Philosophy Alumni Spotlight George Abiaad

Recently, Philosophy alum and long-time friend of the department, George Abiaad, invited Chair Liu and Professor Calarco to visit Royal Corporation in Santa Fe Springs. Abiaad is President-Principal of Royal, one of the largest national servicers of the American theater industry, with a focus on paper supplies, sanitary chemicals, and food service disposables.

When Liu and Calarco arrived, they were greeted by Rob Mouw, Vice President of Business Development, and were given a tour of the impressive warehouse, work facilities, and conference room.

Liu and Calarco then sat down for a wide-ranging discussion with George, which ranged from business to politics to sports (Abiaad is a staunch Lakers supporter and Kobe fan because of his dedicated work ethic). We learned that, during college, George worked as a janitor; and by the age of 19 he started his own cleaning business, which eventually grew into Royal Corporation. In addition to Royal’s nationwide presence, George also spoke about Royal’s recent presence in the Middle East.

George Abiaad, Principal-President of Royal Corporation

The conversation eventually turned to George's education. In college, he initially majored in Math and Civil Engineering, and took classes in philosophy as a side interest. At one point, he decided to take a cross-listed course in Symbolic Logic. George recalled that his professor "brought the subject to life" for him. He became "captivated by the field and took every class" he could take. As he stacked up philosophy units, he decided to become a major and have it become the focus of his degree. As George learned more about philosophy, he "quickly realized" it was more than just one discipline among others. He came to see philosophy as a "foundational tool for thinking." Not only was philosophy helpful for understanding cultural differences but it was also key to helping him learn the art of logical persuasion.

Philosophy expanded my range of understanding the reasoning behind cultural differences and equipped me with the tools for deciphering and breaking down complex issues. More importantly, it enhanced my abilities in the art of persuasion and taught me to think in a logical, sequential manner.

Finally, we asked George what he thinks of his major and the discipline of Philosophy today. Would he still recommend that students major in the field?

I absolutely recommend the program even more now, as most majors today do not provide students with the effective tools of analytical thought and are limited to information exchange rather than the art of thinking.

George's commitment to Philosophy was evident in numerous aspects of the structure and functioning of Royal Corporation, from the mission statement to his commitment to the well-being of his employees to the Kant-inspired motto that forms the core principle of his business approach.

[At Royal Corporation] Our core principle is respecting the dignity of dealing with every person as an end and not as a means.

Liu and Calarco then had a chance to meet George's wife Marianne (Executive Vice President at Royal) as well as his personal assistant Marlen (who, as it turns out, had taken a class with Liu while a student at CSUF), and continue the discussion over lunch. In reflecting on her visit to see George and Royal Corporation, Chair Liu noted: "George is a most impressive person. He is a great advocate for philosophy—I dare say much better than I am—because of his real life experience, his art of persuasion, and his ability to read people."

The Abiaads have cultivated a sparkling reputation with both vendors and customers alike through transparency, honesty, and a spirit partnership. While Royal has grown exponentially over the years, the Abiaads have remained accessible and personally supportive of employees and their families.

Thanks, George, for having us out to visit the company you have built and seeing how you put philosophy to work!

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