Robert Gross, president and CEO of Gross Automation

Robert Gross

President and CEO

Gross Automation

3680 N. 126th St., Brookfield

Industry: Automation controls distribution

Revenue: $6 million

Employees: 24

Bob Gross, a determined engineer, started Gross Automation in 1990 with three employees.

He moved the company to a Milwaukee-based businesses incubator in the fall of 1991. At the time, many thought he was setting himself up for failure. To make matters worse, Gross battled through a four-and-a-half year lawsuit with his previous employer.

Despite the initial obstacles, Gross has grown his company into a $6 million business today with 24 employees. The firm operates out of a 38,000-square-foot facility in Brookfield.

“When I first started, so many said I couldn’t do it,” Gross said. “The more they said it, the more determined I was to finish. There were always opportunities and available projects to go after.”

Gross Automation sells primarily to original equipment manufacturers (OEM). The company provides aftermarket support, in addition to customized applications for customers in various industries.

“We have a number of different business units, like legs on a stool,” Gross said.

Gross added an additional office for the company in Holmen, five miles north of La Crosse, in 2000 but later closed the office and consolidated the operations to Brookfield in 2008.

Looking ahead, Gross is very optimistic about business opportunities for rail and alternative energy in Wisconsin. The aftermath of the Great Recession has created numerous business opportunities, he said.

“We’ve never has this many opportunities in one space,” Gross said.

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