Paul Grossnickle and sons Steve and Bruce were honored by State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki Wednesday evening with the presentation of the third annual Spike Award.
“With the attach on the business community these past few yeas, I felt it was time to honor the business man who has had the courage to put out the shingle and hope for success,” stated Kubacki.
The evening was filled with humor with father and sons keeping those in attendance laughing and smiling throughout the evening.
Paul Grossnickle, who retired eight years ago at the age of 81, grew up in North Manchester. After his official discharge from the Navy in 1957, he searched the area to open an optometrist office. “I started checking Marion … all the towns up in this area Goshen, Packerton, Clunette, Sidney.” He added he was aware of Warsaw and that it had good schools, recreation opportunities, and was a financially sound city.
He opened his office on Market Street in 1957, with one technician and himself. “Starting a business of your own, you have to like the work. I enjoyed going in,” he stated.
His retirement came when it became hard to keep up with the changes in the industry. He left the business — Grossnickle Eye Center — to his sons, Steve and Bruce. Steve Grossnickle had joined the business in 1978 with Bruce joining in 1982.
“It is awfully kind and gracious of you,” stated Bruce Grossnickle in thanking Kubacki for thinking of the family. “We never thought of ourselves as entrepreneurs. We’re eye doctors.”
The business grew from two employees, to six and one facility. There are now four offices and 100 employees, with the surgery center performing 5,000 surgeries a year and the center having over 50,000 patient visits a year.
Bruce Grossnickle stated that in 1986 having a surgery center in an office was a
risky undertaking and was a crazy idea, but it worked. “We hired great employees,” he noted, adding many have been with the company for 25 to 30 years. “Steve was always the one to say we can do that, but never how to do that. He pushed us unto doing things that made us better,” joked Bruce. “Steve was the guy with the ideas, one was to pool our charitable money to form the Grossnickle Family Foundation.”
“The four of us sat down at a table,” Steve stated, noting they wanted to make their charitable donations increase. They looked at “… the two greatest philanthropic individuals. They reside in Kosciusko County,” he stated, and named Dr. Dane and Mary Louise Miller.
Because of the success of the foundation, the family has been able to generously give back to the community through various organizations. “We do want to thank Rebecca for this award, so we want to thank you. The thank you comes from the Grossnickels. Let me divided that up. What’s a gross? 144. What’s a nickel? 5. Multiply those. 720 right? 720 thank you’s,” said Steve.
The Spine Award is a gold spine and is meant to remind individuals that there are not enough who show backbone and that “Those that show backbone, have a spine — people who are committed to their country, their community, their state …”
The evening ended with Kubacki receiving her own award from the Grossnickle family. “The backbone isn’t the only tough part of the human anatomy,” stated Steve Grossnickle, adding their gift to her also represented toughness.
Previous recipients of the Spine Award were Gov. Mitch Daniels and U.S.
Rep. Mike Pence.