FRESNO, Calif. – Businesses come and businesses go. Montgomery Ward is a business Al Deniz remembers well.
He opened one in Fresno in 1971.
“I hired everybody and I was first man on board,” he smiled. “I opened the store so I was on the operating end. I had to control expenses and all that. And basically that was my job…I always wanted to get into the merchandising end because I loved merchandising.”
Al Deniz was born and raised in northern California. He transferred to Fresno after working at a Montgomery Ward in Eureka.
“At the time I took over, Montgomery Ward’s appliance department was 13th in the nation. And the two years I had it I took it up to No. 2,” he said. “So as far as being oriented in sales, I’m pretty good at it!”
So it was no surprise he also turned out to be good at fundraising for Fresno State.
“As years went on, I kept getting more and more involved,” said Deniz. “I loved doing that type of thing, promoting and selling. I love sports. And I like to back the program and I like other people to back the program.”
Al Deniz certainly led by example. In 2005, he was recognized nationally for being the most successful volunteer fundraiser in the country.
He was known as “Mr. Bulldog.”
“I was really involved in sports in the past, and, of course, I’ve always like sports ’cause that’s all I’ve done all my life,” he said.”