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Peter and Olaf Harken Inducted into Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame

To us at the headquarters in Pewaukee, it’s like the story of Paul Revere’s ride or of Washington crossing the Delaware—it’s our Genesis: A student at the University of Wisconsin working in a medical equipment lab drops a ball bearing ball. It bounces. It bounces quickly and very high. The student recognizes something perhaps nobody else ever would. He slides that ball and several of its friends into a sailing block he happens to also be working on. He shows his brother who also sees the potential. They start a small business. They work hard. They have fun. They have comical experiences by the hundreds. They create a high-performance, low-friction ethos that starts with their incredible products and then infuses a culture. That culture attracts a bunch of hard-working, trusted people and grows the business into the international company we all know as Harken.


On June 2, 2022 those two men who changed the sailing world, employed thousands all over the world, and did so with a machine that still sells beer for 50¢ in their front lobby, were honored by being inducted into the Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame. Peter Harken, joined by Ruth Harken who represented her husband Olaf Harken who has passed away, accepted the award from the Wisconsin chapter of Junior Achievement in Milwaukee.


To many the story was new. It was carried on the TV news, you can watch it here: https://youtu.be/2FzIWwMGjOo. But to those who have lived and continue to live it, the story that began at Gilson Medical Electronics is one of the greatest stories ever told. We’re proud of it, and we’re very proud to see Olaf and Peter honored in this way. To us, there will never be enough honors—some of us even think Peter looks good in his Tuxedo.