Even for someone like Robert A. Fox—a natural-born entrepreneur whose every instinct is informed by uncanny business acumen—there were growing pains. “I’m a very hands-on guy. It wasn’t easy for me to let go, especially in the areas that I considered myself an expert,” Mr. Fox says. “But, if you want to grow, that’s what you have to do; surround yourself with smart, capable people and allow them to do what they need to do.”
Nearly 40 years after he founded the Jenkintown-based RAF Industries, Inc., a private investment company that acquires and manages a diversified group of companies and venture capital investments, Mr. Fox remains its chairman and CEO. The extensive success that he’s generated at each stop of a career that spans seven decades has enabled Mr. Fox to initiate a host of impactful philanthropic endeavors across the Delaware Valley, most notably in education, where he’s earned a reputation as a leadership developer. In 1999, Mr. Fox and his wife, Penny, founded The Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater, which included the creation of three professorships. They endowed another professorship, too, this one to support cancer research at the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, for which Mr. Fox is a member of the board of trustees. In 2007, they established the annual Frederic Fox Lecture in Leadership series at Temple University’s Fox School of Business in honor of his father. The lectures aim to engage students and alumni in discussions that range from political in nature to religious. In part for his role in the series, as well as a host of other notable commitments to Temple University, including a $1 million donation toward the construction of Alter Hall, Mr. Fox was awarded the Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership in 2007 along with his brother, Richard (“Dick”) Fox, after whom the school was named in 1999. At the heart of it all, Mr. Fox says, is Penny, his wife of 66 years. They met as young children, and their relationship has been his cornerstone and catalyst through much of his storied life.
Title & Company
Founder, Chairman and CEO, RAF Industries, Inc.
Temple University Awards & Affiliatons
Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership, 2007
What he wanted to Be when he was 20 years old
A successful businessman. My dad had been very successful. I enjoyed the environment. And I felt very entrepreneurial myself. So, it was the coming together of a lot of fortunate circumstances.
Best piece of advice anyone ever gave me
“Never give up. Keep trying. Work hard. And if that doesn’t work, work harder.”