Norbert Gehr, the late founder and CEO of The Gehr Group
Norbert Gehr, was a visionary entrepreneur, industrialist and founder/CEO of The Gehr Group (www.gehr.com). He died at his home in Beverly Hills on Saturday, February 28, 2015 following a 17-month battle with Leukemia. He was 74.
“I am a risk taker who likes to be challenged and I like to overcome those challenges. That makes me who I am”, said Norbert Gehr in an interview shortly before his untimely death. The captivating full interview is available on YouTube.
Norbert Gehr’s success was matched by his generous pursuit of philanthropy. His charitable activities through his Gehr Family Foundation include the establishment of The Gehr Family Center for Leukemia Research at City of Hope and a generous donation to the Keck School of Medicine of USC for the research and cure of Leukemia and the advancement of health care delivery in support of innovative medical interventions.
Norbert Gehr’s life story is an inspiration, a true Horatio Alger story. He came to the United States as a teenager with nothing but a burning ambition and, using his vision and drive, he created a very successful multinational business that supports hundreds of families.
The Gehr Success Story
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, Norbert 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, Norbert Gehr grew his business, hired more sales people and moved his expanding operations to downtown Los Angeles.
In 1975, Norbert 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 hundreds of employees employees at the time. In the same period, Norbert founded Gehr International and Gehr Development.
In the five decades since its modest 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, hospitality, manufacturing, wholesale and distribution.
Norbert Gehr is buried at Hillside Memorial Park in Los Angeles. A memorial service was held on March 8, 2015. He is survived by his four children Crystal Gehr, Max Gehr, Robert Gehr and Andrew Gehr.