Business Matters: The Foursome Clothing Store Owner Honored
At The Foursome in Plymouth, the focus isn’t just on fine clothing, suits and footwear. It’s also on family.
“I’m blessed to have four of my children working in the business,” said Gordy Engel, owner of The Foursome. “It’s great to see that they’re carrying on that tradition.”
“I Love Getting to Work with Family”
This family story started in 1955 when Ron Engel and his wife, Lucille, took over a clothing store in Wayzata. That store was passed down a generation to Gordy Engel.
“My dad was an amazing entrepreneur in the clothing business,” said Engel. “He built our business.”
Engel added, “He was an example for me of what it meant to care about his business, to care about people. And so it was a natural thing for me to be able to do it.”
It turns out Gordy Engel was an example too. Like a matching tie and dress shirt, four of his children and a daughter-in-law followed suit.
“I love getting to work with family,” said Michael Engel, Gordy’s son. “I say 99 percent of it is wonderful.”
Just as his dad was for him, Gordy Engel is a role model for his kids.
“I like working with my dad. We work well together,” said Michael Engel. “As in anything, we look at some things slightly different sometimes. But at the end of the day, we’ve got a great relationship.”
Enduring a Relocation
Like many small businesses, The Foursome has to endure its share of challenging times. In 2008, at a time the country faced a financial crisis, The Foursome found itself without a home. Their former location at the former Wayzata Bay Center had to close. It made way for what would become Wayzata’s largest ever redevelopment project.
The Engel family had to decide whether to continue the business.
“We prayed and God answered the prayer,” recalled Gordy Engel. “He said to me Vicksburg and 55 some place.”
That faith led to a new home. The family’s new Plymouth store opened in 2009.
“This is an amazing location,” said Engel. “When we first moved, we were trying to protect our customer base, and not move too far away. When we got here we found out probably 70 percent of our customers would say, ‘you know, we would hate to see you leave Wayzata, but you’re actually closer to where we live.'”
A Heartbreaking Tragedy
In 2016, life tested the family again. Gordy’s daughter, Kathryne, and her husband, Jamison, were training to become Christian missionaries when a semi slammed into the back of their minivan in western Nebraska. The couple and their three young children were killed.
“They were going out to Colorado for training and that’s when the accident happened,” said Gordy Engel.
For such a heartbreaking tragedy that would drag any family down, this one built a family up. The family started the Kathyrne and Jamison Pals Family Foundation. It helped fund 11 different missionary families to Japan, just like Kathryne and Jamison were going to be.
“It’s amazing,” said Gordy Engel. “The love of our community and the love of the people that are part of our network has just been overwhelming in how caring people are.”
A Lifetime Achievement Award
Fast forward to last month, the unexpected arrived. This time it was much-needed good news for the Engel family. The Minnesota Retailers Association presented Gordy Engel with a lifetime achievement award for his 49 years in business.
“I was just the ‘point guy,'” said Engel about the honor.
While Engel credited the 20 employees he has working with him. His children believe the praise is well-earned.
“It’s a huge gift to us kids to get to come in and keep that legacy that he established and my grandpa established,” said Michael Engel. “And for him to get recognized for the work he’s done in this business for so many years is just awesome.”
Gordy Engel also credits his wife, Nancy, who helps take care of the grandkids while their children work at the store. Another gift is on the way too. The family is expecting their 16th grandchild by the end of the year.
So What Makes a Good Suit?
So what makes a good suit? Both Gordy and Michael Engel say it starts with fit.
“A good suit is a good fit,” said Gordy Engel. “And it starts with good fabrics and starts with a good fit.”
“A great suit first of all has to be great quality. It starts with the materials it’s made out of,” said Michael Engel. “So the wools it’s made from have to be great. The manufacturing on it. The handwork on it. Probably the most important thing is great tailoring. So in order for it to fit you well, you have to have great tailors.”