Meet Josh Gershonowicz, the 34 year-old native of Detroit and CEO of Rebuild Group, which is poised to rebuild business in the digital age.
Featured photo by John Hardwick
Josh Gershonowicz looks out at the world through sky blue eyes and sees the vast opportunities in Detroit, the city he is proud to call home. At 34, he sits at the helm of a nimble young company he founded seven years ago now poised to envision, create, launch and rebuild business in the digital age.
“We’re well prepared for rapid growth,” he says. “And I look for colleagues and employees who are ready, willing and able to grow with us. Work hard, have fun. That’s our motto. At Rebuild Group, we aim to foster a company culture that’s inclusive, creative, entrepreneurial, encouraging … and yes, dog-friendly. As a result, I know we’ve surrounded ourselves with some really great people.”
The Rebuild culture and strategy focuses on “right-brain thinking.” It taps into emotional experiences to build brands and motivate shoppers to buy.
New Digs for Rebuild
“Rebuild was born in the suburbs, but our soul is pure Detroit,” Gershonowicz explains. Having relocated his company from Royal Oak to the city’s New Center neighborhood in 2014, Rebuild now has new 10,000-square-foot headquarters in the nearby Milwaukee Junction District, what Josh calls the Idea Studio.
Rebuild renovated the two-story building, which will include a retail tenant on the first floor.
Paying homage to the building’s history, he reclaimed original equipment from the building to incorporate in the new space. Vintage elevator doors separate the lobby from the work space and serve as a central gathering table. Metal cages from the elevator shaft are being converted into art installations.
The new space will take a hybrid, floating work model, allowing team members to work in any space, which he believes will aid the creative process.
“We don’t want to be just another local agency. Our vision is larger than growing our agency. We are rooted and invested in the city with the goal to become an anchor, rebuilding a neighborhood and creating jobs.,” he said.
Josh is equally committed to community building. A participant in Federation’s Cuba Mission (2015) and Young Leaders and Philanthropists Mission (2016), he serves on Federation’s National Young Leadership Cabinet and on the boards of Hebrew Free Loan, Midtown Detroit and Dodge for Detroit.
A resident of the city since moving home from New York in 2011, Josh was among the first wave of NEXTGen Detroiters to take up residency in Moishe House Downtown. He and his wife, Michele, now enjoy city life as new homeowners on Winder Street. Keeping busy on the home front, they are the proud parents of Sonny, age 1.
Gershonowicz grew up in Jewish Detroit and then went to Western Michigan University, where he graduated with a B.B.A. in marketing and economics.
After graduation, he spent about a year and a half in Tampa, Fla., working as a commodities trader and then went on to New York to do the “same kind of work, unfortunately, at the worst possible time, in 2008, just as Lehman Brothers was about to collapse,” he said
His job offer was rescinded, so he started moonlighting at anything he could find.
At 24, he was ready to come home. “I started moonlighting again, helping my dad with his dental practice. In 2012, I decided to start growing and investing in my own business and set out as Rebuild Nation with one employee. In 2014, I convinced Steve DeAngelis to quit his job at McCann Detroit and become my partner. He took the leap, and we’ve been on the fast track together ever since.”
He was able to hire Steve thanks to Hebrew Free Loan’s Marvin A. Danto Small Business Program.
“The connections I made through HFL have proven to be invaluable,” he said.
Gershonowicz said he loves the creative aspect of marketing.
“There’s the creativity of solving problems for our clients, and there’s also the creativity involved in teamwork, putting people together. Our business is collaborative, and we believe it reflects what’s happening all around our city. Our energies are focused on Detroit, and we’re very motivated by all signs of rebuilding in the city in general. In brainstorming ideas for our clients, you’ll find our teams working all over town — riding the QLine, sitting in Kresge Court at the DIA, walking along the Riverfront. The whole city is our canvas and we celebrate that.”
“I love the energy of living in the city,” he said.
“What’s happening Downtown is amazing. It feels like the wheels are turning and we’re starting to get some traction.”
He said he and Michele are happy to be part of a growing core of Jewish families living Downtown, expanding what it means to be a part of a vibrant and diverse Jewish community.
This story first appeared on myjewishdetroit.org.