Daniel R. Gernatt, Sr.

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Daniel R. Gernatt, Sr.
Daniel R. Gernatt, Sr., 2007.jpg
Gernatt at Diocese of Buffalo Catholic Education Awards Dinner, 2007
Born February 7, 1917
Collins, New York, United States
Died May 5, 2014(2014-05-05) (aged 97)
Collins, New York, United States
Occupation Chairman, Gernatt Family of Companies; Co-Founder, Dan Gernatt Farms
Religion Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Flavia C. (Schmitz) Gernatt
Children Daniel R. Gernatt, Jr.; Patricia Rebmann; Phyllis Ulmer

Daniel R. "Dan" Gernatt, Sr. (February 7, 1917 – May 5, 2014) was an American entrepreneur, businessman, horseman, and dairy farmer. A lifelong resident of Collins, New York, Gernatt's first venture was raising and selling turkeys as a 4-H project. Gernatt and his wife, Flavia, began a farming enterprise that included raising dairy cows and, later, breeding and racing standardbred horses. Their dairy farm, Dan Gernatt Farms, was the largest in Western New York State in the 1950s; and their horse business raised and sold more than 1,000 horses by the mid-1980s. Among the Gernatts' harness racing horses were those that were bred on their farm, being identified with the last name 'Collins.'

Beginning in the 1940s, they began marketing sand and gravel from their property, leading to their establishment and ownership of several mining businesses, now known as the Gernatt Family of Companies. Included in the 11 businesses of the Gernatt Family of Companies are the main enterprises, Gernatt Asphalt Products, Inc.; Dan Gernatt Gravel Products; and Country Side Sand and Gravel, all located in Western New York. The companies were the first in Western New York to integrate money-saving techniques that were environmentally-friendly in the production and paving of low emission asphalt.

Gernatt was a donor and supporter of his church and school, both part of St. Joseph Parish; and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. He was recognized for his contributions and service with a number of awards. Gernatt died in 2014 at the age of 97.

Background and early life[edit]

Gernatt[1] was born and raised in Collins, New York, having lived there for his entire life.[2] He was one of 10 children,[2] born to John and Martha Gernatt.[3][4] Being raised on a farm, Gernatt was knowledgeable about farm animals and was a member of 4-H.[2][5] For a 4-H project at the age of 17, Gernatt raised and sold turkeys, finding that he was successful in this early entrepreneurship venture.[2][5] Gernatt was also a member of St. Joseph Parish in Gowanda, New York, having attended the school there for several years in his youth.[6]

Career[edit]

Dan Gernatt Farms[edit]

Dairy cows

Dairy farming[edit]

Gernatt married Flavia C. Schmitz in 1938, and they began Dan Gernatt Dairy Farms in 1938.[6][7] In the 1950s, the couple was identified as having the largest milking dairy herd in Erie County.[2][6][7] As the Gernatts' farming business expanded, it was later simply known as Dan Gernatt Farms.[8][9]

Horse breeding and harness racing[edit]

A standardbred horse

Gernatt and his horses were known, especially throughout New York State,[10] New Jersey, and Ontario, Canada.[11][12] During a golfing vacation to Pinehurst, North Carolina in 1962, Gernatt bought a half-interest in Lieutenant Gray for $2,750.[13] The horse's good racing performance caused Gernatt to purchase brood mares with foals shortly thereafter, thus beginning the Gernatts' horse breeding and racing ventures.[13] Gernatt established himself in horse breeding and harness racing throughout a period of three decades.[6][7][14]

In the 1970s and 1980s, Gernatt was active in the New York horse breeding program.[11][15] In 1984, the horse business included "250 mares, stallions, young stock and race horses; a training facility on Mile Strip Road in the Town of Brant; a broodmare barn in North Collins; a second farm in the town of Dayton;" and stallion barns in Collins.[13] At that time, Gernatt had sold more than 1,000 standardbred horses with the last name, 'Collins,' so dubbed for the town in which they were born.[6][7][11][12][13][15][16][17] Those who worked with Gernatt in his endeavors at that time included his grandson, Russell Rebmann, partnering in overseeing operations; Chuck Scibetta, who trained the horses; and Dave Vance, who was the driver at various horse racing tracks in the northeastern United States and Canada.[13]

