Brian Reh
| Sep 16, 2016

Back to school. I can’t believe that time of year is here again. And more unbelievable to me is the fact that my youngest child joins the kindergarten world this year. Wow. Yes, I was always told that “time flies” and “enjoy the kids while you can”. But believing for me comes best with experiencing. And last week I experienced putting my baby girl on the bus with her big brothers. Boy, how time flies.

A tradition I have with my kids is to spend at least one afternoon one-on-one with each of them in the summer. They get to pick the lunch venue and post-lunch activities. We do simple stuff (for examples…batting cages, mini golf, visit the library, work on the tree fort). Most importantly, we get uninterrupted 1:1 time to experience each other without the distractions of another sibling, electronic gadgets or household chores. This year’s half-days-with-Dada were particularly awesome. To share one memory, my daughter and I went to feed the ducks (top of her list!) on the Erie canal. When we were finished I asked her if she wanted to see where Gorbel came from since we happened to be only a short walk from our original location. She said “Sure!”…so off we went to 80 O’Connor Road.

I tell you what. To walk into that parking lot was absolutely surreal. The memories of my youth came zooming back to me. Mowing the grass there. Coming in on weekends with my Dad. Skateboarding in the parking lot. Playing hide and seek in the factory with my brothers (not a recommended practice nowadays, eh?). And to now be sitting in this parking lot with my 5 year old daughter who was to start kindergarten in 2 days just blew my mind. I was overwhelmed with joy to be a dad…and to have had such a great dad. I was reminded that life is all about making and cherishing memories; like the ones I was recalling in front of 80 O’Connor Road and like the ones my daughter and I were making that day.


I have no expectations for my kids to work at Gorbel in the future. I never thought I’d be here but the journey of life somehow made it happen. Ironically, my bias is that family businesses have a tendency to evolve into stagnant or declining safe havens where the later generations milk the profits and wreck the chances of sustained success. I’ve seen it happen so many times where complacency is the norm for privileged heirs. As the only members ever to be a part of our family business system, I’m grateful that my father and I are aligned that we never want to see this happen to Gorbel.

I’ve had the privilege to walk the turf of many multi-generational family businesses around the world in recent weeks. And it’s brought to me a fresh look at how special and unique a family business can be. To hear and see the pride that the younger generations have of their roots and how they aspire to take the businesses to the next level is uplifting. And when I couple that with the joy of making memories with my kids on our special Dada days, and then walk down memory lane at 80 O’Connor Road with my daughter recently, I can’t help but beam with respect for my own roots. Bottom line, they let me be me. I got lucky that somewhere along the line the table was set for me to choose my own path…and lacked expectations that I play out a script written by others.

Gorbel had a humble beginning in 1977 when my father and a handful of employees brought our first product (Jib Cranes) to the market. He dreamed of a small, simple business. Stable enough to take care of his family and create opportunities for employees to live good lives. Nothing more. Well, those roots have sprouted into an international organization that is carrying forth a Mission to “Improve People’s Lives”…both inside our walls and in the markets we serve. I’m grateful for these roots.

So as my kids head back to school, I’m finding it pretty awesome to reflect on the influencers in my life that make “Improving People’s Lives” so important to me. And I’m hopeful to have the strength and ability to stay out of my kids’ ways and let them pick their own, positive paths in life. I just hope the next 5 years go slower than the last 5!

How about you? Have you had the opportunity to reflect on your roots recently? If so, what did you learn from that reflection?


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  1. Bill Gucker | Oct 21, 2016
    That's a great post Brian. Thanks for letting me share in your reflection. Get's my gratitude juices flowing :-)
  2. George W Prest | Sep 28, 2016

    Hey Brian,

    As always your insight is beyond your years!

    Congratulations, unfortunately I  can tell you the next 5 will go even faster so make sure you continue to make that special time for your family. All the best.


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