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The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection
y personality is
not quiet," says
grably, whose pleas-
ant demeanor and easy smile
would seem to indicate other-
wise. But when he isn't gestur-
ing he is fidgeting with a pen or
a cup on his bare desk, so that
some part of him is always in
This restlessness helped Mr.
Elgrably launch an impressive
business career on the debris of
a meteoric, but brief, political ca-
reer in the 1970s, and to endure
through hard work the loss of his
son Udi in Lebanon two years
In just over a decade,
Mordechai Elgrably and his wife
Georgette have gone from own-
ing a small pharmaceutical dis-
tribution warehouse in
Jerusalem to directing a phar-
maceutical concern doing an av-
erage of $35 million in sales per
year with annual profits reach-
ing an average $1 million in re-
cent years. By 1998, the
company hopes to reach $50 mil-
lion in sales.
"We have grown tenfold in the
past 10 years, and we built it
starting from nothing," says Mr.
Elgrably, sitting in his office
which is the size of the original
Mr. Elgrably credits his wife
with being the driving force be-
hind the company's success.
Mordechai Elgrably, who
came to Israel from Morocco in
1964 with his parents and nine
siblings, began his career work-
ing with the Ministry of Educa-
tion, where he was responsible
for programs designed to bridge
the educational gap between dif-
ferent sectors of the population.
At the age of 32 he joined up
with Yigael Yadin to create the
centrist Dash Party, and in 1977
he became a member of Knesset.
For four years he continued to
push for educational opportuni-
ties for the weaker sectors and
for programs for youth, his two
biggest loves. "I really enjoyed
my time there," says Mr. El-
grably, 52, of his stint in the
Knesset, "not so much from the
political standpoint but from the
real work that was done there."
But, after four years of non-
conformity, Mr. Elgrably knew
he would be unable to return to
work for any sort of political in-
stitution. Dash broke up in 1982.
The pharmaceutical tie-in was
provided by Georgette, who
worked as a pharmacist in Ash-
dod. When Mr. Elgrably left pol-
itics, they decided to open a
small pharmaceutical distribu-
tion warehouse in Jerusalem.
In 1989, they registered Ophir
Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic
Marketing Company, Ltd.,
named after their youngest son,
as a privAe company.
One year later, they began
distributing supplies in Tel Aviv
and in Haifa; a year after that
they bought out their main com-
petitor, Shallpharm; a year af-
ter that the elderly owners of a
pharmaceutical factory in Holon
were looking for buyers and
found the Elgrablys. That same