Tom Gores 101: Shaping Detroit's Future
Zatrun Published at June 12, 2024

Tom Gores, a prominent American billionaire businessman, has not only left an indelible mark on the corporate world but has also played a pivotal role in shaping the destiny of Detroit. As of March 2022, his net worth was estimated at a staggering US$6.0 billion. This is the story of a man whose journey from humble beginnings to founding Platinum Equity, a private equity firm, and acquiring the Detroit Pistons, has been nothing short of extraordinary. In this article, we’ll explore Tom Gores’ early life, his career achievements, his impact on Detroit, and his philanthropic endeavors, all of which has meticulously examined.

Tom Gores: Early Life, Education and Career

Tom Gores, originally born as Tewfiq Georgious in Nazareth, Israel, on July 31, 1964, had a modest upbringing as the fifth of six children in a close-knit family of diverse heritage. His father had Greek roots, while his mother hailed from Lebanon.

At the age of five, Gores and his family left Nazareth and relocated to Genesee, Michigan, just a stone’s throw from Flint. His journey to success began with a simple job stocking shelves at his uncle’s grocery store in Genesee. Gores was not only academically inclined but also actively participated in sports during his high school years at Genesee High School. He excelled as a defensive back in football, a middle infielder in baseball, and a guard in basketball.

After high school, Gores pursued his dream of higher education by attending Michigan State University. To make ends meet, he took on various jobs, working as a janitor and a telemarketer. In 1986, he proudly graduated with a bachelor’s degree in construction management.

Tom Gores’ career journey is a testament to his entrepreneurial spirit and ability to transform businesses. After a brief stint at Continental Telephone following college, he co-founded a lumber-logistics software firm named Ventech.

In 1989, he embarked on a life-changing journey, driving from Michigan to Los Angeles in a used Cadillac to oversee the firm’s West Coast operations. In 1995, Gores laid the foundation for Platinum Equity, establishing it in his own home in Sherman Oaks. He began his entrepreneurial venture by cold-calling businesses to explore potential acquisitions.

One of his initial projects was the turnaround of Litigation Services, Inc. (LSI), a struggling company specializing in computer-generated accident recreations for courtroom use. Gores acquired LSI for $200,000, restructured the company, and managed to restore it to profitability within just six months.

Over the years, between 1996 and 2001, he successfully led 32 acquisitions, including notable companies like Pilot Software, Racal, and Williams Communications. By the end of this period, Platinum Equity’s portfolio included units from major corporations such as Motorola, Fujitsu, and Alcatel.

Gores’ remarkable success led to his inclusion in the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans in 2002. In 2006, he orchestrated a lucrative deal, acquiring PNA Steel and later selling it to Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. in 2008, generating a substantial net profit of $512 million. His involvement in the media industry also made headlines as he purchased The San Diego Union-Tribune in May 2009 for an estimated $30 million, later selling it for $110 million in 2011. By 2009, Gores had facilitated over 100 deals through Platinum Equity.

Acquisition of the Detroit Pistons

Tom Gores’ connection with the Detroit Pistons began as early as 2009 when he expressed interest in acquiring the NBA franchise following the passing of the longtime owner, Bill Davidson. Although other contenders initially emerged, Gores’ determination eventually secured him an exclusive negotiating period in January 2011.

This exclusivity led to the historic purchase of Palace Sports and Entertainment (PS&E), the parent company of the Detroit Pistons, and their arena, The Palace of Auburn Hills, on June 1, 2011. The acquisition was a landmark moment in the franchise’s 70-year history and was valued at $325 million, described as a “shocking bargain” by Crain’s Detroit Business.

Gores wasted no time in investing in the team, approving $10 million worth of renovations for the Palace of Auburn Hills. He also introduced community-oriented programs like “Seats for Soldiers” and “Come Together.”

In September 2015, Gores acquired Platinum Equity’s stake in the Pistons, becoming the sole owner of the franchise. This marked a significant milestone in his journey and highlighted his enduring commitment to the team.

