Blog Menu

Larry Rhoades Will be Missed

April 29, 2007

Filed under: life — Terry Wohlers @ 07:38

Last Monday, I received word that Larry Rhoades, founder and CEO of The Ex One Company, had died two days earlier while vacationing in Hawaii. I was shocked. Larry was a creative genius and an enthusiastic supporter of manufacturing technology. He was the CEO of Extrude Hone Corp. for 35 years where he launched ProMetal, which is currently a division of Ex One.

Larry was a strong supporter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and SME’s RAPID Conference & Exposition, which is this week in Detroit, Michigan. Larry was an SME Fellow, a distinction granted to less than one percent of the SME membership, making it one of the most prestigious honors presented by the Society.

“Larry touched you personally, he had a love and lust for life, and he had an intense intellectual curiosity,” said David Burns, president of Ex One. “Larry never found a problem that he didn’t want to solve.”

Larry had a very inventive mind, even at a young age. Burns explained to me that he and a good friend co-founded nine companies while attending Brown University. Larry holds patents on more than 25 inventions on nontraditional manufacturing processes for machining, finishing, forming, and measurement. This work has led to protective gear used in NASCAR, the NFL, NHL, NBA, and professional baseball.

I received pages full of honors and awards that Larry received. He was generous with his time and resources and contributed tremendously to the future of manufacturing, science, and business. He served on the boards of many corporate and non-profit organizations and was a part of U.S. government advisory groups.

I had the privilege of working with Larry over the years and it was honor to know him. A few month ago, I read an article written by him titled The Transformation of Manufacturing in the 21st Century and published in The Bridge, a publication by the National Academy of Engineering. As I read through it, I began to highlight interesting comments. By the time I was finished, it was mostly yellow. It turned out to be one of the most thought-provoking and well-researched articles I had read in a very long time. What’s more, it really captured what Larry was all about. The article is available here.

Larry is survived by his three children and one grandchild. He was 62.