A work ethic forged early in life led Greg Header ’97 to become a successful entrepreneur who recently made the largest alumni gift in Alvernia history.

By Claire Curry

The New York City skyline at night — illuminated with rooftop greenhouses, glass-enclosed restaurants, and private sunrooms and conservatories — provides a glimpse of the breadth of Solar Innovations’ extensive product portfolio. Under the leadership of Greg Header ’97, the firm has produced more than 30,000 glass structures worldwide, many in New York alone, during his 24-year tenure as president and CEO of the architectural glazing company.

Header took over the struggling business when he was finishing up his bachelor’s degree in management at Alvernia University, reorganizing and expanding it into a wildly profitable enterprise, with revenues exceeding $30 million. In 2022, Fortune Brands, a Fortune 500 company, acquired the firm in a deal that topped $60 million.

This wasn’t the entrepreneur’s first dive into the business world. An earlier venture originated in the quiet backcountry of rural Pennsylvania.

Growing up in the Bernville-Robesonia area of Berks County, Header was an avid hunter and fisherman. The eldest of five, he developed a solid work ethic early on as he held numerous jobs to help his family make ends meet. He even launched a leather business — all while going to school part time and working full time.

“I just started knocking on doors,” Header said. “I needed to pay the bills and I saw an opportunity and took it. And that’s really what entrepreneurship is. It’s recognizing your opportunities — the open doors — and then building them, using the resources around you … knowledge, space, and your own hard work and ability.”

By the time he was 23, he grew Header Trading Company into a multimillion-dollar international operation.

Throughout his career, Header founded and led four companies to success, all with sustainability at the forefront to protect the planet for future generations. He has more than 50 patents, which include high-end fishing reels, roof clamps and snow guards. Header discovered inspiration in many places, including, simply, need.

“There’s no greater motivator than having to pay the bills, right? A lot of what I’ve done is because I wanted a better life for my family,” he said.

He credits his education at Alvernia as being instrumental to his success.

“The ethical and the religious training and business classes all blend together to give you that holistic experience and a business approach to do things the right way, for the right reasons,” said Header, who received Alvernia’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2022.

It also encouraged Header and his wife, Stacey, to give back. Through the Header Family Foundation, the couple has supported numerous local charities and the thing about which they feel most passionately: education.

“Education is a big equalizer,” Header said. “It doesn’t matter how much money you have. Once you have it, it never goes away and you can keep building upon it.”

Header School of Business

Photo: Greg Header '97, center, and his family celebrate the naming of the Header School of Business at a ceremony at the John R. Post Center at Reading CollegeTowne in April 2023.

In early 2023, the couple made the largest alumni gift in Alvernia’s history to fund an endowed scholarship in support of educating business leaders for generations to come. The Header School of Business will carry forward its namesake’s ideals and prepare students to embrace business as a mechanism to do much more than turn a profit.

Travis Berger, Ph.D., dean of the College of Business, Communication, and Leadership, said that Header’s impact on Alvernia extends far beyond financial support.

“He is a source of inspiration and motivation for our students who can look to Greg and see what is possible with dedication and hard work,” he explained. “The Greg Header story exemplifies the American Dream and embodies true grit. Through sheer determination, perseverance, teamwork, principled leadership and an unshakable work ethic, he built successful businesses that serve as a testament to getting the right results, the right way. I am so proud that he serves as the namesake of our business school.”

Header is preparing to start his next chapter, winding down his time at Solar Innovations, where he now serves as vice president of R&D and innovation. He looks forward to traveling, spending more time with his wife and two daughters, and overseeing a new venture, Escapes LLC. This involves managing land around the country to tap natural resources such as timber, wind power and crops — a natural segue for this serial entrepreneur and passionate environmentalist.