MLS Expansion and Further Business Ventures

Outside the realm of basketball, Tom Gores continued to expand his horizons. In April 2016, he, along with Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, unveiled their ambitious plan to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Detroit.

This initiative symbolizes Gores’ determination to enhance Detroit’s sporting landscape. Additionally, Gores successfully negotiated an agreement with the Ilitches, who own the Detroit Red Wings and Tigers, allowing the Pistons to share the new Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit with the Red Wings. This move marked the Pistons’ return to the city of Detroit after nearly four decades.

Gores and the Ilitches ventured further, forming “313 Presents,” a joint business venture that schedules and manages shows, production, marketing, and media for six Detroit-area venues. As of February 2018, the Detroit Pistons were valued at a remarkable $1.1 billion, representing a substantial gain of $775 million since Gores’ initial purchase in 2011.


Beyond his significant business ventures, Tom Gores is equally committed to philanthropy and community development. In 2016, he launched FlintNOW, an organization aimed at raising up to $10 million to provide relief to the residents of Flint, Michigan, affected by the city’s water crisis.

His philanthropic efforts extend to supporting children in Detroit and Flint through the Toys for Tots program, among other initiatives. Gores’ contributions have had a meaningful impact on organizations like the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and S.A.Y Detroit. Notably, after the Pistons’ 2018–2019 season, he fulfilled his pledge to donate $5,000 for every Pistons win during the regular season and a $50,000 bonus for making the Playoffs, resulting in a generous donation of $255,000 to S.A.Y Detroit.

In addition to local initiatives, Gores supports several philanthropic and charitable organizations, serving on the board of trustees of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the board of directors at St. Joseph’s Hospital and the UCLA Medical Center.

One of the noteworthy contributions by Gores and his family was the establishment of the Gores Family Allergy Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, with a donation of $5 million, focusing on comprehensive care and research in allergy studies.

In 2022, Gores pledged a remarkable $20 million to construct a community center in Detroit’s River Rouge Park, as part of the Gores Family Foundation’s initiatives. This 25,000-square-foot multi-use facility will serve as a hub for diverse programming in the area and is a testament to Gores’ unwavering commitment to the community.

Personal Life

In his personal life, Tom Gores resides in Beverly Hills, California, with his wife Holly and their three children. Additionally, he owns a condominium in Birmingham, Michigan. Tom Gores is known for his significant philanthropic efforts. In 2016, he launched FlintNOW, an organization dedicated to raising up to $10 million to provide assistance to residents of Flint, Michigan, who were affected by the city’s water crisis. He has also been actively involved in donating toys to children in Detroit and Flint through the Toys for Tots program since 2009.

Gores is a strong supporter of various charitable organizations in the Detroit area. He has provided substantial support to the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and S.A.Y Detroit, among others. One of his remarkable philanthropic gestures was a donation of $255,000 to S.A.Y Detroit at the conclusion of the Pistons’ 2018–2019 season. This donation resulted from a pledge Gores made during the annual radiothon, where he committed to donating $5,000 for every Pistons win during the regular season and a $50,000 bonus for making the Playoffs.

In addition to his charitable endeavors, Tom Gores has been actively involved in supporting medical and healthcare institutions. He served on the board of trustees of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) until October 2020 and was also a member of the board of directors at both St. Joseph’s Hospital and the UCLA Medical Center.

The Gores family has played a crucial role in supporting Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, with a particular focus on the Division of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. Their substantial $5 million donation in 2016 established the Gores Family Allergy Center, which contributes to comprehensive care and research in allergy studies.

Tom Gores continues to be a philanthropic figure with a strong commitment to giving back to his community. In 2022, he pledged $20 million to construct a community center in Detroit’s River Rouge Park. This significant donation was one of the first initiatives of the Gores Family Foundation.

The community center, spanning 25,000 square feet, serves as a multi-use facility that hosts a diverse range of programs and activities for the local area. Collaborating with Detroit’s Parks and Recreation Department, this project reflects Gores’ dedication to enhancing the well-being and opportunities of his community.

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