When I founded Scholtz & Company in 1994, I named the firm after the original family business which played a major role in bringing the Scholtz family to America in the early 1900s from Venezuela. The common thread between the two businesses is finance – something that has provided a livelihood for many of the Scholtz family. From the bits and pieces gathered from my grandfather, father, and uncle, I’ve tried to retell the story of the Scholtz & Company name below.
Scholtz & Marturet was formed around 1905, as a partnership in Venezuela. The original partners were Mr. Marturet, Jose Henrique Scholtz, and Carlos Arturo Scholtz. Shortly after the partnership’s formation, Mr. Marturet died, and the firm changed its name to Scholtz & Company. Originally, the partnership transacted in a variety of imports and exports to New York, but after a while, the firm chose to focus in on cocoa and coffee. Jose Henrique knew the coffee business well as his father, Jose Henrique Sr., was a coffee roaster in Caracas, Venezuela. A few years later as the business grew, the family moved to Brooklyn, and Scholtz & Company became a coffee and cocoa importer based in New York at 82 Wall Street. The business continued to grow and became a major dealer in the two commodities which eventually led to Carlos Scholtz becoming chairman of the Cocoa Exchange in 1916. During this time, the Scholtz family took roots in Brooklyn. Jose Henrique’s son, Joseph Henry (“Henry”), grew up in Brooklyn and after graduating from MIT, he became a civil engineer for a few years. He then joined the firm and worked there until the late 1970’s.
Unfortunately, the depression was hard on the partnership as it was for many businesses. There is an old family story that claims that at one time the employee payroll was made by selling family flatware and using some cash that an aunt had saved in a cookie jar. Yet, through the difficult years, the firm persevered. Carlos died in the early 1930’s, and when Jose Henrique retired in the mid 1940’s, Tito Abbo and his brother Henrique Abbo bought Jose Henrique’s share of the partnership. The business had shifted to the next generation. Early on, disagreements over the business arose between Henrique Abbo and Henry Scholtz which caused Tito to buy out his brother’s interest and bring in his other brother, Luis, as a silent partner. At this point, the Abbo and Scholtz families became close business associates for many decades. Tito Abbo formed a Colombian coffee processing and exporting company, Abbo, Jarimillo & Cia, in the early 1950’s. They worked closely with Scholtz & Company in New York, facilitating orders to the large U.S. roasters. In January of 1953, right out of the army, Henry’s son, Andy, went to Colombia to help organize Tito’s company and learn the business. He returned in June of 1954 to work at Scholtz & Company. Andy became a partner in 1957, making the total four: Henry, Andy, Tito and Luis Abbo. In 1972, the partnership moved to 110 Wall Street to accommodate their larger size.
I visited Scholtz & Company at 110 Wall Street while I was still in college in 1973. I imagine it looked much like it did in the early years. Only a little English was spoken among the back office clerks. The kitchen had a large roaster machine with little burlap sacks of sample coffees on top of the cabinets around the room. In the center was a small table with a large brass spittoon next to it for the taste tester. On my trip, I also enjoyed a tour of the Coffee and Sugar Exchange as well as a visit to the Cocoa Exchange. The Cocoa Exchange was very simple. It consisted of a large board room table in an oak paneled room with a handful of traders waiting for orders. The trip was very memorable for an impressionable young college student in awe of the “family business.” Several years later, in 1980, my uncle Andy guided the partnership’s sale to Cargill, the large privately held commodity firm. He retired from Cargill five years later. When I started my own firm in 1994, there was only one name that I wanted to use – Scholtz & Company. However, this firm would be focused on investing for high net worth individuals, something I had been doing for years at Smith Barney. Well capitalized, the new Scholtz & Company even had Henry and his son Andy as partners. We started with seventeen million in assets under management which has grown to over one hundred and thirty million today. Although a different family business, it is a business we hope thrives and continues to grow. -Peter Scholtz, President of Scholtz & Company, LLC