By Jennifer Erb
Ron Parrish was both a full-time WVU-IE student, a father, and full-time night-shift technician at the Westinghouse plant in Fairmont WV during his college years from 1960 to 1966. He finally graduated in 1966. This was before the interstate highway (I-79) was completed, and the drive from Fairmont to Morgantown took an hour in clear weather. As a result, Ron’s study time was limited, and his grades suffered – barely above a “C” overall final average.
While working at Westinghouse, Ron used his IE coursework to develop an algorithm to compute an optimal production schedule for manufacturing lightbulbs. Ron’s algorithm was subsequently used throughout other Westinghouse facilities.
Ron worked for Westinghouse at several locations over 17 years. His career led him eventually to corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh. He decided in 1981 to leave Westinghouse because of his concern for the corporation’s direction and future at that time.
His next step was into his first P&L position at Sun Electric Corporation, a worldwide manufacturer of automotive diagnostic equipment. At Sun, Ron was firstly senior product development manager, then later a corporate officer as Senior Vice President of Engineering and Manufacturing Operations.
What followed after Sun was a series of senior executive positions (Vice President, Group President, and/or CEO) in similar other manufacturing corporations. “I was fired three times”, Ron says. “The reason for each firing was his refusal to follow an order given to him by someone higher in the organization. Those “terminal” orders involved actions which Ron felt were unethical and a betrayal of his own personal moral values.
Ron cherishes his wife, Barbara, for her support in each of these actions. “If you had done what you were told to do, it would be the first time we would both be ashamed,” she said, “and you wouldn’t be the man I married.”
In all of his positions, Ron had the ability to take underperforming organizations and build into them a high performing management team. “If you are going to be an effective leader, you need to be able to develop other leaders”, Ron says.
Since he left the corporate world in 2002, Ron has taught at three universities (including WVU). At Northern Illinois University, he was selected as Professor of the Year for the College of Business.
While Ron struggled as an undergraduate, he now is a licensed professional engineer, has two Master’s degrees and has studied at INSEAD University, a top business school in Europe.
As a professor, he has a special ability to develop the best in those students who, like him, have had to work hard to achieve their degrees.
He says he had no favorite assignment, because he loved them all. He presently owns and manages a horse boarding ranch in Illinois. He still does occasional seminars and was recently was asked if he would consider doing one in Inner Mongolia.
Ron Parrish is the former Chief Executive Officer of Specialty Elastomers Technologies, Inc. of Oryx Group. Plc. And Acushnet Rubber Company, Inc. He has M & A and operations experience and general management at five major manufacturing corporations plus entrepreneur/owner of four small businesses, business consultant, adjunct faculty member at three major universities and a community college. Has had a wide range of domestic and international product/market and management experience.
He has public service leadership in municipal government, non-profit foundation, and academic settings. He is a “turnaround specialist” based on strategic vision, innovative problem solving, a people oriented management style.
His leadership experiences include:
Chief Executive Officer Specialty Elastomer Technologies Inc. of Oryx Capital plc. 1999 to 2002
A $65 million Venture Capital startup company. Formed and grew business to five divisions, plus one minority business enterprise (MBE) Joint Venture partner, and presence in Europe and Asia, with other 1000 employees in three years.
Chairman, Chief Executive Officer Acushnet Rubber Company, Inc. New Bedford, Massachusetts 1997 to 1998
A $100 million manufacture of rubber products for automotive, recreational equipment, and office supplies companies. Operations in North America, Thailand, Europe, Brazil. Company is certified ISO9001, QS9000, ISO14001.
Group President John Crane Elastomer Seals North American, Chicago, Illinois 1993 to 1997
A polymer products manufacturer comprised of four divisions and a North American sales group. A subsidiary of TI Group (plc) a $3.5 Billion British company with P&L responsibility of North America; we had $90 million annual sales manufacturing polymer products with sales throughout North America, Europe, and the Far East and operations in Mexico, Canada, U.S., and Malta.
Vice President AM Multigraphics, Mt. Prospect, Illinois 1987 to 1990
A world leading manufacture of offset duplicating equipment and other ancillary equipment of the graphic arts industry.
Senior Vice President (Corporate Officer)
$230 million manufacture of electronic and microprocessor based diagnostic and service equipment for vehicle manufacturers and service companies. Operations in North America, UK, Germany, and Brazil.