Harry Singleton Gretz
A great man died-August 29,2015.
Harry Singleton Gretz was born on October 23,1942. The son of Mary Bacon and William Charles
Gretz,III of Abington,PA, Harry was the second of five children. He
grew up in the realms of the Gretz Beer Dynasty (Philadelphia) and could
always amuse us with outlandish tales-blowing up the prep school
bathroom with his brother Butch, lighting a campfire-in his bedroom, and
the parade of his pet ducks during a formal dinner with the Anheuser-Busch
Harry was the quintessential self-made man. He started Trans-American Equipment Corp. 30
years ago and grew it into an industry-leading forklift sales and rental
company. He was widely known and greatly respected within the industry. Harry
was also a founding member of the Charlotte Queens Cup Steeplechase, a member
of both Firethorne Country Club, Marvin,NC and the Vesper Club of Philadelphia.
However, Harry's true legacy is his family. He is survived by his wife
of 31 years,Stephanie Spires Gretz of Weddington, NC. A daughter, Dawn D.
Gretz of Brooklyn,NY. The mother of his children, Marian C. Gretz
of Swarthmore,PA. His daughter Wendi Gretz(Scott)of Atlanta,GA and a
son, Brian Gretz(Trude)of Wesley Chapel,NC. Sister-in-law,Paula Elias(Richard)of Encino CA,and
two sisters, Margorie Rossi and Susan Fletcher of Abington, PA, along with numerous
nieces and nephews.
Harry's greatest achievement was receiving the unbridled love and respect of his
grandchildren -Anna, Megan, Benjamin and Caroline "noodles" Gretz. How
blessed we are to live so close to Grand-Pop and Grammy and be able to
create many loving memories that time will never erase.
We would like to thank Stephanie Gretz for many years as Harry's wife and
caregiver and for donating a kidney to Harry, thereby giving us precious additional
years to build memories. We offer a special thanks to Dr. Christopher Buehrig
and staff. Your dedication and commitment to Harry's care has been
without borders and we are so deeply grateful. He was proud to call you a
friend. Our heartfelt thanks also to the Union Co. EMS personnel for their heroic efforts
and to the Union Co. Sheriff officers for their immeasurable compassion and respect.
Lastly, we would be remiss if we did not mention the truly greatest love of Harry's
life-anything furry. Harry loved all creatures, but none so much as his precious 4 cats.
Therefore, in lieu of flowers, Harry would be honored if you would make donations to the
Humane Society of Union & Mecklenburg Counties, the Angel's Dog Rescue and Adoption,
or to a charity of your choice.
April 1, 2005 Material Handling Wholesaler
Industry Leader: Harry Gretz Transamerican
Harry Gretz literally collided with the material handling industry by accident.
"Believe it or not, I had a guy hit me head on," Gretz said. His lawyer on the case recommended him to a friend in material handling, and Gretz started work in a cast.
Within two years, he was a branch manager. He's had a 42-year career in the material handling industry, starting in the service department, working his way up to ownership of his own company, Trans-American Equipment.
"I'm a self-made man," he said. "This company has been very successful. We made money the first six months." Trans-American, a wholesale forklift company, has branches in Charlotte, North Carolina and Savannah, Georgia.
Gretz praises his customers and employees, saying they got him where he is today. The customers are "real people. It's like nothing else in this world. They are just gentlemen. They pay their bills."
Among his mentors are people he worked for-some of whom he still misses-and his lawyer and accountant, who were in the material handling industry. They gave good advice, and "I listened to them," he said.
The secrets to his success aren't complicated. "Treat people as you want to be treated. That goes without saying. It does work," Gretz said. "Honesty is the only way."
That philosophy is reflected in a complete benefits package for his employees, he said, which helps build loyalty and dedication. "You have to give as much as you take," he said.
His advice to people just entering the material handling business: "It's a tough business. You work hard. I'm a firm believe that hard work never killed anybody. Surround yourself with the right people."
Part of Trans-American's success comes from seeing a need and filling it with a large rental fleet. "They're all late model. I buy them brand new," he said.
While the business has done well, the past couple years have been rough health-wise for Gretz. He needs a kidney transplant, and his wife will be the donor within a couple months. "She's been my inspiration. She drives me. If I don't want to go to dialysis, she says, 'You're going.'"
It's not often that an employee offers the boss a kidney if he needs it, but it happened to Gretz. "I have a fellow who works for me who offered to give me one of his," Gretz said. "I'm very impressed and very humbled." The disease is "a horrible thing. It's hurt me a great deal. Dialysis drains you," he said.
He's had 14 operations. "Your health is worth a hell of lot more than money," he said. His mother recently died, and over the past two years, he's lost a brother to kidney disease and two other siblings to cancer.
"The business is really being turned over to my son," Brian, he said. Gretz has two grandchildren, age 1 1/2 and a six-month old who smiles more than any baby he's ever seen. "That's what I'm living for," he said of his grandchildren. He'd love to have lots more.
After his recuperation, he's looking forward to traveling in the United States and Europe. He grew up in Philadelphia, where his family of German origin had a brewery and his father was a brewmaster.
Gretz is a grateful man, and much of his gratitude is centered on the industry where he made his career. "I started very low and worked my way up. I've made a lot of money. I can't complain," Gretz said.
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