Bob Gross, owner of Brookfield-based Gross Automation, LLC, has traveled internationally with the three most recent Wisconsin governors on Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.’s global trade ventures. He’s spent time in Dubai, Seoul, London, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Poland, Sydney, Qatar, Guadalajara and Vasteras, Sweden, but a standout trip was to Stuttgart, Germany in 2018.
“We flew United Airlines … It’s just (Chicago O’Hare International Airport) to Frankfurt. I tend to go nonstop, especially for international flights, if I can. I take the bus to O’Hare, which takes you right to the international terminal. You don’t have to park, you don’t have to pay exorbitant rates.”
“We walked everywhere. Stuttgart is like a 7-kilometer fishhook around the city. It’s all pedestrian. And the nice thing about walking is you get to talk a lot, and you ask, ‘What’s that in the distance?’ There’s a story to everything.”
“I’m currently the president of the Wauwatosa Kiwanis Club, so I reached out to the president of the Kiwanis of Stuttgart. At the end of one of the days, he met us and we went on a walk around the city … About every four or five blocks, we would pick up another Kiwanian who would meet us on the route. It was awesome. It turned out, the guy who was walking with me, for a living, gives walking tours of Stuttgart … We saw parliament buildings and castles from the 1400s and museums and parks, fountains and statues.”
Accommodations and food:
Gross stayed in Aloft Hotel Stuttgart, a Marriott hotel. His favorite restaurant was Carls Brauhaus on the Schlossplatz (a palace square in the center of the city), where he ate traditional dumplings, called Maultaschen. “It was just one of the most enjoyable evenings.”
“If I had a call to action to anybody who was going to travel internationally, it would be: contact the local service club. I’ve learned when I take these trips, business is good, but it’s really good to reach out to the people who care. To be in a Kiwanis, a Rotary, a Lions, or any of the clubs, those are the people who care; they’re the ones who give back to the community.”