Left to Right - Vicki Fisher (HHS Principal), Gary Ohrt (Alumnus of the Year), Gary Korsgaard (Alumni Foundation President)
Some words from Gary Ohrt, ’64, 2015 Alumnus of the Year
“I actually think Boy Scouts did more to impact my life than high school. I was not a great student, very average, but scouting taught me values and positive thinking where I believed I could achieve anything that I set my mind to. I enjoyed my years at Highline and had some great teachers, but did not have the best study habits so cannot think of any one thing that impacted my life from Highline. I was in Boy Scouts until I was 16 or 17 and was an Eagle Scout which inspired to do the best I could in everything I attempted.
When I was 28 years old, I was passed over for an office manager position at US Steel Supply where I worked for 10 years. I do not have a college education, so this was part of the problem and my age was the other part. I was too young in their thinking to handle the position. This made me think that if I wanted to be really successful, that I needed to have a business of my own. I became acquainted with two guys that were in the stainless steel business who lived in Canada and we started PAC Stainless Ltd in Seattle when I was 29. The next year we started PAC in Canada and both of the Canadians were my partners for the next 36 years. We had offices in Vancouver and Toronto in Canada and Seattle, Houston, Baton Rouge and Atlanta in the USA. We are one of the largest distributors of stainless steel tubing in the USA and Canada.
We sold PAC Stainless in September of 2012 and I continued working for PAC until April of 2015 when I retired from the day to day business. I am still one of the owners and Chairman of the Board, and work from home 10 to 15 hours per week for PAC. I have also been a real estate investor since I was 25 years old. I started out buying & building apartments and then moved to building industrial and commercial warehouses. I continue to build and lease warehouses in the Houston market. This keeps me very busy.
My wife Susan and I believe we have been very fortunate and blessed so we want the funds that we contribute to directly affect the local community. For this reason, we have chosen to support the Highline Hospital, local YMCA, local schools and other South End Charities.
At this stage in my life, my wife, children and grandchildren are my greatest joys.
When I started out in real estate, I met Vince Varacalli who was a local real estate agent and investor. I learned a lot from Mr. Varacalli, who unfortunately has passed away, but was a huge influence on me when I started. Duane Stober, who was a past President of the Highline Hospital Foundation, encouraged me to be philanthropic towards the Hospital and the YMCA. Susan and I made the decision to support these local charities because we felt so strongly that we wanted our gifts to stay locally and directly help family and friends as well as everyone in the community.
I feel very proud of starting PAC Stainless Ltd and building it into one of the largest distributors of stainless steel tubing in the USA. Starting out with just Susan and me the first year, and building it into 4 locations in the USA with 65 employees is a very good feeling”.