We learned belatedly this week of the the passing of our friend Dick Kelch of Ashton Plastics in Xenia, Ohio. We wrote about Dick often here and he would occasionally weigh in with comments of his own. As we said, he was an irascible sort, irreverent, and to the point. You always knew where you stood with Dick.
But the great thing about Dick was that he epitomized all that is great about American manufacturing. He founded his own company and, as with all manufacturers, endured many ups and downs. But through it all, even when the downs were very low, he never quit. He always found a way to continue to cut his costs, and more importantly, he innovated, constantly innovated. Dick was always dreaming up products. We even profiled his efforts for world peace. But “The Peacemaker” was exactly the kind of product that Dick would dream up and then manufacture. He never lost his drive, never lost his sense of wonder, never lost his zeal for manufacturing. At the age of 71, as most men are “packing their lives in cotton,” as Steinbeck wrote, Dick was still innovating, going strong, looking to tomorrow.
The world will be a quieter and far less interesting place without Dick Kelch. We will certainly miss his occasional missives and we will miss what he represented — the very best of American manufacturing.
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