(L-R): Eagle Power & Equipment Founder Gerald L. “Jerry” McDonald, and his children, who work at the company, Matt McDonald and Bridget McDonald.
Eagle Power & Equipment founder Gerald L. “Jerry” McDonald, passed away on Aug. 22, 2015, at the age of 71.
Mr. McDonald was one of the original employees of Case Power & Equipment in Montgomeryville, Pa., when he was hired in March 1970 to be the company’s controller. He had no knowledge of the industry at that time, but he learned very quickly and within a year he moved into a more equipment-specific role as equipment manager.
He continued working for Case Power & Equipment until 1974, when he was promoted to zone business analyst for Case corporate. In 1975, he relocated to Atlanta to become zone manager of the southern part of the United States and the Southwest.
He moved to Detroit in 1977 and bought out an existing Case dealer for Case Company, becoming the general manager of that store. Between 1975 and 1984, Mr. McDonald worked with every retail store Case had in North America, including ones in Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Mr. McDonald returned to the Philadelphia area in 1982, becoming general manager of the Montgomeryville, Pa. store.
In the early 1990s, Case began selling its retail stores to private capital and on Sept. 26, 1996, Mr. McDonald purchased the store he began his career with and renamed it Eagle Power & Equipment, with branches in Eagle, Pa., and New Castle, Del.
Two of his children — Matt and Bridget — are involved in the family business today. Matt McDonald has been with Eagle Power & Equipment since the day his father founded it in 1996 and currently is the company’s president and CEO. Bridget McDonald joined her father’s business in 1997 and is the company’s vice president.
“My dad was a very fair person,” said Matt McDonald. “He treated everyone very well and respected them. He was proud of this organization. He was always there for employees, whether it was about work-related issues or if someone was dealing with personal problems, such as a death in the family. He cared very much for people.”
Employees felt the same way about Mr. McDonald.
“The staff definitely had a respect for my dad,” Bridget McDonald said. “He was a very understanding man; he just wasn’t like a typical boss, a pencil-pushing boss. He was really involved in everyone’s lives; he was genuinely interested in people’s families and their friends. He enjoyed everyone who has worked for Eagle Power & Equipment. ”
Mr. McDonald’s respect and concern extended to his customers, as well.
“I’ve been very overwhelmed by the number of customers who have come in and said how caring, giving and patient he was,” Bridget said. “Some of them even told us how grateful they were to our father because they felt that they wouldn’t be in business today without him playing a role when their businesses were just starting out … that he was there to help in any way possible to help them be successful, as well, and that they were thankful for that.”
Mr. McDonald will be greatly missed by his employees, customers and friends, but especially by his family.
“I got to work for my hero,” Matt McDonald said. “My father embodied everything I have wanted to be in my life, professionally and personally.”
In his personal time, Mr. McDonald loved spending time with his family especially his five grandchildren, whom both Matt and Bridget said meant the world to him. He also loved decorating and working in the garden and restoring old furniture.
Mr. McDonald is survived by his loving wife, Nancy (nee Campbell), and his children Matthew G. (Rebecca), Bridget, and Megan Dougherty (David). He was the beloved Pop Pop of Hayden, Morgan, Jack, Luke and Joe. He was the brother of Anne Boyle (the late William), Jack (the late Sharon), and the late C.S.M. James McDonald (survived by his wife Judith) and brother-in-law of Margaret Fretz and Mary Gee (James).
A Mass of Christian Burial was held Aug. 28 at St. Alphonsus Church in Maple Glen, Pa. Interment was at St. John Neumann Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the Sturge-Weber Foundation, P.O. Box 418, Mt. Freedom, N.J. 07970-0418 or to Abington Hospice at Warminster, 225 Newtown Rd., Warminster, Pa., 18974 would be appreciated.