When Gordon Flesch left his position as a salesman for Royal Typewriters and took the helm of a $3 million dealership that would bear his name, little did he know it was the foundation of a company that would grow to $151 million, making it among the 10 biggest in the nation.
Sixty-three years later, those initial seeds planted by Gordy Flesch continue to bloom and flourish under the guidance of his grandson, Patrick. The recently-minted company president may have been born into fortuitous circumstances, but the position carries a burden of expectation to continue transforming the business as technology evolves. After all, Gordy Flesch was peddling Thermofax copiers back in the day.
The executive post wasn’t exactly an heirloom position. Tom Flesch, company CEO and Patrick’s father, challenged all of the Flesch children to get a degree and work for a different company before they would be given consideration to join Gordon Flesch Company (GFC). After graduating from Miami University, Flesch spent more than three years as an account manager for CDW and quickly fell in love with working in technology.
When a sales territory in the Chicago suburbs became available at GFC, Flesch pounced on the opportunity to join the family business. He gradually moved through the sales ranks to become vice president of sales in the western region. Last November, 12 ½ years after joining the company, he was named president.
“I try to build on the legacy and tradition that’s been built at GFC,” said Flesch, a 2019 ENX Magazine Difference Maker. “As an executive, we work hard and try to make good, sound decisions that keep the company moving forward. I think we have created a culture that sets up our sales team to win as much as possible, and as an organization, we do our best to support our customers and deliver on the commitments that we make to our clients.”
A family dynasty cannot get traction without a solid core of employees who are fully invested in the culture and values of the company, and GFC is no exception. Flesch is constantly heartened by the dedication and talent level of GFC’s team members, and perpetuating a family atmosphere makes their experience fun and rewarding.
Not surprisingly, Flesch takes many of his business cues from his father. Having that unique vantage point of growing up around the industry certainly paid dividends.
“He instilled in me at a young age that there is no substitute for hard work, and he always led by example in that regard,” Flesch said.
“It’s easy to get distracted or focused on things that are out of your control. But I’ve learned along the way that if you stay focused on the job you currently have and work hard to succeed, then everything else will take care of itself.”
It’s been a banner year for GFC. The company recently closed its acquisition of Advanced Systems in Iowa, a deal that expands its geographic footprint to the west. GFC also just became an authorized Ricoh Family Group dealer partner, widening its technology catalog for customers. Flesch is looking forward to seeing the new relationships progress and foster increased growth.
“In this industry, you must continue to grow,” he said. “As we work to integrate Advanced Systems into our GFC culture, we hope to leverage some of the horsepower of the new employees and win as much business as possible. In addition, we are looking to maximize growth in our managed IT business. We already have a nice base of customers, but there is a huge market for managed services, and I believe we can deliver a great customer experience for our IT clients.”
Leveraging opportunities in the future is a top priority for Flesch. He feels there is no room for complacency, which means staying on top of technology trends and keeping an open mind to the needs of the customer now and in the future. In the end, he says, it’s all about bringing value.
Flesch and his wife of 13 years, Kristen, have three boys—Charlie, James and George—all under the age of 10. That means a lot of time spent enjoying their sports and other activities (Flesch coaches one of their soccer teams). The family loves to travel and spend long weekends in northern Wisconsin. Last year, they attended the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Flesch’s other passions are golf and physical fitness.