In a 1984 Buffalo News article written by Harlan C. Abbey, Gernatt is quoted, stating about his horse breeding interests:

You can't keep every horse you think will be a good trotter or pacer for your own stable. If you sell horses, you have to be pleased when they win for other owners. And you have to keep upgrading your stock...I like to keep the first foal of any mare in our racing stable. That way it'll get the best care we know how to give it, the best training. Then, if it doesn't turn out to be a good race horse, maybe we'll sell the mare...I get partial to a filly every once in awhile that we keep for the broodmare band.[13]

Particularly in the New York Sires Stakes circuit,[10] the Gernatts' broodmare herd produced champions such as Gallo Blue Chip, with $4.2 million in total winnings;[16] Bye Tsem (formerly known as Holden S. Collins)[14]($515,194), Vernon Blue Chip ($542,816), and Roz T. Collins ($410,653) were the top trotters.[16] In 2000, Gallo Blue Chip won the Meadowlands Pace horse race at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey with a time of 1:50.4.[18] In 2005, Gallo Blue Chip retired "as the sport's leading money winning pacer."[11][15] In 1994, Bye Tsem raced in the second division of the Hambletonian Stakes.[19] In 1982, Roz T. Collins placed third in the Hambletonian Stakes at the Meadowlands Racetrack.[8][13] Among some of the additional tracks at which Gernatt's horses raced were the Buffalo Raceway, Syracuse Mile, Vernon Downs, Pompano, Greenwood Raceway in Toronto, and Brandywine in Yonkers.[13][20][21]

Gernatt was Sir Taurus'[22][23][24][25][26][27] co-breeder,[28][29] and stood him as stud[30] for four years before he went to Blue Chip Farms in 1992.[11][15] As of 1989, Sir Taurus' winnings were $484,810, after racing for only two years in 1986 and 1987.[20][28][29][31] Sir Taurus was co-holder of a world record for three-year-old colt trotters on a half-mile track with a time of 1:57.2h;[20] and had set at least 10 track records throughout New York State at that time.[20] Sir Taurus' trainer and driver was Jimmy Takter.[28] An easygoing horse with a gentle nature, Sir Taurus turned 30 in 2014 and remains at Blue Chip Farms, now retired, providing school children and scouts with opportunities to visit him.[11][15][28][29] Of Sir Taurus' nearly 700 offspring, Approved Action earned the most in winnings with $715,676.[28][29] Sir Taurus' offspring have earned $23.7 million in combined winnings.[28][29] Of all offspring of Sir Taurus (with Amanda T. Collins, a daughter of Texas), Red Hot Blue Chip sold for the most money at $52,000 in 1999.[32] The Yonkers Raceway annually holds the Sir Taurus Trot for Standardbred harness racing.[33]

The Gernatts also sponsored the privately-held $100,000 Elitist Cup from 1987 to 1992.[9][13][21][34] The races were to benefit those horses sired by Elitist when he was held as stud by Dan Gernatt Farms.[9][21] Elitist was another stallion owned by the Gernatts, producing some top race times that included 1:56.1; 1:55.3; and 1:54.3.[21] In only two years of racing in the late 1980s, Elitist won $249,363.[13] Elitist was sire to several of the Gernatts' horses, including Walt Collins (1:56.3); Tru Elitist (1:55.4); and Bonny Brook Elitist (1:56.1).[21] Elitist's foals were also eligible to be included in the $12 million New York Sires Program at that time.[21]

There were other notable horses that the Gernatts owned, as well. Adios Bob earned $330,364 in five years of racing.[13] Texas was a stallion that stood as stud for Gernatt, being syndicated for $1 million.[13] Inflation Collins, Jolly Roger, Dallas T. Collins, Most Happy Fella,[35] What Wheel, and Lotto S. Collins (1:55.4) ($273,055)[36] were also popular horses of Gernatts'.[13][14][37]

Gernatt Family of Companies[edit]

