Racing into the Future
Photo by Jon Keeling
Besides founding GBS, the successful IT company based in Newport, Kentucky, Gaby Batshoun has never run out of passion projects to dedicate himself to, whether it is at home or in the community. Cars have been one of those passions ever since Batshoun was a kid in Jordan tinkering in his father’s repair shop. “I’ve always been mechanically inclined,” Batshoun says. “I was changing brakes, fixing cars, and my dad would let me work on anything, because he knew I could learn.”
Batshoun says his father had an entrepreneurial spirit that was contagious, and after selling the shop in Jordan, he began opening factories in Morocco. As a teenager in Morocco, Batshoun owned a Solex, or as he describes it, “a bicycle with a 45cc motor in the front.” A young Batshoun took apart the Solex and installed a bigger motor, of course. “I’ve always loved to build things, and both my mom and dad encouraged it from the start,” he says.
After coming to the U.S. to study engineering at NKU and building an IT business from scratch, Batshoun’s passion for cars has not fizzled out. Most treasured is his 1965 Shelby replica that he built from the engine block-up. His racing hobby, however, began with a Mini Cooper that he began driving in the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America). “But that wasn’t enough for me,” Batshoun says. “I wanted to race on a higher level, so I purchased an older BMW 3 Series and set it up for door-to-door racing on the track with NASA (National Auto Sport Association).”
Forever grateful for the success they have achieved, Batshoun and his wife, Jennifer, dedicate much of their time to local students who are interested in engineering. Batshoun coaches a robotics club at Covington Catholic High School and serves on the school’s STEM committee, which has already created four new STEM courses for its students.
His involvement with schools started when his own kids were in grade school at Saint Joseph’s, and he coached their robotics team with the help of his wife, Jennifer. “After the kids we were coaching finished grade school,” Batshoun says, “We got them to judge and referee the FLL tournament,” a robotics competition created to get kids excited about science and engineering. After that, he moved on to coach the same kids in high school. “Some of the kids I originally coached are now going to college for engineering all over the country – even at Ivy League schools,” he says with excitement.
Whether it is his IT career, racing, coaching robotics or philanthropic involvement, Batshoun cites Jennifer’s support as the source of his drive and determination, because there is no way he could pursue so many passions without her. His parents’ legacy keeps him going as well. “My dad was one of nine children, and his father passed away from illness when he was young, so he had to provide for the family,” he says. “My parents worked so hard to create a comfortable life for us, so that’s what I always wanted to do.”
Batshoun is also involved with the Children’s Advocacy Center in Northern Kentucky, and for two years he ran Kentucky Upstream, a nonprofit that helps high school students with great ideas bring their projects to life, present their inventions and gain recognition for their work. “Anything I can do to help kids,” Batshoun says. “Whether they don’t have good homes, suffer abuse or just need some direction and help.” When asked what wisdom he hopes to pass on to his own three children, Batshoun says, “If you’re dedicated and have the right ethics, you can always do good things. Always be working to better the community, because if we build a better future for others, it will be better for us all.”