Norbert Gehr’s Legacy – Life Documentary
This is an interview by Judy Jernudd of Norbert Gehr, the founder and chairman of The Gehr Group (www.gehr.com), and the benefactor of the Gehr Family Center for Health Systems Sciences and Innovation at the Keck School of Medicine. The interview took place in April of 2014, and can be viewed here.
Norbert Gehr arrived in New York City from Brazil in July 1960 as a teenager, with the dream of success and a few hundred dollars. He travelled across the United States to Southern California, where he took up residency and attended Santa Ana College and UCLA.
In 1965, at age 24, Mr. Gehr pursued his dream by using the modest proceeds from the sale of his car to start a small distribution business, selling industrial supplies nationwide to contractors over the phone. He hired, trained and supervised commissioned salesmen and distributed his products out of a small storefront in the San Fernando Valley. Through his drive, determination, hard work and perseverance, Mr. Gehr grew his business, hired more sales people and moved his expanding operations to downtown Los Angeles.
In 1975, Mr. Gehr established his own manufacturing facility, producing extension cords and other wire & cable products. Competing with industry giants like General Cable, Woods Wire, Leviton Industries and others, he continued growing his operations and in 1986 relocated his businesses to the City of Commerce, east of downtown Los Angeles, where he acquired a 13-acre 256,000 square feet facility to locate an expanded manufacturing plant and headquarter his distribution operations, which had already grown to almost 300 employees at the time. In the same period, Mr. Gehr founded Gehr International and Gehr Development.
After 50 years since its inception, The Gehr Group has become a diversified multinational holding company headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Its principal business units are engaged in international trade, real estate, manufacturing, wholesale and distribution.
- Gehr Industries engages in the manufacturing, sale and distribution of wire & cable, industrial supplies and related products throughout the United States and Canada. The company operates two divisions, Century Wire & Cable and Milspec Industries.
- Gehr Development engages in the ownership and operation of hospitality, commercial, retail, industrial and residential real estate. In the past 30 years, Gehr Development has owned and operated over 1,000 residential units in and over 1,000,000 square feet of industrial, office and retail space in California and Florida. In February 2009, Gehr Development expanded into the hospitality field with the acquisition of a 34-story hotel property in Manhattan, New York, located near Times Square. Later that year, Gehr Development opened Sky Room, Manhattan’s tallest rooftop lounge, and in June 2011 it acquired a second 34-story hotel property, also located near Times Square.
- Gehr International engages in the marketing, sales, installation and after-sales service of high-technology equipment and systems in the Marine/Offshore, Military, Environmental and Telecommunications markets in Brazil. Gehr International is the exclusive representative in Brazil for world-renowned companies and defense contractors such as: General Dynamics, Astronautics Corporation of America, Krauss Maffei Wegmann, Israel Aerospace Industries, Israel Military Industries, and others.