Rock Island company stays put despite political pull elsewhere
Hank Gray put his faith in political change, not geographical.
While news reports are filled with businesses abandoning Illinois for more tax-friendly states, Gray decided to keep his Gray Machine and Welding in Rock Island after the election of Bruce Rauner as governor.
“We would’ve gotten near to doing it if Rauner hadn’t come on the scene," Gray, who has owned his business for 45 years, told the Rock Island Today. "Thought we’d wait and see what he could get done."
Gray said he also didn’t want to uproot his staff.
“My biggest loyalty is to my employees,” Gray said. “A lot of them live south of here quite a ways. If we went over the river to Iowa they’d, be about doubling their mileage. Some of those employees have been with us 20 years or longer."
Although not happy with what has happened over the course of the past few years, Gray doesn't sit idly by hoping for change. He is regularly active in local elections.
“The primary thing is to get out the right votes, I guess; vote for the right people that makes the changes,” Gray said. “That’s the only way it’s going to get done.”
Gray said he hopes new Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms will help push the city in the right direction. He also believes that on the state level, progress needs to be done with regard to rezoning legislative districts.
“It’s just ridiculous how they’ve gerrymandered the districts,” Gray said.
Gray's company specializes in CNC production and welding, making machine parts for companies such as John Deere and Caterpillar.