Getting to Know Gorbel: Pete Friedrich, VP of Sales & Customer Experience

Emma Percy
| Aug 30, 2021

photoLast week marked 30 years at Gorbel® for Pete Friedrich! As VP of Sales & Customer Experience, Pete is responsible for overseeing all of our “customer facing” departments – outside Sales, Customer Service, Application Engineering, and After the Sale Service. He is also responsible for managing international sales, and now with the acquisition of ELS, our sales and sales/service support for Warehouse Solutions (Destuff-IT).

Get to know Pete a little more from this Q&A! 

What other roles have you had since being with Gorbel®?

My first role was actually as a landscaper – my last two summers of college I worked for Bruce Stevenson, landscaping the Fishers campus, just after Gorbel® and the other Raytec Group companies (Han-Tek, Raytec, Prostall, Retrotech) moved from Fairport.  I loved working outside, building things, and making things look nice. I had zero idea what they did inside the buildings. Near the end of college, I called Dave Reh to see if I could use him as a reference for my big boy job search, and he said, “On one condition – I’d like you to interview with our GM (David Butwid) for a position.”  That position was our ErgoLab Coordinator – this was a new thing that Dave & Dave had come up with – an ergonomic equipment demonstration lab that featured all different kinds of ergonomic lifting equipment, including Gorbel® cranes and other lifting products.  I set the first one up with our sister company, Han-Tek, and then traveled around the country, working with other Gorbel® dealers to implement the same concept that we had here in Rochester.  My next role was as an outside Sales rep, and my territory was Wisconsin and Michigan.  Wisconsin turned out to be a gold mine for Gorbel® -- lots of untapped potential there.  I spent years covering Wisconsin and was able to work with and develop dealers like WiscoLift, Hassel, and (Carl Stahl) American Lifting, to sell our products to the likes of Mercury Marine, Harley Davidson, Osh Kosh Truck, Stoughton Trailers, Case tractors, and many others.  And in Michigan, I spent a lot of time in automotive plants.  One of my favorite things about selling Gorbel® to this day is going inside manufacturing plants and seeing how stuff is made – I just love it!  Next, I managed the Customer Service Group – several of our original CSRs are still here at Gorbel® -- Murray Hems, Judy Pascoe, Bill Mayer, and Tim Loughlin, to name a few.  A few years later, I became our first ever Sales Manager, and was responsible for managing our Sales and our outside sales channel (Reps and Dealers).

What’s your life like outside of the office?

I live in Victor and am happily married (29 years) to my wife Christine – we are high school sweethearts, from Fairport High School.  We have 3 grown children – Stefan (27), Sydney (25), and Sophie (23) -- all of them live here in Rochester, so I get to see them quite a bit.  Stefan actually just got married last weekend to my new daughter-in-law, Ali – they’re currently in Hawaii, on their honeymoon.  We also have two dogs (Charlee & Arthur), who are my buddies.  Outside of work I have lots of different hobbies – I like to fish, golf, play tennis, and I am a lifelong video gamer (Call of Duty is my main game).  I love to cook, and I have two gardens with all kinds of herbs, tomatoes, etc. to support my passion for cooking.

Who is your role model and why?

My dad – because as I was growing up, he was nice, and, he was positive.  Sure, there are a lot of bad things out there, and in life, but there are also a lot of wonderful things and great people in the world.  So, I try to be thankful for what I have, and to stay positive.  My dad helped me look at life as “glass half full” (vs half empty), and I think he has a lot to do with my “sunny and 70” disposition. 

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love to learn, experience new things, and to be challenged.  So, working for the Reh family all of these years, I’ve gotten to experience all of that, and on a regular basis.  In my time here we have built new factories in Alabama and Arizona, acquired Cleveland Tramrail®, brought the first servo-powered hoist/balancer (G-Force®) to market, started a venture in China, gotten into the Fall Protection business, added hoists to our product offering, and most recently, entered the world of warehousing/distribution, with the Destuff-IT product – these are the kinds of things that I love to be a part of.  Some people ask me how I could be in the same role (Director of Sales for 20+ years) for so long, and not be bored – but every year was different, because at Gorbel® we always seem to have something new brewing, and I’m typically right in the middle of it.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time here at Gorbel®?

I can’t say that I have one clear favorite memory.  My favorite memories mostly revolve around my travels and interactions with people – my co-workers and our customers.  I have traveled all over the world (Australia, Germany, China, Korea, etc.) and have fun and interesting stories in every country that I’ve been to. 

Do you have any important people in your life who have been a mentor to you? Who were they and why?

Dave and Dave, for sure (Dave Reh, Dave Butwid) – to this day, I can’t believe that Dave Reh entrusted top level sales for his company to a guy in his 20s.  What was he thinking??  He had faith and more confidence in me, than I had in myself, and he was always challenging me to do more.  And Dave Butwid was my main teacher along the way – he taught me so much about selective distribution, how to grow a sales channel, and much more.  Both Daves had a lot of trust in me – they gave me guidance and direction, but then turned me loose and let me do my thing.  The freedom that I had to do things the way that I wanted to really helped me to thrive.  That’s something that I always try to have in mind, as I work with others.

What an incredible 30 years, Pete! Here’s to many more.

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