Gernatt Gravel Pit, Collins, New York, June 1996

With his wife, Gernatt cofounded the Gernatt Family of Companies, now a group of 11 mining companies, headquartered in Collins, New York in 1946.[5][7][38][39][40][41] Gernatt began the mining venture from his property in Collins by hauling gravel for a corporate entity.[40]

The corporate businesses include Dan Gernatt Gravel Products, Inc.;[42][43][44] Gernatt Asphalt Products, Inc.;[45] and Country Side Sand and Gravel, Inc.,[46] with headquarters at Taylor Hollow Road in Collins, New York.[6][38][39][46][47] Other businesses are in Gowanda, Freedom, Irving, Great Valley, Springville, Chaffee, West Seneca, Delevan, South Dayton, and Westfield, all in the New York State counties of Erie, Cattaraugus, and Chautauqua.[38][42][46][48][49][50][51][52] The companies have been doing business in New York State for nearly 60 years.[39][53]

The companies do business on 100s of acres; employ more than 200 people; and use dozens of cement and semi-trucks to haul materials.[5][40][41] Marketed by the companies are various aggregates and materials, including hot mix asphalt, asphalt millings, crushed stone, coarse aggregates, fine aggregates (sand), subbases, landscape rocks, and cold patch material.[38][39][47][48][54][55][56][57][58]

Gernatt Asphalt Products, Inc. was the sixth-largest sand and gravel mine operator in New York State in 2008 with 450 permitted acres.[59] In 2008, Country Side Sand and Gravel, Inc. was the second-largest sand and gravel mine in New York State with 236 permitted acres.[60] Country Side Sand and Gravel, Inc., in Dayton, New York, occupies 625 acres.[59] Gernatt Asphalt Products, Inc. modified its mining permit in 2008, affecting 175 acres.[59] The companies were New York State's largest aggregate supplier of sand and gravel approved by the state in 2009.[47]

In 2009, the companies were successful in integrating cost-reducing and energy-saving green environmental technology in asphalt production and paving with low emission asphalt (LEA); the companies were the first to do so in Western New York State and were recognized for it with an award from the New York Construction Materials Association.[61][62]

Daniel and Flavia Gernatt Family Foundation[edit]

Background and trustees[edit]

In 1987, Gernatt and his wife established the Daniel and Flavia Gernatt Family Foundation, also known as the Gernatt Family Foundation,[7] a non-profit, non-operating private foundation with 501(c)(3) status.[63][64][65] in Collins, New York.[66][67][68][69][70][71][72][73][74] The foundation has been rated as mid-sized.[71] It provides charitable and private financial assistance to organizations and entities in Western New York State, mostly in the areas of education, healthcare, Christian-related endeavors,[65] and toward the elimination of poverty, particularly for those in need and those who are homeless.[63][75] The former principal manager and trustee of the foundation was Daniel R. Gernatt, Sr.[63][70] Additional trustees are members of his family,[63] including Daniel R. Gernatt, Jr. (son),[7] Patricia Rebmann (daughter),[7] Phyllis Ulmer (daughter),[7] and Cynthia (Rebmann) Peglowski (granddaughter).[63] Rebmann is also caretaker of the books.[63]

Loans, donations, and grants[edit]

The foundation regularly provides loans, donations, and/or grants to charitable organizations and private entities.[63][76] In 1996, the foundation provided a loan in an undisclosed amount to the Amish Valley View Cheese Cooperative Association in Conewango, New York, to help it "regain control of the plant it helped establish in 1960."[76] The loan to the plant benefited 125 farmers, all but four of whom were Amish.[76] The loan helped the plant transport milk to Newberg Cheese Company in Wisconsin and other locations, including Texas and, formerly Ohio, so that Muenster cheese can be made there.[76][77] Gernatt financed more than $800,000 for the Amish purchase and rehabilitation of the plant.[77] These actions are credited with helping the Amish re-establish a market for their milk.[77][78]

In 2004, the family's foundation and companies donated $150,000 to TLC Health Network's $1 million campaign to make renovations to and update diagnostic imaging equipment at hospitals in Gowanda and Irving, New York.[79] The donation was identified as a "jump start" to the health network's capital campaign drive.[79]

