ST. CLOUD – After nearly four decades with Marco, Jeff Gau is ready to say farewell.

Gau will retire from his role as CEO of the St. Cloud-based business technology provider on March 31.

Gau began his career at Marco in 1984 as "a sales guy selling office furniture."

“It was right out of college after being in the Air Force,” Gau said. “We did business mostly in central Minnesota, about a 30-mile radius around St. Cloud. Typewriters were our economic engine, and office furniture and products were probably the biggest part of the business.”

“The whole company had to be reinvented numerous times over the decades,” he added.

And it was Gau who oversaw many of those reinvention periods. After taking on a variety of leadership roles within the company, including President, he was named CEO in 2003.

“We decided we were going to grow the business, and we were going to grow it aggressively,” Gau said. “It took 39 years for us to get our first $100 million in sales, three years to get the next $100 million, and then the next $100 million came a year later.”

“We accelerated our growth by making a commitment to changing the business model from office products, typewriters and equipment to a technology focus,” he added.

Marco’s shift to technology services was accompanied by a push to acquire other companies. During Gau’s tenure as CEO, the company grew from 160 St. Cloud-area employees to nearly 1,200 in 12 states across the US.

“We’d typically go and buy a copier or printer company, because we’d get the customer base with it,” Gau explained. Then we’d go and sell to those customers we just acquired. So, let’s say there’s a business owner, and he or she is ready to retire and they need an exit strategy. That would be a good fit for us.”

Gau’s first acquisition – a Detroit Lakes company – took place in 2005. Since then, he’s overseen 47 others.

“We’ve integrated (those businesses) into our business – that’s how we grow,” Gau explained. “And when you do it correctly, it creates opportunities and careers paths for people. If you look at our company today, many of the people who were with us back then are successfully here with us today, in their mid-40s, and they’ve had a good run because we created career paths in the technology sector.”

Gau says his retirement has been in the works for about three years and he’s ready to hand the baton to his successor, Marco President Doug Albregts, on April 1.

“You’d think it would be emotional, but the business in good shape, the leadership team is strong and it’s on a timeline that was well laid-out,” said Gau. “It was just the right way to do this, and I’m thankful for that.”

Albregts joined Marco in 2019 and has a long history holding leadership roles in the technology services arena.

“Doug’s been a friend of mine for over 10 years,” said Gau. “He’s been great for the company. I met him when he was the CEO of Sharp Electronics. We just finished a really strong year, and I’ll be leaving the company in very good hands. The company is financially sound and in the best financial position it’s ever been in. We’ve built a resilient business and we get to prove it when a recession or a pandemic happens.”

Gau won’t completely disappear from Marco; he’s looking forward to his new role as chairman of the board. But, he says retirement will free up time for road tripping around the country, golf, gardening and spending time with family and friends.

“I hope and pray for good health,” Gau said. “I’m not embarrassed to say it – I’m 62. If you’re lucky enough at age 62, you get that third period of your life. A lot of games are won in the third period, and I hope I’m able to finish a really, really good game.”

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