It’s Meet a Mom Monday! This week we have a fun twist, a Meet a Dad interview!
This weeks Meet a Dad is born and raised Chicagoan Glenn Norman Gierke! Glenn is the owner and founder of O’Hare Personal Valet, a valet airport service making families lives much easier when traveling. You won’t find this dad of 4 on social media, but you can learn more about him and his unique business here! (This car service is one every parent will want to know about!)
Please introduce yourself. Where are you from originally? What city do you live in now? What brought you here? What you do for a living and your title.
My name is Glenn Norman Gierke and I am the founder and owner of the parent company, O’Hare Personal Valet. I was born and raised in Park Ridge, IL and my beautiful wife Domenica and I are raising our family in the same suburb that I grew up in as a kid!
You’re a dad! How many kiddos do you have and how old are they? Feel free to brag here.
Yes, I am a dad. I’m a minivan driving dad. I love my Odyssey and am not ashamed to say it’s my favorite car. My wife and I have 4 children, 3 girls and 1 boy. They range in age from 1 year old to 10 years old! My son and I are totally outnumbered in our house! As a family, we make it a point to spend intentional time without screens, distractions, and headphones. It’s amazing what you’ll hear from your kids when they’re given a chance to have your full undivided attention.
What’s one or two things people would be surprised to know about you…
I’ve never felt a want to have social media in my personal life.
The office is a show that you’ll find me watching on repeat on Netflix.
Favorite local places to spend time with the family?
As a family run business owner, I try to support local businesses whenever possible. I really enjoy Blossom Cafe in Norridge for breakfast!
As an active family within our church, my wife and I lead a couples small group that gathers once a week. We also are committed to selfless service by volunteering and donating to organizations in and around Chicagoland. My family and I are regular supporters of Operation Christmas Child by Samaritan’s Purse, Baby Spirit Foundation, Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer foundation, and the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. Additionally, We also support a missionary couple in Africa, Africans reaching Africa.
Year round, but especially in the summer, we enjoy our time in Lake Geneva at my parents’ home. We love lake life because it allows us to connect as a family. We love to walk the shore path, which is a 21 mile loop around the lake, to explore the beautiful homes and landscapes of Geneva Lake. There are also so many fun places to go and eat at and around Lake Geneva. The kids love Paradise Golf Park for Mini Golf, OakFire for Pizza and Kilwins for the best Ice Cream!
We enjoy being outside and spending time with family as much as possible. Our family loves to ski, and our favorite area is Steamboat in Colorado. In the warmer weather, we load up the minivan and enjoy a day trip to Starved Rock State Park for hiking and waterfalls.
What did you do before OPV?
I’ve always been involved within family run businesses. Even in my twenties and younger! My family owned car and truck rental companies, firewood processing and sales, and off-site airport parking. It was during the time they owned the off-site airport shuttle company that the concept for O’Hare Personal Valet was formed.
Please introduce your endeavor. How long has this been established? Please describe how we use OPV?
O’Hare Personal Valet is the fastest way in and out of O’Hare Airport. Our customer’s drive to our facility which is located about 7-8 minutes from O’Hare and pick up a valet. The valet drives in your car as a passenger to the airport terminal. He/She will then help unload your luggage, collect your car keys and return your vehicle back to our facility. We will keep your car in our secure indoor garage or outdoor parking lot for the duration of your trip and return your vehicle to the arrivals terminal of your airline upon the touch down of your flight. Additionally, our customers can also request add-on services such as a hand car wash, car detail services, car service appointments like an oil change, fill up your gas tank as well as electric vehicle charging.
I am no stranger to the parking business. My family has owned airport parking companies on and off since 1983. About 10 years ago inspiration struck after a customer of mine, from my family’s shuttle parking company, asked me to ride with him to the airport in his car and deliver it back to him upon his arrival. A few years later, O’Hare Personal Valet was born. This inspirational customer is one of my best customers to this day.
Opened in 2014, O’Hare Personal Valet will celebrate 8 years in business in 2022! As of publication of this feature we’re still rebuilding our rides from our pre-pandemic numbers, however; it’s been awesome to see our customers return to travel as well as welcome our new customers with our customer service, care and speed in returning our customers cars to O’Hare.
What have you sacrificed for the success of your career business?
Time with my family. As a small business owner, I wear many hats! Luckily, I have an incredible valet team of about 15 employees to support the customer pick-up and drop-off process as well as the service side of the business. My brother, Todd, manages our website programming and reservations systems and I brought on a marketing consultant last fall to manage our communications and social media. I am, however, the main point of contact for the business. I still prefer to communicate directly with my customers. Most of the time if you call OPV, I’ll be the person answering the phone to respond to your questions and scheduling your reservation or responding to your texts.
What does a typical day look like at work?
I’m in the office most mornings between 8:00-9:00 in the morning. I’m lucky that my wife manages getting the kids off to school, various activities as well as leads the little kids in their homeschooling. When I get to work, I walk around the facility, and greet my team. I make sure that we’re all set, pulling keys for the cars that will be going out that day as well as reviewing any services that are due to customer’s vehicles.
I look for ways to improve the OPV process. Was there a breakdown in communication or service? How can I work with my team to make any process more efficient? I also make it a point to encourage, build up, and thank different members of the staff at OPV on a daily basis. Too often, gratitude is overlooked, and I want my team to know I appreciate them as people as well as how they serve the OPV customer. The OPV team is the secret ingredient In doing what we do. When I mix the OPV staff with our terrific customers, something very special happens. I believe the reviews of OPV best display that.
As the owner, you’re in charge of everything. How do you keep those around you motivated – how do you keep up morale?
Without good people, we do not have a company. That is both from a team standpoint and the customers we serve. I have many people on my team who have worked for me for years, and the reason I believe they stay with OPV is by the example I set and the values I try to impart. It is easy to get caught in the whirlwind of the day to day but choosing to slow down, to say “thank you,” to show that my personal faith in God is the standard for the values I try to impart in how I interact with my team and with our customers such as being kind, caring, understanding, quick to listen and slow to speak is a huge morale booster. I’ll be first to admit that I am not always perfect, however; my people first mentality and desire to serve others has worked for me and sets a high standard. I do believe that it inspires the team to do the same. I also trust my team and provide the autonomy to let them do their work without hovering.
What’s on the horizon for your business? Future aspirations, plans….
The parent company O’Hare Personal Valet is growing. We recently added a black car/limo service, OPVLimo. Our car service is not just for airport runs, we will take you anywhere you want to go! Additionally, we have a car detail service, D1-Detailing that is growing as well!
*As a thank you for reading about O’Hare Personal Valet, Glenn is offering Lincoln Park Moms Moms $15 off of your next reservation. Just enter the NSM15 code at checkout to save!