Gigler was just four years old when his father founded a funeral home outside of Pittsburgh in 1959. Next door, in a small shopping center, the Hrivnaks owned Handi Food Mart, a small grocery store that they had saved up to start after years of working for big grocery chains.
“They were just this hard-working Catholic couple who went to the same church as we did,” recalled Gigler fondly. “But they didn’t have kids; they couldn’t have them, so they kind of adopted me.”
As a young boy, he remembers collecting pop bottles for them, and later, stocking store shelves. After John taught him how to drive, he delivered groceries all through high school — and worked at the store after he’d returned home from earning his MBA at University of Dallas in 1980.
“They were classic American entrepreneurs, with integrity and morals,” said Gigler. “They worked day and night. Babe ran the front of the store, and John was the butcher and bought the produce. They were humble people with the most incredible sense of generosity.”
It was this sense of generosity that inspired Joe and his wife, Carol, to commit over $400,000 to support the John and Elizabeth “Babe” Hrivnak Memorial Endowed Scholarship for MBA students in UD’s Gupta College of Business.
“The Hrivnaks gave me a wonderful opportunity to learn business from the inside,” said Gigler. “But I realized I needed to get some business education — and UD was perfect.”
“Even though I had helped the Hrivnaks all those years, including running an ice cream shop that they owned at one point, I really didn’t know a debit from a credit, or how to read a financial statement,” recalled Gigler. “Getting my MBA at UD gave me the foundation in business I needed to take the next step in my career.”
Soon after graduating from UD, Gigler began a successful career working for a finance and insurance company. In 1983, he was tapped by the company’s owner to turn around a struggling business based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“It was a great experience, and we were turning the company around,” recalled Gigler, “but then he fired me.” That was in 1986. “I’m fortunate that he did fire me, because if he hadn’t, I wouldn’t have started the business I have today.”
Gigler founded MetroTech Automotive in 1987. The Charlotte-based company has since grown to include MetroTech Chemicals Inc. and MetroTech Detail Services Inc. businesses, and now serves over a thousand automotive dealerships across the country.
Joe and Carol now support a number of causes they are passionate about, including St. Joseph Catholic Seminary, in Belmont, North Carolina, and Catholic education, both of which they see as essential to strengthening the future of the Church.
“UD is a Catholic university that is rooted in values that are important to us,” said Gigler when asked why they chose the UD Gupta College of Business’s MBA program as the focus of their gift. “Your reputation is all you have, and that principle of integrity has guided every decision I’ve made as a leader.”
“Joe and Carol’s generosity in the creation of this scholarship amplifies a strong work ethic along with a spirit of ‘paying it forward’ demonstrated by John and Elizabeth Hrivnak,” said College of Business Dean Brett Landry. “Similarly, this scholarship will pay it forward for current and future generations of MBA students and honor the legacy of the Hrivnaks.”
That legacy is one of personal and professional inspiration. “John and Babe were terrific role models for me,” said Gigler. “The Hrivnaks taught me hard work, values, and ethics. Establishing this scholarship in their name is the perfect way to honor their impact on my life.”
To invest in any of our endowed scholarships, please visit our existing endowed scholarships page. To create your own endowed scholarship, please contact Kris Muñoz Vetter, Assistant Vice President for Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 214-621-3449.