Hall of Famer Mark Reckling accepts his award, surrounded by family members (from left) Anish and Meagan Gauri, Barb Reckling, Jane Hood and Aaron Reckling.

Retail icon Mark Reckling inducted into BrandSource Hall of Fame

By Andy Kriege, YSN

Mark Reckling, CEO of Grand Appliance, was one of two retail titans inducted into the prestigious BrandSource Hall of Fame at the group’s annual Convention, held last month in Dallas.

The Hall of Fame award recognizes individuals for their lifetime achievements in the retail industry. Reckling was installed in the 2022 class with Mark Pardini of Pardini Appliance.

Reckling’s retail journey is the embodiment of the American dream. That journey began in 1979 when he joined his father at the family business, founded in 1930 as Service Electric by his granddad, a Norwegian immigrant. The company later took the name of the Waukegan, Ill., avenue where it was located, and was led through the 1960s and ’70s by Reckling’s father, Fred.

Thirteen years after Reckling took the reins, Grand Appliance opened its second store and has not slowed down since. Today, the retailer’s 450 employees serve household and commercial customers out of 27 locations across four Midwestern states.

Grand’s expansion bounded during the “Great Recession,” when several large competitors began dropping off and Reckling seized the opportunity to jump into those markets and fill the void. “The key was having centralized operations and distribution,” he said. “We simply took advantage of the opportunity the marketplace presented — but you have to have the guts to go do it.”

The CEO attributes his achievements to his faith, a strong work ethic and the entrepreneurial spirit that he says trickled down from his parents and grandfather. He in turn has passed those qualities on to his extended family, including his son, Aaron Reckling, daughter Jane Hood, son-in-law Anish Gauri, and numerous extended family members. He is also quick to credit the love and support of his wife of 47 years, Barb.

Reckling also acknowledged the company’s “extended Grand Family,” including the sales, operations, delivery and corporate teams, which have all played an integral part in the growth and success of the 92-year-old enterprise.

Beyond business, the Hall of Famer has also channeled the spirit of helping others from his mother Odny, who was responsible for bringing the Head Start program to local Lake County, Ill., in the 1960s. In turn, Reckling formed the Grand Foundation — an acronym for “Giving Resources to Achieve and Nurture Dreams” — which has awarded grants to hundreds of local nonprofit groups and facilitates volunteer opportunities for employees to help the communities where Grand operates stores. Reckling assigned his daughter Meagan Gauri to run the foundation, whose stated mission is to promote education and social harmony for people of all ages.

The Grand Appliance patriarch was humbled to receive his Hall of Fame honors and grateful for the support of BrandSource. “Forty-three years ago, I joined the family business with my dad in our one-store location and operated on our own for several years,” he recounted in his acceptance speech. “We then joined a couple different buying groups before we eventually landed in the other large, for-profit group. But when [AVB CEO] Jim Ristow and [BrandSource President] Tom Bennett came down in 2017, we knew it was time to come back to a [not-for-profit] group where the members and their success really matters. We’re glad to be here.”

Reckling took time at his induction to thank all those who helped him get where he is, particularly his family and especially his father. “I really do love the appliance business,” he told the packed ballroom. “I love coming to work and competing for business each and every day.”

He also addressed his 2019 diagnosis of stage IV cancer. “When I got the news three years ago the situation looked bleak,” he said. “But with the love and support of family and friends I have gotten through these past three years, and I am looking forward to the future.”

Reckling closed with the inspirational words, “Remember this above all else: nothing is impossible.”

BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, furniture, mattress and CE dealers.