Family-based mover becomes global relocation leader.

Position:FAMILY PORTRAITS Graebel Companies

Aside from a brief stint tuning skis at a winter sporting goods shop. Bill Graebel has never worked anywhere but his father's company.

"My first involvement was probably when I was 7 years old," Graebel says.

Established before Bill was even born, Dave Graebel launched a company in 1950, as an agent for Allied Van Lines in Wausau. Wis.

At age 12, Bill became a laborer, taking things out of the garage and off the trucks. At 18 he started driving tractor-trailers and continued through his years at Colorado College.

In 1983, Dave launched Graebel's international moving services and relocated headquarters to Colorado, a more central hub at the intersection of two major interstates.

"It was the ideal location for growing our national brand," Bill says.

And grow it has.

By 1996, the company launched its relocation and assignment management services.

"This was an era when the mission was to expand our footprint, reach and brand of Graebel Van Lines," Bill says.

From the mid-80s through early 2000s, Graebel materialized as the fastest-growing van line in the U.S.

Bill ascended quickly in that two-decade span. By 1991, he took on the role of president of the van lines and storage network, which endured a period rapid expansion from 1983 to 1988, going from 13 branches to 40.

As Bill rose the ranks, he reported to Dave, who served as chairman. Bill calls his father an "extraordinary entrepreneur."

Bill's brother Ben, who was six years older, also served as president antd COO in the early to mid-90s. He passed away in 2008.

In the late '90s, Bill pivoted to expand Graebel's international activity, calling the shift a "huge gamble." Up until that point, "the preponderance of American companies' activity remained in the U.S." Bill recalls declaring, "As we approach the 21st century, it's certainly going to be one that's more global, with companies moving operations offshore and more outsourcing." He says the opportunity presented itself to build a brand at the forefront of expertise for moving people internationally. In 2008, despite economic chaos, Graebel expanded its footprint offshore with its first international satellite in Prague, later opening offices in Singapore and Shanghai.

"Our fresh approach was one of transparency," Bill says. "At that time, the relocation industry was providing an adequate level of service, but few clients were really wowed by the experience or value of program management for corporate transfers."

Graebel gobbled up new...

To continue reading