Posted: November 05, 2013
2013 Top Company winner: Graebel Companies Inc.
Innovation and expansion keep Graebel on top of its global gameBy Gigi Sukin
GRAEBEL COMPANIES INC. (Watch a video about Graebel.)
Graebel has its eyes on the prize; and the prize is the whole wide world.
With its headquarters in Aurora, Graebel is the only privately owned company that serves as a single-source solution for relocation logistics, thus offering operational efficiency, accurate, timely and streamlined communications with its Fortune 500 clientele scattered around the globe.
Innovations that have kept Graebel on top of its global game include: the relocation industry’s first mobile apps, requiring secure password-protected access to client portals, surveys and estimates conducted in customers’ homes.
But it’s not just fancy tech tools that have gotten Graebel to global relevance. In a four-year span and amid the Great Recession, Graebel transformed a Colorado-based business with zero offshore brick and mortar locations to one with a 2,000-person footprint overseas.
“One of the riskier moments in my recollection occurred when I arrived at the Marriott in the Czech Republic to open our first overseas office,” said CEO Bill Graebel, harkening back to Sept. 2008. “I set my bags down at the hotel and turned on CNN and I see Tim Geitner, then Secretary of Treasury, talking about AIG and Lehman Brothers and announcing the start of the global financial crisis. So that was my initial impression when I stepped off the airplane and landed in Prague. It was a little spooky.”
But Graebel kept his wits about him, opening his company’s first international office the following morning.
“When you start, you’re concerned if the secret sauce will translate in a different culture, what the work ethic will look like. But from that interesting day forward, we have been more successful than expected and more relevant than I could have ever imagined. It’s really fulfilling to establish a successful business measured, yes, in dollars and cents, but in rhythm and culture that transcends nationalities.”
Graebel’s international footprint now spans five continents.
“There have been many challenges and interesting things we’ve come across. But as far as the notion of globalization, I don’t know what to reasonably project in the next few years,” Graebel said. “Business will go on and become increasingly global. Companies will be expected to be more agile, mobile and make an impact anywhere.”
Gigi Sukin is an Associate Editor at ColoradoBiz. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.