One of the proudest Michigan State Spartans in recorded history donned his cap and gown for graduation on June 9, 1957. Sporting his newly minted degree in accounting, Robert Gerbel wasted no time landing a job in his career field of choice when he signed on the very next day with a CPA firm in Benton Harbor, Michigan that would eventually become Plante Moran. For more than a decade, Robert toiled on behalf of the company, handling the tax and accounting work of clients across the southwest corner of the state of Michigan.
In 1959, Robert married the love of his life, Carol. Having teased Carol with the dream of someday owning his own accounting firm, she finally gave him an ultimatum. One Sunday evening in August of 1968, Carol said, “You’ve talked about this and talked about this. What are you going to do? Either start your own firm or quit talking about it!” That was the only motivation Robert would ever need, saying, “I’d really like to give it a try.”
The reality is that, for Robert Gerbel, there is no “try”. Less than a month later, on September 23, 1968, a simple black and white plaque was erected on the front of a two story building at the corner of Main and 6th Streets in downtown Benton Harbor declaring the new home of “Robert L. Gerbel, CPA, Room 203”. A straight set of stairs led clients and prospects to the offices of Robert’s firm above the Office Equipment Company. From his 2nd floor perch, Robert could see the JC Penney Company from one set of windows and the Vincent Hotel from another.
As Robert’s firm rapidly outgrew its physical space, he decided to move the business in the early 70s to a relatively new commerce center at 806 Ship Street in St. Joseph, called the 800 Centre, home to a number of business enterprises. Twelve years later, in November of 1984, Robert and his colleagues became the first tenants in the Peoples State Bank Building at 830 Pleasant Street. They moved in even before the bank did, taking more than half of the top floor of the location known today as the Fifth Third Bank Building.
Over the years, the accounting firm has been known as Gerbel & Butzbach and Gerbel, Butzbach and Maki, CPAs, until anchoring on Gerbel & Company, P.C. Gerbel & Company is now home to 10 employees and growing, including 4 CPAs, 2 accountants and 4 support staff. Robert attributes the success and longevity of his 46-year-old powerhouse firm to an excellent crew of very outgoing, hardworking and diligent associates who make a difference for the firm’s myriad clients. Handling financial and tax matters for clients both large and small, Robert and his crew welcome these challenges daily, and have committed to delivering their accounting services Right. On Time. At a Fair Price.