In 1990 I joined the then Harry Gill Company as the Controller. The company was struggling financially but I was a promotional pole vaulter for the company and thought it would be a good transition job from my competitive life to the real world. By Christmas time of 1992 the Company was on the verge of bankruptcy. In fact, the bank told us that they were “calling” our note (large long term debt) the next day if we did not find a buyer. Vince Atkins, a local real estate investor, stepped in and signed his name for the company backing its debt. I went to be fired by Vince because I knew that he would clean house but instead he made me the president and CEO. I was 29 years old and had no idea how to turn an ailing company around. It was at that time that Litania was birthed in my heart. I cried out to God in prayer and desperation and He answered me. Not only did he save the company but He blessed it wildly. In ten years we tripled its sales volume and consistently hit net operating income of 10% of sales.
When Vince hired me to be CEO he said that if I would turn the company around he would sell it to me in ten years. This seemed ridiculous at the time. I remember thinking “who would want to buy the Titanic”. Ten years came and I was entertaining thoughts of moving to a larger company. Even though I could not even afford the down payment, Vince wanted to sell the company to me and did in July of 2002.
The next year Vince built us a new factory in Champaign. We left our 85 year home in Urbana for our new factory.
In 2006, Porter Athletic was for sale. It also had been ailing for a few years and needed a suitor to purchase it and turn it around. Gill acquired the assets of Porter and signed a four year lease on its factory in Chicago. In 2008, plans were made to expand the Gill factory to accommodate the move of Porter to Champaign. In 2009 that became a reality.
Since becoming CEO of Gill in 1992 I have had a “list of prayers” on my wall. Litania is not just a name it is why I am here. Without God’s intervention at Gill and now at Porter there are no companies. He has faithfully answered my list of prayers…….Litania.