One Of The Great Manufacturers - by Jerry Jasinowski
Ronald D. Bullock, who passed away suddenly at his home in St. Charles, Illinois, on June 8, was one of the great manufacturers. I don't mean to imply he ranks with Edison and Ford, at least not in terms of scale, but he performed prodigies with his company, Bison Gear & Engineering, Corp., and at every step of the way he was an exemplary businessman.
I got to know Ron as President of the National Association of Manufacturers. He was a member of the NAM Board of Directors and later served as Chairman of the Manufacturing Institute, the NAM's think tank. Somewhere along the line he also found time to serve as Chairman of the Illinois Manufacturers Association. He was ever and always a positive, dynamic factor in manufacturing.
Ron began working for Bison Gear in 1981 and took over the company in 1987. Ron had his hands on every aspect of the business from the beginning - engineering, marketing, operations, management and - most importantly - vision. You can learn engineering and management skills in college, but they don't teach vision. You either have it or you don't.
Ron had it in abundance. He saw that little company from the outset as a large enterprise hiding in a small building. He led the company through an era of explosive growth as he expanded its product line and distribution, and adopted an aggressive export program. Bison makes electric motors - an array of advanced top of the line electric motors - and sells them on seven continents.
Manufacturing in the 21st century is intensely challenging to say the least, but Ron embraced that challenge with exuberant optimism. The company was committed to a process of continual improvement. An extension of that was Ron's commitment to innovation. I always looked forward to Manufacturing Week in Chicago to see the latest innovations Ron's team had come up with on display. It was always one of my first stops in the exhibit hall.
Ron believed strongly in the power of manufacturing and recognized the extraordinary challenges U.S. manufacturing was facing in terms of unprecedented foreign competition and rapidly changing technology. He recognized early on that one of manufacturing's biggest problems was the shortage of skilled workers who could handle advanced technology. He worked with a variety of organizations to expand education and training opportunities in advanced manufacturing.
Ron was also civic-minded and committed to his community. He founded BisonCares, a 501(c)(3) charity operated through the company. It recently celebrated its 10th anniversary providing services and support to local charities.
My fondest memory of Ron will forever be his exuberant good humor. He always had 10 irons in the fire and an endless list of headaches, but he never lost that good cheer that lifted him and all around him. I never saw him without a smile. Ron Bullock will be sorely missed.
Jerry Jasinowski, an economist and author, served as President of the National Association of Manufacturers for 14 years and later The Manufacturing Institute. You can quote from this with attribution. Let me know if you would like to speak with Jerry. June 2016