Bike serves as reminder to never give up

June 16, 2002|by DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Robert Glessner has a favorite story he tells his employees about how nothing is impossible if you try hard enough.

It's the story of how his father didn't let the future founder and owner of Glessner Alarm & Communication Systems in Hagerstown give up, and pushed him to sell enough newspaper subscriptions to win a new bicycle when he was 11.

More than 50 years later, Glessner's original Schwinn Black Phantom is long gone.

But during a company picnic at the North Gate swimming pool on Saturday to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the company, Glessner's employees surprised him with a new Black Phantom.

"This is fantastic. It blows me away," said Glessner, 64.

The bike is a "symbol of what you can do," he said.

When Glessner was 11, he set out to sell 30 subscriptions to a Harrisburg, Pa., newspaper. Those who sold 30 subscriptions received a Black Phantom.


Glessner sold a few subscriptions his first day trying, but went home thinking he couldn't reach his goal.

But Glessner's father wouldn't let him give up, and the next day the two of them went door-to-door late into the night, eventually selling the 30 subscriptions, Glessner's son, Neal Glessner, said.

"It's a story he tells every time somebody says something is impossible," Neal Glessner said. "The employees have heard it dozens of times."

The message is that if you work hard enough you can overcome any obstacle, a motto that has become the foundation of the company, said the younger Glessner, who is company vice president.

To mark the company's 30 years in business, Glessner said he wanted to get his father "something referring to that story, that lesson." The bike was given to his dad the day before Father's Day.

Glessner found a Schwinn Black Phantom on eBay, and got the company's roughly 50 employees to help pay for the gift.

The bicycle, which he described as the '57 Chevy of bicycles, comes with a working headlight and taillight, and horn.

But it's more than just for riding.

"It symbolizes nothing is impossible," Robert Glessner said.

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