When I started my career, I wanted what most employees want – a company with a good reputation, ethical bosses, high achievers, and a fun environment.
I had a number of offers to work for large, well-known companies 37 years ago. I chose Marco after meeting Gary Marsden, who is one of the founders and was Chief Executive Officer at the time.
He and his co-founding partner, Dave Marquardt, worked at IBM before starting Marco. Gary told me I would find something at Marco that I couldn’t find at those other places. He offered to teach me to sell, manage and run a business – in short order. So, I accepted the job.
He was right. What I have realized is, most people want all those attributes that I listed. But few get them.
As Marco’s CEO since 2005, I sought to carry on the legacy of the founders – not break the good stuff they started – and to intentionally grow leaders and build careers. That is what motivated me all these years and what I am most proud of, as I retire.
The hardest part as a leader has been keeping that a focus – first and foremost – with constant attention, action and investments. It’s easy to get distracted or to think it will just happen on its own. But it won’t.
I never imagined this is where Marco would be when I retired. We just took it one step at a time. As I look back, some highlights for me are:
- Establishing a commitment to continuous improvement in the early 1990s. I’m so glad someone had the foresight to do this. Marco is better because of it.
- Completing our first acquisition – because it was a catalyst to 47 more and counting.
- Receiving local, state and national workplace awards that validated our culture, the pride of our employees, and our fun environment.
- Becoming the largest copier dealer in the country.
- Hitting the $100 million revenue mark, after thinking it was audacious.
- Building a new headquarters in St. Cloud to accommodate future growth and support additional opportunities for our employees.
- Finding ways to be innovative, and to stay relevant and resilient for our customers and stakeholders (through the evolution of the Internet, the Great Recession and a global pandemic – just to name a few).
- Serving over 28,000 active customers.
- Hearing the enthusiasm of our sales professionals when they landed a customer win. I still love sales stories, after all these years.
- Meeting each new employee and making connections at new-hire orientation. Even as Marco grew, I made this a priority. Watching new people come into the organization and hearing their excitement kept me motivated until the very end.
I feel like I received an opportunity of a lifetime, and I gave others an opportunity of a lifetime. What’s better than that?
I leave Marco with no regrets and complete peace of mind. I know the future of the organization is in good hands. I am so confident in the ability of this team. They are smart, know how to play to their strengths, and they care about our people, our customers and our communities.
Thanks for being on this journey with me. I look forward to joining you as a reader, as Doug Albregts takes over the reins and this blog to share his insights and what’s next.
Q&A with Jeff Gau
Marco's Incoming CEO Doug Albregts recently sat down with Jeff to ask him about his career, highlights, hardest moment and lessons learned. Listen now.