Tony Khoury, an Arab American Businessman
By: Ivey Noojin/Arab America Contributing Writer
Tony Khoury is a Syrian American electrical engineer and artist, who has invented products and started businesses. He came to the United States from Syria for college and has created a name for himself in his new country. Even though Khoury is well established in the United States and has raised three children here, he still introduced himself as Syrian.
“I never ever forget where I came from,” Khoury said.
He loves both of his countries.
Life in Syria
Tony Khoury was born in Damascus, Syria. He attended a French Catholic school and fell in love with art. By the age of 10, he was already garnering some fame in the region. Through his pursue of art, he put education aside for a time. However, Khoury then became cognizant of his age and wanted to focus on something else besides art. He was fascinated by electronics, especially since most of the time he could fix the problems at home.
“With electronics, you have different opportunities because technology is all over,” Khoury said.
Technology became a mystery for him to solve. He saw people traveling to the moon and wanted to contribute to these kind of inventions when he got older. By the time he was considering moving to the United States, Khoury decided to dedicate himself to electronics and leave the chapter of famous artistry behind.
“I changed all of my lifestyle,” Khoury said.
Coming to the U.S.
Tony Khoury first came to New York in 1970. One year later, he began to study electrical engineering in Michigan. He soon got a PhD in the subject.
“To me, the United States was the best in the world to get an education,” Khoury said.
In 1973, while he was still in college, Khoury created a computer program. The university then wanted him to teach for them. He then became one of the youngest professors at the University of Michigan in Detroit for several years.
“I was young, wild, [with] hippie long hair,” Khoury said.
While studying, Tony Khoury still was not a citizen of the United States. He came to this country on a student visa, and after he invented a program three years later, he received a green card. However, he would finally become a citizen when Honeywell, a multinational company that provides engineering services, aerospace systems and consumer products, asked him to come to Massachusetts.
Even with all of this success, the transition from Syria to the United States was hard. He didn’t know much English, but his fluency in French helped him pick up the new language quicker. He also did not have his family with him at first. This made the culture shock even harder for Khoury. However, in the early 1980s, he was able to bring his mom and five younger sisters to the United States.
“An artist can see through things, see a vision,” Khoury said.
And he had a vision for thriving in his new country.
Tony Khoury’s Career
Tony Khoury worked for Honeywell for a couple of years and then became the engineering manager at Raytheon, a company that provides technology for defense, security and civil markets, in 1981. Ten years later, he transitioned to director of tests systems’ division at Temptronic, which produced thermal testing systems. Khoury stayed at this job until he decided to create his own company.
In 2005, he created Khoury Industries, which provides thermal testing equipment to several industries, including aerospace, military, medical and auto. To launch this new company, Khoury invented a product that now is called the Khoury Box, which is a portable thermal test fixture that simulates the temperature of the actual environment. Originally, missiles and space products used the device, but now it is available for homes and cars.
“If you look at my technology, you can see the art in it,” Khoury said.
Through his company, Khoury is able to combine his two loves: art and electronics.
Tony Khoury not only is a businessman and inventor; he also is an avid member of his community. When he first moved to the United States, his mother gave him $100 for a one-way ticket. Now Khoury wants to give back to the country and people who have helped him attain what he has today.
Khoury is on the board of directors at a hospital that helps treat cancer, which is one of his largest passions. He also supports families of veterans. Some soldiers even flew a flag for him in Afghanistan, thanking him for all of his help. Khoury continues to give lectures and keynote speeches, even though he no longer is a professor full time.
Khoury also is very involved within the Arab American community. He helps kids follows their dreams and is especially available for those who want to pursue engineering. He also uses his vast network of connections to give fellow Arabs jobs. Khoury wants to help people, especially immigrants, thrive in any new environment.
“Us, the Arabs, are a different breed,” Khoury said. “We fight with each other, but we also help one another.”
Check out Arab America’s blog here!