What does Arrow’s 100th Anniversary mean to me?

The 100th anniversary of Arrow means a great deal to me. It is a time of reflection, and a source of great pride in what we have accomplished. I have heard all kinds of statistics about how few companies survive the third generation of family ownership, let alone make it to 100 years. I owe my father a great deal of thanks for giving me an opportunity, and for believing in me. Not long after I joined the business 40 years ago, I remember he said to me, “Don’t say you work for your Dad, but rather say you’re in business with me.” That set me on a path of understanding the feeling of ownership, and whether by happenstance or his plan, he let me do so many things that I felt were necessary to grow the business.

Approximately fourteen years after I joined the business, we executed a stock redemption plan in which I was able to purchase the stock in the company from my Mom and Dad with “sweat equity”. Even though Dad took his social security and a lesser role in the company, he never had any intentions of totally retiring, so over 26 years later he still comes in a few hours each day, keeping his hand in, and he plays an important role in mentoring my sister Susie, the leather department employees, and talking to his many customers and friends on the phone.

Our 100th anniversary means 40 years for me of an incredible education in business as an entrepreneur. It means I have basically grown up in the business, and worn every hat possible that one could wear, from route driver and sales, to fur cleaner, hat blocker, dry cleaner/spotter, leather cleaner, sprayer, fire restoration
sales, pack out, and project manager, just to name a few. I have had a chance to learn every aspect of the business, and steer the company in the direction of diversification that has served us well. That foundation of learning and doing most every job in the business was fostered in me by my Father, and gave me an understanding of hard work, and what it took to be successful.

Above all else it means that over the last 40 years I have come into contact with so many people it would be impossible to count. I have been so lucky to know so many customers, employees, and colleagues that have truly enriched my life. Countless relationships from which I have learned so much; a lifelong relationship of being in business with my family, although bumpy at times, always cherished. It means that I have not only had the
opportunity to work with my wife Stephanie for over 26 years, but have had the love and support of her and my children Brad and Lauren through all of the really tough growth years, when I needed that support system to keep my sanity. I am also lucky to have had my sister Susie join the business 6 years ago, and now enjoy an even stronger bond with her. I have had the great pleasure of getting to know so many customers over the years from all over the country, as well as here in Kansas City, and some of them have become great friends. We have also benefited greatly from being a member of two unbelievable industry groups, made up of colleagues in the leather specialty business, and the textile restoration business that we could measure our company against,
and some of these business owners have been like my board of directors. One man in particular that I have been so fortunate to have known and learned from was Mr. Sid Tuchman, one of the great mentors in my life.

Finally, none of these 100 years of longevity would have been possible without the wonderful employees that enable us to carry out the plans, do the work, and serve our customers. So this 100th Anniversary is very much about our employees, past and present, who have worked the long hours in sometimes difficult conditions,
and have believed in our mission of being the best at everything we do. And so that is why we say…

“With every garment, every customer, and
every employee, Arrow cares”.

Bruce Gershon
President & CEO