Gorbel was founded in 1977 by Dave Reh. Dave was a Clarkson grad with over a decade of experience selling material handling equipment. He was frustrated and underwhelmed by many of his vendors, so he set out to start his own company, with better service and faster delivery, a business that could serve markets beyond the Rochester area and provide opportunities for other people to succeed. And with that, the Gorbel story began.
“My vision was to build a company with 10-15 employees, with a specialty product valued by customers. This would enable me and employees to function in a respected, low stress business environment. I love building physical, organizational, and personal things. I’m proud of building Gorbel, which has provided so much opportunity for personal growth for myself and all its employees.”
- Dave Reh
Gorbel quickly built a reputation for quality products and excellent customer service. In 1986, we expanded our product line to include enclosed track Work Station Cranes, first importing and private labeling them from European manufacturers, and eventually making them here in the U.S.
We soon outgrew our location in Fairport. In 1990, we moved into the building where you’re currently standing. When we first moved into this building, we shared the 16,000 square feet of office space and 48,000 square feet of factory space with two other companies.
By 1996, we were manufacturing both manual and motorized jib cranes, enclosed track work station cranes, gantry cranes, and work station jib cranes in our NY plant. Our business had grown to a point that we needed a better solution for serving customers in other parts of the country. This led to us building an additional manufacturing facility in Pell City, AL.
Innovation has always been a key component to Gorbel’s success, and this period marked major innovations both in our product lines and in how we do business:
Our public website, www.gorbel.com, went live in 1997. The site now sees more than 135,000 users a year from over 175 countries.
In 1998, we built a new building to the west of this main building to house our growing Research and Development department and their testing needs.
Brian Reh began his official career here as Manufacturing Operations Specialist in 1998, but he was a familiar face around here long before that. Brian is a product of the Victor Central Schools, and even in his school days, he was working at Gorbel, doing everything from landscaping to sweeping floors to making manuals. He would later become Business Development Manager in 2001, then President in 2003, and then President and CEO in 2010.
In 1999, we launched our G-Force® Intelligent Lifting Device. Operators were able to lift loads up to 165 lbs with only 3 lbs of force. Through the years, we continued to enhance the product, and the G-Force® is now available in capacities up to 1320 lbs!
In 2002, we purchased the Cleveland Tramrail® product line from a company in nearby Montour Falls, and transferred manufacturing to a third new building here on Fishers Run.
Cleveland Tramrail® had a long legacy and was a very recognized name in the industry. We could now offer material handling solutions in capacities to 40 ton. Also, putting Cleveland Tramrail® into our CraneBrain® system made life much easier for the well-established sales channel who were used to doing complicated calculations to pick the right crane for their customers.
By 2005 Gorbel opened a sales office in Troy, MI, focused on meeting the needs of the many automotive-centered customers in that area.
We expanded our global reach in 2006 with the opening of our Gorbel Tianjin plant outside Beijing, China. This allowed us to better serve U.S. customers who had expanded their manufacturing into China.
This was our fastest growth period ever, and in 2007, our workforce hit 200 people.
By 2011 Gorbel added ShopCrane to our product line.
Every year, the Rochester Business Alliance publishes their Rochester Top 100 list of the fastest growing privately held companies in the Rochester area. Gorbel has made that list 18 times since the list began in 1986, and in 2012, we made it to #3.
In 2015 Gorbel took a bold step into the medical arena. We launched the SafeGait 360 Balance and Mobility Trainer, which takes our G-Force® Intelligent Lifting Technology and uses it to help patients who are recovering from stroke, spinal cord injuries, amputations, or traumatic brain injuries to learn to walk again in a way that decreases the risk of injury to both the patients and their therapists.
With business booming, multiple new products added to our product families, and our number of new hires consistently growing, we were running out of room here in Fishers Run. We were bursting at the seams in all three buildings, so we took over Building 610. The new facility gave us more office space, allowed us to move all G-Force® and Easy Arm® manufacturing into one building, and includes a mezzanine large enough to hold the entire NY work force for all-in meetings and company celebrations.
Business continued to grow through 2017 and 2018. In 2017, we celebrated our 40th year in business with a huge party at our Fishers headquarters for employees, families, and friends. For many, it was the first time seeing our newly updated campus. For others, it was a chance to try out our new Rehab line of products and really understand how the technology we mastered in the industrial world was working to help people in the rehabilitation world regain their mobility faster and with more confidence.
2018 was a bittersweet year for Gorbel®. We opened up our third North American manufacturing plant in July, this one in Goodyear, Arizona. The plant allows us to better serve our dealers and customers on the West Coast. Sadly, in August of 2018, we lost Dave Reh, our founder and Chairman. Although Dave wasn’t as involved in the day to day happenings at Gorbel® as he had been in earlier years, he was still a beloved part of Gorbel® and dearly missed. Before he passed, however, he got to see the company he built become an international powerhouse with over 400 employees, serving not only the industrial world, but also the medical rehabilitation world.