Meet Diane Reko, a proud Canadian of Hungarian heritage. She is the CEO of Reko International Group, a diversified, technology-driven manufacturing organization. Diane is a wife and mother, a University of Windsor graduate, and a Director for the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation. Diane was a former Director of Hiatus House and is a member of the Chief Executive Network. When reflecting on her family's immigration story this is what she had to say:
"My father, Steve Reko, was born in a small village in Hungary and was one of 7 children. He left Hungary after the revolution and made his way to a Red Cross camp in Austria. Here, there were various nations interviewing people who wanted to enter their country. At the Canadian group, a woman asked my father (through a translator) what his skills were. When my dad told her his skills, she said "you are exactly what Canada needs." My father took what she said to heart and felt a responsibility to live up to her words. My dad believed that if Canada was going to take him in then he needed to give back to his new country and home.
My dad was proud to be Hungarian and to be Canadian. When he first arrived in Canada he did not speak the language; however, this did not stop him as he would always educate himself. My dad did crossword puzzles and would have a dictionary beside him at all times. This way when he came across a word that he did not recognize he would look it up in order to understand its meaning and expand his English vocabulary.
My dad initially worked as a farm-hand in Canada, although he was a trained machinist. He eventually found his way to a machine shop and worked at International Tools, which employed many immigrants. Applying his experience as a machinist, and being a natural entrepreneur, my dad started Reko in 1976, with the goal of always servicing the customer. He constantly felt the need to give people meaningful work and give back to the community. He taught us that everyone deserves respect, regardless of where they come from, what they do, or their accent. During this time, my father continued to financially help his family in Hungary.
Growing up, I witnessed my dad's hard work and kindness. At a young age I was doing payroll and bookkeeping for Reko; however, I never saw myself working in the business forever, as I wanted to run my own travel agency. At my post-graduation dinner my dad suggested that I work at Reko full-time. My father was a huge mentor to me and he must have believed that I could pull it off. For as traditional as my father was (having all daughters) he always told us that we could do whatever we wanted in life and we should work towards financial independence.
My dad taught me the value of respecting people's difference, the value of hard work, and the importance of family. My dad was also a big proponent of Windsor-Essex. He believed that it is Canada's best kept secret-- the people are genuine, hardworking, and there's lots of innovation. My dad's fulfillment of the Canadian dream-- where he came here with nothing and built a business that has 50 million in sales, employs over 200 staff and has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to community initiatives, inspires me every day. To this day, I still tear up when I hear the Canadian national anthem, as Canada has done so much for me, my family and our business.