John Gill wasn’t entirely surprised when Joe Sbarra called him up and said “we should start our own company.” After all, John had known Joe, who was younger by a couple of years, since Joe was still in school. The two shared a common work ethic and set of values.
By then, John had completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and spent the first seven years of his career at Trane. Together, they developed the vision for a new kind of manufacturers’ representative firm: one grounded in the kind of technical engineering expertise needed to become true partners with their clients.
Until then, the industry norm was for a company like Trane to sell the entire equipment package for any given job for one lump sum. But among the many benefits of Gil-Bar’s unmatched technical expertise was the ability to say to clients, “the most effective and efficient solution for your job is actually a customized combination of components from more than one manufacturer.” Gil-Bar was in a unique position to understand both the quality of each manufacturer’s products, and also the optimal integration across the entire system.
The next big innovation John helped lead: when the industry shifted from single-building plants to floor by floor units. Initial costs were higher, but the systems were quieter and more efficient over time because the individual units could be repaired or replaced without redoing the entire building.
But for all the innovation, John’s proudest accomplishments come back to people, especially the lifelong relationships with clients: “Connecting with people is the heart of it.” His other main source of pride: the caliber of the team and culture at Gil-Bar itself. “I always felt we owed it to all these people to give them a good place to work. To the extent we’ve been able to do that, I feel very blessed.” John currently divides his time between family in Westchester and serving as a senior advisor to Gil-Bar and its clients.