PGS Alumni Stories

Gary Gerds (M.B.A. '08)

Your Story

For some, power is an end to itself; for others, it is the means to impact the world around them.

Gary Gerds (M.B.A. '08) is Vice President, General Manager, and Member of the Board of Directors at Grabber, Inc., a company that produces small air-activated warmers and other outdoor warmth and protection products. His position allows him to serve and connect with others in both an international and a local way. 

"Doing business internationally has brought me into contact with people from different cultures and religions and often provides an opportunity to answer questions about my faith. Cornerstone helped me to be prepared when those doors are opened," Gerds said.

Dan Tkachuk, territory manager - Western United States: Food; Drug & Mass Merchandise Division, was a classmate of Gerds' in the PGS program. He was also employed by Gerds in December of 2007. 

Tkachuk found the emphasis on real life applications to be extremely beneficial.

"Having the same professors and instructors teach multiple classes was extremely beneficial. We were able to see actually business managers instruct using their experiences from a global economic perspective," Tkachuck said.

Gerds noticed Cornerstone's campus while driving to and from work each day. One day, however, he noticed a sign advertising the new MBA program.

Gerds said he had originally planned to get his masters at Western, where he did his undergrad word. However, that plan changed when he postponed the pursuit of his masters because of his young family and a job that required frequent travel. 

Since then, however, Gerds was able to pursue his masters. The PGS program, which is designed to fit into a working person's schedule, was a good fit. Not only did Gerds enjoy the program himself, he recently recommended it to a former employee who is in the process of applying. 

"My Cornerstone education has enhanced my business skill set, strategic and analytical thinking, and helps me remember my goal of being a good steward," Gerds said. "Cornerstone's commitment to approaching business from the perspective of a Christian worldview aligns with my personal beliefs."

"My favorite memory of class were the weekly interactions with my very talented cohort -- the diversity of discipline sales, engineers, researchers, procurement, IT, marketing, manufacturing, teaching -- lots of experience to draw on from many major companies like Pfizer, Kellogg's Perrigo, Stryker, Eaton, State Farm & Parker Hannifin," Gerds said.

"There was truly a melting pot of talent from all careers, and it was great to see a Christian Worldview of business from engineers, managers, teachers, retailers, salesman, temps, buyers, even the unemployed. It was great to witness the differing experiences," Tkachuk said. 

Tkachuk was not only a classmate of Gerds', but also a member of the same Professional Learning Team, one of the unique aspects of every PGS cohort. Working together for two years allowed them to learn the way the other worked, their management, relationship and social styles, and prepared them to work together. 

Gerds also appreciates the chance to use his business to impact those in the community as well as internationally.

"We are fortunate to be blessed with company ownership that allows us to suport good causes. We have donated product to God's Kitchen, Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, the American Red Cross, International Aid, Habitat for Humanity and causes like Operation Gratitude (sending care packages to our service people station overseas) among many others," Gerds said.

When asked what his advice to current students would be, Gerds said, "Be fully engaged in your education, be courageous and make a conscious effort to move beyond your comfort zones. Reach beyond your grasp: you'll be surprised at what you can accomplish."