Chairman and CEO
Graebel Relocation Services Worldwide
Location: Aurora, CO
Industry: Global and Domestic Relocation Services
To understand clearly, to care deeply, and to be accountable in delivering purposeful growth. Building off these three pillars are how Bill Graebel worked his way to the top of his family’s business, making Graebel Relocation Services Worldwide a leading provider of global talent and workplace mobility solutions for Fortune 500 and Global 1000 firms, providing services in 165 countries.
But Graebel is the first to acknowledge that this global growth did not come easy.
Founded by his father, Dave Graebel, in 1950 in Wausau, Wisconsin, Graebel recalls working at the prior family business, Graebel Movers. An office, warehouse and truck yard, Graebel began working at the age of 12, sweeping out trucks, warming up the cars of the company executives, and eventually moving and parking the trucks in a very cramped lot. Embracing every aspect of the family business including the physical demands that came with loading and packing the trucks, Graebel said that he loved working at the company after school and in the summers of his youth. Graebel’s real progression in the company began after his graduation from Colorado College in 1983.
Three years later, where Graebel had been managing a regional office, the company began to accelerate and relocated to Denver.
Over the next 20 years, Bill served as an operations manager, local sales manager and sales and marketing director before heading up the company’s overall operations, expanding its international forwarding activities as well as its U.S. footprint. In 2004 he took on the role of CEO while his father remained active as chairman. He continued to build Graebel to the point that it was the largest private relocation organization in the U.S. with nearly 2,000 employees. At this point, Graebel was handling household moves for the employees of major Fortune 500 companies.
In the first decade of 2000, corporations began to outsource all their talent mobility services, not just the household goods shipments, to relocation management companies (RMCs). Graebel expanded to offer this service as well.
Then in 2015, the Graebel father and son team had the foresight, humility and courage to divest the legacy element of the company’s van line and moving and storage businesses. Together, they transformed Graebel into the RMC model, fully embracing the professional services side of the relocation industry. Thanks to this fundamental shift, Graebel quickly emerged as a major RMC player, prepared to manage every aspect of a corporate mobility program, including the entire move experience for employees ranging from interns to CEOs, while also consulting and advising clients on corporate mobility programs and policies.
No longer limited by brick and mortar, Graebel has put all its energy and resources toward the 21st century global model of relocation management. The relocation industry recognizes that Graebel is unique among its peers in that, as the future-facing leader of a family-owned business, Graebel has taken calculated risks that have paid off by expanding and remaking the company in the face of new trends and opportunities.
“It’s a function of continuous improvements in our employee, client, transferee and supplier NPS scores, coupled with our financial results,” Graebel explained. “We have brought custom technology solutions and unmatched customer service to all of our clients and delivered in alignment with the company’s guiding principles of truth, love and integrity.”
Throughout his career, Bill has been a strong supporter of the industries he has been engaged in. He served as a board member for the pre-eminent international moving and storage association, OMNI, during the company’s moving and storage days. Bill believes strongly in giving back to his community and he has purposefully focused his volunteer time on programs that support young people. He was a board member of Colorado Uplift for 20 years and has served as a Boy Scout trustee for 20 years and as a board member of the University of Colorado Business School for eight years. He is a two-time recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from Worldwide ERCÂ most recently in 2017. After the company’s business model shifted to RMC services, Graebel served for three years on the board of the major international relocation services association, Worldwide ERCÂ. During the recent COVID-19 crisis, Graebel created the Extended Relief Services program to offer localized support for its client’s mobile employees and their families who faced extraordinary and urgent needs in their host countries.
It is no wonder that Graebel’s dedication to his family, business and community has made him into the industry Titan that he is known for today. In addition to having transparency with his high values, Graebel offers some great growth advice:
“Be curious, be accountable, be inclusive,” Graebel said. He added, “It is also pertinent to remain hungry, smart, and humble.”
A true testimony to the results of working hard and how positive perseverance can pay off in business- and in life."
Bill is an accomplished and passionate skier. As of February 2021, he has skied at least one day each month for 329 consecutive months!