Serial entrepreneur and distinguished alumnus Greg Header ‘97 prevails despite setbacks
When Greg Header graduated high school in 1987, he planned to pursue a traditional undergraduate education, but family challenges and other circumstances altered those plans.
He entered the workforce and managed a business for someone else, but then decided to start his own hide and leather trading business, Header Trading Company, while taking college courses.
“My plans changed again when I was diagnosed with Lyme disease at age 25, which required me to scale back my work schedule while I recovered,” said Header. “This setback, however, gave me the opportunity to focus on my education, and I transferred to Alvernia to complete my business degree.”
Even as a commuter and a nontraditional student, Header found himself spending a great deal of time on campus. He became inspired by his business courses and the experiences of his professors who also affirmed his passion for entrepreneurship. He added that his ethics and theology courses challenged him to strengthen his faith and hold himself and his companies to a higher standard of integrity.
By the time he graduated at age 27, he founded Solar Innovations, a premier architectural glazing system company recently acquired by a Fortune 500 company, with five team members.
“Alvernia is guided by the Franciscan ideal of ‘knowledge joined with love.’ In 2005, my knowledge of entrepreneurship and manufacturing joined my love of the outdoors when a local fishing reel company moved its operations overseas,” said Header. “I partnered with some of its former employees to found IRT Reels, which offers anglers from around the world a more ethically sourced, American-made spinning reel.”
Along with being CEO and Owner of IRT Reels, he currently serves as the Vice President of R&D and Innovations for Fortune Brands Home & Security; CEO and Owner of Universal Clamps, manufacturer of aluminum roof clamps and snow guards; and CEO and Owner of Header Trading Companies which has grown to be a multi-million-dollar operation exporting hides to Mexico, China and other international markets.
“In many ways, this is what Alvernia has prepared me and countless other graduates for: to take the opportunities and resources you’ve been given and leave things better than how you found them,” said Header. “I’m able to look at the past 25 years and know that these companies have made a difference.”
For his commitment to innovation, entrepreneurship, the community, and Alvernia’s core Franciscan values, Header became the 2022 recipient of Alvernia University’s Distinguished Alumni award at the 2022 Annual President’s Dinner.
“Greg is an accomplished business professional, entrepreneur, innovator, and community leader with a proven track record in manufacturing, product development, operational excellence, and business strategy,” said Alvernia Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Thomas Minick.
Header currently serves on the CEO Forum Advisory Committee for the Manufacturers Resource Center and the STC Advisory Board and is a former board member of the Penn State Schuylkill Campus. He emulates Franciscan ideals and instills them as part of his business practices and lives them in his daily life. He has served as an advocate for Alvernia since graduation and has hired numerous Alvernia graduates.
“In the years ahead, I know that the knowledge and faith fostered here at Alvernia will guide my path forward,” said Header. I’m immensely grateful to this school for the ways it has shaped me, as it will continue to shape thousands of passionate young leaders.”