Grand Appliance’s Mark Reckling Honored by Industry at ADL Fete

AVB CEO Jim Ristow presents Mark Reckling, president of Grand Appliance and TV, with the ADL’s American Heritage Award.

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Mark Reckling, who grew BrandSource member Grand Appliance and TV from a single shop in Waukegan, Ill., to a soon-to-be 24-store chain spanning four states, received the American Heritage Award from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Saturday, Nov. 9.

The ADL is a global anti-hate organization founded to fight anti-Semitism and dedicated to exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and ending all forms of bigotry and discrimination.

The award ceremony, held at New York City’s Ziegfield Ballroom, was the highlight of the National Consumer Technology Industry Award Gala, an annual black-tie event that raises funds for the ADL and draws a who’s who of electronics and appliance industry luminaries.

Reckling received the award as a business leader who represents “the very best of our democratic society for [his] inspiration, involvement and leadership in helping to build a just and enlightened society,” the ADL said.

The extended Reckling family was on hand for event, including, from left: son Aaron, Vice President of Sales; wife Barb; honoree Mark; daughter Meagan Gauri, Executive Director of the Grand Foundation; her husband Anish Gauri, COO; daughter Jane Hood, Vice President of Human Resources; and her husband Sam.

Indeed, Grand Appliance’s tradition of giving goes back two generations to the Reckling family’s involvement in the Head Start and Habitat for Humanity programs, and continues with the company’s charitable Grand Foundation and Twelve Months of Giving initiatives.

In a moving acceptance speech that received a standing ovation, Reckling thanked his father, who was killed in a robbery at the Waukegan store, and his mother for instilling the values of kindness, compassion and empathy that have guided him, his family and his business throughout his life. (See Reckling’s address, below.)

He was introduced in a taped message by AVB CEO Jim Ristow, who joined Reckling on stage to present him with his award.

The ADL honorees and their award presenters included, from left: Joe Stinziano, Samsung; Tim Baxter (retired); Bridget Karlin, IBM; Gary Shapiro, CTA; John Taylor, LG Electronics; Mark Reckling, Grand Appliance; Jim Ristow, AVB|BrandSource.

The evening’s three other distinguished ADL award recipients were John Taylor, Senior Vice President of LG Electronics U.S.A.; Bridget Karlin, Global Chief Technology Officer of IBM; and Tim Baxter, the former President/CEO of Samsung Electronics North America.

Taylor, who started out as a newspaper reporter, began his 40-year industry career as a spokesperson for Zenith. He now leads LG’s communications and public affairs functions and plays active roles in the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) trade groups.

In her role at IBM, Karlin is responsible for IT infrastructure that runs the backbone our global digital economy, including 90 percent of the world’s top banks, nine of the 10 top energy companies, 40 of the top 50 retailers, and 92 of the top 100 healthcare organizations.

Baxter, a veteran of AT&T, Lucent and Sony, harnessed a combination of product design, sales prowess and price promotion to help grow Samsung from a tier-three brand to the U.S. leader in TVs and Android mobile phones, and a major player in the home appliance market.

Grand Appliance plans to open its 24th store in time for Black Friday and is scheduled to add two more locations in February 2020.

Mark Reckling Acceptance Speech

It’s a very humbling experience for me and my family to be here tonight. It’s also an honor to be here with these very distinguished recipients. Congratulations to you all!

I’d like to acknowledge and thank the ADL not just for the recognition tonight, but for all the work they do. The ADL does such good and necessary work fighting hate and anti-Semitism. What they do is important and meaningful, especially in today’s society. It’s important we all continue to support such an admirable organization, both emotionally and financially.

As Jim said, I’m the third generation of my family to own and operate Grand Appliance, and today we continue to cherish family as the fourth generation continues in the family tradition. There are 15 family members currently involved in the daily operation and management of our company.

Grand has gone through tremendous change in our 89 years of operation. We’ve gone from one small store in Waukegan, Ill., to 24 stores throughout the Midwest. This would not have been possible without the dedication from my loyal employees and the support from my industry friends.

I must acknowledge my mother, my father, my sisters and my brother. They are in my heart and at the heart of Grand Appliance.

No one had a bigger heart than my father. He always said, “Mark, serve those who need it the most.” I saw him extend credit for appliances when no one else would, many times never seeing the payment in full. He believed in people over profits.

When my dad passed away, the world lost a great man and a friend, a man who showed me how to treat people with respect and fairness.

My mother also fostered in us empathy for others. Her love of learning and her deep faith were at the core of who we were and who we are today. She was a teacher and believed that the way forward for all of us, regardless of color, faith or gender, is through education.

These are the values I was raised with. I’ve tried to pass them down to my own children and make them a part of my daily life in dealing with customers, business associates and the community.

And finally, I’d like to thank my wife Barb with all my heart: the girl I met as a freshman in college, who answered JFK’s call to help others and became a social worker. I could not have done any of this without you. You’ve been with me through it all, working together for 48 years to build a company and family that we are both proud of. You have always been my sounding board, my friend, and I certainly wouldn’t be standing here today without your unending support.

In closing, the founding vision of ADL was an America free from hate and threats; where everyone is equal, worthy of a shared opportunity; and a place where anyone could live the American dream. I’d like to thank the ADL for the important work they are doing. And on a personal note, our family would like to thank the ADL for helping make this a better America, that allows us to live our unimaginable American Dream.

YSN is published by BrandSource parent company AVB Inc.