Among the Western New York organizations that received charitable financial assistance from the foundation in 2007 were Hilbert College; St. Joseph School; Love, Inc.; Catholic Charities of Buffalo; Healthy Community Alliance; Tri-County Crisis Pregnancy Center; St. Vincent de Paul Society; TLC Health Network; Bertrand Chaffee Hospital; St. Luke's Mission of Mercy; St. Paul's United Methodist Church; and Kwik Fill of Gowanda, New York.[63]

Among institutions and/or organizations that received grants from the foundation in 2009 was Hilbert College.[80] In 2010, receiving donations from the foundation were the Sister Mary Josette Food Pantry through Villa Maria College;[81] and Hilbert College.[82] In 2011, Catholic Charities of Buffalo;[69][83] and Christ the King Seminary[84] received donations from the foundation. Catholic Charities of Buffalo and Western New York has regularly received donations from the foundation.[63][69][83] Organizations and institutions within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo have regularly been the recipient of the greatest amount of donations from the foundation.[63][69][80][81][83][84]

Endowments and assets[edit]

Annual endowments provided by the foundation have ranged from $100s to about $25,000 per organization or institution.[63] Annually from 2003 to 2008, total endowments from the foundation ranged from approximately $120,000-$140,000.[63] In 2011, the Foundation issued $112,000 in grants and donations.[68][69] As of 2008, the total assets of the foundation were $2,900,000.[63] Total foundation assets were reported at $2,900,000 in 2012,[68][85] with $148,500 being dispersed.[85]

Gernatt Family Endowment Fund for St. Joseph School[edit]

Gernatt later created the Gernatt Family Endowment Fund for St. Joseph School in Gowanda in 1996.[6][67] This endowment was made to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, specifically to help provide the opportunity for students to attend the school who, due to financial circumstances, would not otherwise be able to do so.[6][67] The school has served the community of Gowanda and surrounding areas for nearly 90 years.[86][87] Due to low enrollment, the school is to close in 2014.[88]

Support for St. Joseph Parish and Buffalo Diocese[edit]

Dan Gernatt, Sr. with two parishioners at St. Joseph Church, 2006

Gernatt and his wife donated the construction of a new rectory to St. Joseph Parish in Gowanda in 1992.[87][85] Construction of the new rectory was completed within one year.[87][85] The new rectory was built because the former building was deteriorating and in disrepair.[87][85] Gernatt established a scholarship in the name of his family that was annually awarded to an eighth grade student at St. Joseph School.[89] Gernatt also supplied the church with employees from his companies who regularly completed landscaping on the property.

Gernatt was also a significant benefactor to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.[6][7][42][87][85][89][90][91] He regularly donated to Catholic Charities of Buffalo and Western New York;[90] and he gave monies to Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora.[91]

Honors[edit]

In 1991, Gernatt was named the Citizen of the Year award winner in Gowanda by the Gowanda Chamber of Commerce.[40] In 2001, Gernatt received the DeWitt Clinton Masonic Award.[41] From the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo in 2007, Gernatt received the Bishop's Medal.[6][92] From St. Joseph Parish in 2009, he received the Fidelis Service Award in recognition of his service and contributions to the parish.[93]

Memberships[edit]

Gernatt was a member and trustee of St. Joseph Parish in Gowanda, a parish in which he was a member for his entire life.[2][6] He was also a member of trotting associations in the United States;[2][11][12][15][16] director of the New York State Dairy Council;[2] and advisory board member of HSBC.[2] Gernatt was a former president of the Gowanda Chamber of Commerce;[2] held a membership at the Gowanda Country Club;[2][13] and was also a former member of 4-H.[2] Further, he was a member of the Holy Name Society at his church, as well as a member of both the Gowanda Moose and Slovenian Clubs.[94]

Personal life[edit]

Gernatt has a son, and two daughters, Patricia Rebmann and Phyllis Ulmer.[2][3][4] Gernatt's son, Daniel R. Gernatt, Jr., is currently the chief executive officer of the Gernatt Family of Companies.[2][3][4][38][40] Gernatt died in 2014 following a short illness.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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