million


     When it comes to furniture retailing in New Mexico, one company really stands out -- American Home Furnishings, successfully owned and operated for six decades by the Blaugrund family. The company had estimated 1995 revenues of $92 million, spread among eight stores, including the flagship on a seven-acre parcel at Carlisle and Menaul boulevards in Northeast Albuquerque. American Home Furnishings was the country's 45th largest furniture retailer, according to industry chronicler Furniture Today. That's a lot of beds, sofas and chairs.

     The business's founder is E. Mannie Blaugrund, a Czechoslovakian farmer's son who emigrated in 1921 -- at age 13 -- to El Paso, where an older brother operated a furniture store. Mannie learned the business. A regular customer was Albuquerque physician William R. Lovelace (name sound familiar?). Perhaps wearying of the drive in those pre-Interstate 25 days, Lovelace suggested that Mannie establish a store in Albuquerque.

     So in 1936 -- at the height of the Depression, no less -- Mannie opened his first New Mexico outlet, six employees crammed in a 25-foot-wide storefront that Lovelace owned on Central Avenue near the Albuquerque train station. The formula was simple -- good selection, terrific service and a very liberal exchange and return policy. Business took off.

     In 1984 Mannie retired and handed over the reins to his children, Lee Blaugrund-- now the company president --Cliff Blaugrund and Linda Alongi. Now age 89, Mannie is ailing from a stroke he suffered several years ago.

     Over the years the Blaugrunds earned a reputation as charitable donors and patron of the arts. For example, the family once gave a washing machine to a school so students from poor families could wear clean clothes.

     A spokesperson for Lee Braugrund told us, ``We have no comment.''


13. WILLIAM R. ANIXTER, Albuquerque

Sale of family-controlled business, Stephens restaurant

$42 million


     In December 1986, Anixter Brothers Inc., a cable and wire supplier near Chicago with an terrific reputation for service and attention to customers, sold itself to a corporate raider for $510 million, or $14 a share. One of those brothers--a co-founder drawing a $435,000 salary plus another $tk in dividends--was vice chairman William R. Anixter.

     According to the company's last proxy statement before the sale, he held 1,601,028 shares--4.4% of the company. The math works out to $22.4 million. And that was at a time when the capital gains tax was far lower than today and the stock market in which a good chunk of the proceeds were presumably invested was only one-third its present level.

     Bill Anixter ``retired'' to Albuquerque, where he had some family ties and had visited for years--complaining, say acquaintances, about the lack of a decent restaurant. So he created one: Stephens, An American Cafe, at Tijeras St. and Central Avenue N.W. near Old Town. In 1988, applying that old Anixter Brothers formula of quality product and superior customer satisfaction, he opened the establishment, which now routinely ranks among the finest nationally. After years of losses, it is said to be profitable.

     Anixter, 72, keeps busy with other endeavors as well. He owns Chama Resources Inc., a property management firm in Albuquerque. And with a $500,000 stake, he sits on the board of Anicom Inc., a Chicago-area company founded in 1993 by Anixter family members and former employees to reenter the wire and cable distribution business.

     We tried to get in touch with Anixter, but his office reported that he was traveling in Europe -- for a month.


14.THERESA MCBRIDE, Albuquerque

CEO McBride & Associates (computer systems)

$40 million


     It started with food. During the uranium-fueled boom in Grants, NM, after World War II, a popular restaurant was the Roarin' Twenties, run by Eddie McBride. Daughter Theresa, who worked there during her childhood, later took over its operations. One day in the early 1980s she installed a computer to help with the payroll and was hooked. She saw the potential in helping others cope with these new-fangled machines.

     At age 23, a divorced parent with no college degree, she started McBride Micro Source in her home in 1985 with $5,000 capital and one employee -- herself. She quickly found a niche installing and maintaining computers that run scientific and engineering programs. Along the way she employed some lessons learned in small-town business, like the value of repeat customers. Within four years she was being honored nationally as a top small-business owner.

     Operating in an intensely competitive industry, the renamed McBride & Associates now books annual revenues topping $100 million, most of it out of state. She does business with an awful lot of chi-chi customers like Los Alamos National Laboratory. With growth like this, she's clearly pretty busy. We couldn't get her on the phone despite repeated efforts.


15. JURY FAMILY, Albuquerque

Summit Electric Supply Co.

$38 million


     Father-and-son team Victor Jury Sr. and Victor Jury Jr. are said to own about two-thirds of Summit Electric Supply Co., the state's largest vendor of electrical doo-dads for construction projects. Summit Electric is a relative rarity here, a New Mexico-based business with significant out-of-state revenues, mostly in the Southwest and West. However, that's not to say that the local market isn't important. Summit's clients include Intel, the University of New Mexico and the Albuquerque International Airport, to which the company sold all of the lighting equipment.

     Summit Electric opened in Albuquerque in 1977 with five employees and a few thousand feet of rental space. Proprietors: Vic Sr., who had recently retired from a national electric distribution company, Vic Jr. and Dave Meredith, an old business associate. Since then, the company has been in an almost constant state of expansion.

     A key to Summit's success has been customer service and the ability to meet special stocking needs of clients. The company has developed an expertise in delivering different sizes and colors of parts to a client in a specific sequence for assembly line construction.

     All this generates about $80 million a year in revenues and a reported annual growth rate of about 40 percent. Victor Jury Jr., who has run the company since his father's retirement, left this message for us: ``I think your estimates are very flattering on the high side to a very large extent. I serious doubt our family would merit an inclusion on your list.''