David D. Reh ’62, Hon. ’17, the namesake for the Clarkson University Reh School of Business, passed away August 18 at the age of 77.
"David D. Reh was an exemplary Clarkson alumnus and benefactor to the University in every way," said Anthony G. Collins, president of Clarkson University. "As a visionary entrepreneur of great acumen, he inspired an entire generation of students, faculty, and alumni to ignite their intellectual curiosity and see the big picture in creating wealth for society. Dave's equation for success went beyond building great companies and global brands. He was firmly grounded in his commitment to giving back to his greater community, his country and to the institutions that helped shape his own opportunities in life. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, classmates, and friends."
Reh graduated from Clarkson in 1962 with a degree in Industrial Distribution. When he began his career in material handling, he initially worked for AT&T Long Lines and Gleason Works. However, his goal was to be his own boss.
After receiving an MBA from the University of Rochester Graduate School of Business, now called the Simon Business School, Reh joined Hartman Sales in Rochester. Three years later, Reh purchased the Rochester branch of Hartman Sales and began living his entrepreneurial dream. His sales experience had taught him how to improve the customer experience.
In 1977, Reh founded Gorbel Inc. in response to what he saw was the inability of other crane manufacturers to “get it right.” Reh initiated processes and systems that would make Gorbel a leader in the industry.
Reh was approached by two other business associates in 1986 with an idea for another material handling business that would upgrade and retrofit outdated warehouse controls and modernize systems. Retrotech was born, with Reh as the primary investor.
Over the next three decades, Reh founded or absorbed other businesses as part of his expanding enterprise, in the process creating Raytec, the accounting and administrative support structure of which he was chairman.
Reh’s entrepreneurial vision extended far beyond the confines of the manufacturing plant or the technology platform. In the mid-1990’s, Reh “discovered” the game of golf, which quickly became a passion. He purchased approximately 200 acres of land in the town of Victor, New York and contacted one of the most well-known and respected golf course architects to design Ravenwood Golf Club. It opened in 2002 and is considered the top public golf course in the area and was selected by Golf Digest as the fifth “Best New Public Course” in the United States to open in 2002.
Reh was a dedicated advocate for higher education. From 2007-2012, Reh served on Clarkson’s Business Leadership Council; he also served as a Clarkson Freshman Business Mentor during the 2013 academic year and was a member of Clarkson’s Reh Center for Entrepreneurship Advisory Council, a position he held since 2009. At the University of Rochester's Simon School of Business, he served on the Executive Advisory Committee providing guidance on the strategic direction of the school and spent four years on Simon’s national council. He was a past secretary and vice chair of the Finger Lakes Community College Foundation and a former member of the Victor Central School District Board of Education.
Reh and his wife, Sue A. Reh, have been passionate advocates for Clarkson. Their commitment to supporting and shaping business and entrepreneurship education led to the establishment of the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship at Clarkson University. The Reh’s continued their support through an endowed chair and an endowed professorship, which supports permanent faculty positions with a focus on entrepreneurial leadership, research and practice.
In 2017, Clarkson named its School of Business after Reh in recognition of his lifetime of support of the institution and influence on the School’s award-winning education. He also was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree at Clarkson's Commencement that May. The degree was awarded for "his steadfast commitment to technology innovation and entrepreneurship, the twin engines of progress, and for his dedication to shaping the next generation of business creators and industry leaders."
The Reh School of Business and its Reh Center for Entrepreneurship were founded in 2009 to give students from all disciplines at Clarkson access to the resources and practical skill-building exercises to develop their entrepreneurial competence and support framework for business. Students gain advice and expertise to not only propel their businesses forward but also learn how to work systematically – a skill that will pay off when they enter industry or a start-up. Through hands-on consulting projects by faculty and students with entrepreneurs and innovators, there has been a proliferation of new start-ups and the sustainability of small businesses in the region.
Reh is survived by Sue, his wife of more than 50 years, three sons, and nine grandchildren. They live in Victor, N.Y. Calling hours are Thursday from 3 pm to 7 pm at Keenan Funeral Home in Fairport, NY. The funeral is Friday at 2:00 p.m. at the Asbury Methodist Church on East Avenue in Rochester. His full obituary is in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.