The Early Years

Jacques Sardas was born in 1930 in Alexandria, Egypt, the youngest of four children in a Sephardic Jewish family. Money was scarce: Jacques’s father sold fabrics from door to door, and business was unsteady. When Jacques was ten years old, the family moved to Cairo, where he attended l’École Cattaui and l’École Sybile. Afterward he held a variety of jobs, including accounting clerk at a department store, Maison Gattegno. An avid sportsman, Jacques played on the Maccabi team that won the Egyptian national basketball championship in 1956.

Jacques (in front, with the family dog) and his family in Cairo in the early 1940s.

The Second Exodus

In 1956, Jacques married Esther Pesso, known as Etty, whose parents had roots in Yugoslavia and Greece and whose maternal grandparents, aunts, and uncles had all been killed in the Holocaust. Following the wave of anti-Semitism that swept Egypt in the wake of the Suez Crisis—a period often referred to as the second Exodus from Egypt—most of Jacques’s family opted to immigrate to Israel. But he and Etty, who was pregnant with their first child, boarded a ship bound for São Paulo, Brazil. Three days after their arrival—with no knowledge of Portuguese or English and housed in a barely habitable refugee camp—Jacques got a job at a bank; three months later, he was hired at Goodyear, where he would remain for thirty-three years. In São Paulo, he rose from file clerk to sales manager; he was then transferred to Paris, where he rose from sales director to president of Goodyear France.

Jacques and Etty on their wedding day, in 1956.

The Move to America

In 1974, Jacques was transferred to Goodyear’s Akron, Ohio, headquarters, where he eventually became second in command of the entire corporation. During his tenure there he initiated and spearheaded the development of the Aquatred tire. After leaving Goodyear, in 1991, Jacques became CEO of Sudbury, Inc., a Cleveland-based holding company that had just filed for chapter 11 protection. In 1997, following a successful turnaround at Sudbury, he became the CEO and chairman of Dal-Tile, a Dallas-based manufacturer of ceramic tile. Subsequently he joined AEA Investors, from which he retired in 2008. He lives in Dallas and enjoys spending time with Etty and their four daughters and eight grandchildren.

Jacques with Goodyear executives in the company’s model room in Akron, Ohio, in the 1970s.