My father, Bob Brown

My dad had the strongest hands.

When my brother and I were kids, Dad used to keep us entertained by ripping the Cincinnati White Pages in two with his bare hands.

Testosterone used to run wild in our house. With two boys and a fun-loving dad squeezed under one roof, my mother was definitely outnumbered. We’d roughhouse together, us boys racing through my dad’s fingers and slipping away by the skin of our teeth. We knew that if he caught us in those iron hands, it was all over.

Even when I grew older and moved away to college, I knew that his hands were as strong as ever. Once, when I arrived home, I greeted him by lifting him up and putting him on my shoulders like a sack of potatoes. I felt so strong, so powerful. But no matter how strong I became, I could never compete with the strength of his hands.

I knew that those hands had wrested something from nothing, ever since childhood. His father died when he was young, so he and his family never had two nickels to rub together. Nevertheless, he was driven to make something of himself. It took him eight years to get an undergrad degree because he had to juggle schoolwork with a job. But when World War II hit, my Dad joined the Air Force as a navigator.

Through his own sweat, he eventually climbed the ladder to become president of the largest Savings & Loan in Wisconsin, worth over a billion dollars at that time. This was a tremendous accomplishment. He was on the board of 28 different firms, and incredibly involved in the community.

I wish that his strong hands had held on until my daughter was born so he could have met her. He passed away at age 67 from a heart attack, just a few months before she was born.

But those hands gave me the chance to start my professional life anew. I had been working in the financial services field for many years, and was doing well, but the travel was constant. Then one year my mom couldn’t make it to a shareholder’s meeting for one of the companies on which my dad had been a board member. Always the dutiful son, I sat in for her.

At the meeting, a shareholder mentioned that the company had a subsidiary in Michigan that sold sterilization monitors. He asked the CEO what he planned to do with it, and the CEO said that if he found the right buyer, he would sell the subsidiary.  I called the CEO that evening and offered to buy it. After some due diligence, the deal was completed, and I was the owner of a 100-year old company selling sterilization monitors.  All of the sudden, I was spending my nights and weekends marketing the product as a long-distance, absentee owner. Between managing the new company and working at my day job, I was busier than ever.

Then something tragic occurred that caused me to reconsider my priorities. My daughter passed away unexpectedly, which was a blow to me and to my entire family.

I felt ready to make some changes in my professional life. On the one-year anniversary of my daughter’s death, I turned in a letter of resignation to my financial services job and started managing the company fulltime.

Around the same time, someone who worked for a glove manufacturer called me and gave me the advice of a lifetime: I had all these connections to labs at colleges and universities, so why not sell them protective gloves as well?

And so, Gloves By Web began.

My father’s strong hands had finally come full circle. It takes 35 muscles to move the fingers and thumb, and my father had full control of all of them. My Dad had the strongest hands, and I grew up – and still am – in awe of just how strong they were. But strong hands are not necessarily safe hands. Workers in all sorts of industries – from medical research to manufacturing – need protective gloves to keep their hands safe. I am glad to be part of Gloves By Web, a company that distributes high-quality protective gloves to make sure that strong hands are safe hands.


Written by Rob Brown