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Tribute to Bob Winzeler, Jr.

Robert C. Winzeler, Jr.

May 1, 1931 – April 29, 2012

Bob's vibrant journey through life was one filled with integrity, accomplishment, leadership, and a great love for family, friends, and community.

Bob was affectionately known as "The Big Chief" at Winzeler Stamping Company. It was a title he was given many years ago and accepted with a bit of a wink and a nod.  Although Bob's sense of humor was always on display, he never failed to earn the respect of those with whom he came in contact.  His business sense, work ethic, intelligence, candor, and integrity culminated to bring success after success for Bob and the Winzeler companies.

Bob led Winzeler Stamping Company as Chairman and CEO from 1970 to 1997.  Throughout his career at Winzeler Stamping, his leadership provided vision for innovation and expansion setting the stage for the success we enjoy today.  Bob remained involved in the company as Chairman until the time of his death. 

We at Winzeler Stamping Company will forever be indebted to Bob for the lessons learned through his leadership and his more than 50 years of influence.  Although there were many things he taught us, these few stand out:   

  • Work hard
  • Possess and value integrity
  • Pursue excellence 
  • People make the difference
  • Choose wisely, but take risks  
  • Be proud to be an American 
  • Be generous with both time and treasure
  • Laugh --- a lot! 
  • Cherish loved ones

 

As employees and friends of “the Chief” we would like to share some of our memories and personal anecdotes that demonstrate his humanity and character.

 

My best memory of Mr. Winzeler is that he always had time for his employees.  He would come out and walk through the shop.  If someone wanted to talk, he always stopped and listened to them.  He made himself available to us. May God bless him.  – Darold M.

 

When he walked through the plant – his hands would be in his back pockets.  He would always stop by and want to know how it was going…

 

His dream of seeing the company through it’s 100th anniversary and saying he was “going to throw a big bash!”

 

I admired him for his Christian walk and for the prayers he led at our Christmas parties.

 

I have worked at Winzeler’s for almost 29 years; Bob will be missed at the parties and the meetings.  -  D. Cox, Sr.

 

When I was hired in, I was the janitor at Plant 2.  One of my jobs was to clean the meeting room. To clean this room meant cleaning the pictures on the wall.  While I was cleaning Bob’s face, I would talk to him about things that were going on in my life.  He never knew about this,but it made me smile or sometimes cry depending on what I was going through.  That Christmas, I decorated the Christmas tree in the lobby and he came in and told me I was doing a wonderful job and it was the best ever.  It made my day!  - Bonnie O.

 

One word:  generous   - D. Conrad

 

I remember a lot of things about Bob, but the one thing that has always stuck in my head is when my son was working out at Scranton Machine for about six weeks after graduation before leaving for Marine Boot Camp.  Bob was out at Scranton one afternoon, and took the time to shake my son’s hand and wish him luck in the Marine Corp. and thanked him for being willing to serve his Country.  – Penny L.

 

Some of the things I remember about The Chief over the years is his drive, his vision and especially his generosity.  It would boggle the mind if a list was made of all the companys, organizations, political and private friends, community and individuals that he either gave money, time or advice to.  He simply liked helping people where he could and rarely turned anyone away.  He loved life, his family, friends, traveling, music and his country.

All who have crossed The Chief’s path should consider themselves blessed. His passing will leave a big void in many lives and he will be greatly missed.  – Lee H.

 

I developed a great respect for Bob Winzeler by the way he would introduce his wife, Jo at the Christmas dinners. He never failed to refer to her as his “best friend”. The respect he gave to her in that one sentence told me a lot about Bob and his love for his wife. It may seem like a small gesture to some, but remains big to me in my memory of Bob.  – Sheila S.

             

Remembrances  of Bob:

… his smile

… his wife and family – the highlights of his life

… his generosity and sharing

… his prestige

… his jokes

… always wanting the best and wanting to be the best – WORLD CLASS!

… his cologne

… the integrity and respect he gave and also deserved

… his stories – so many stories!

… his bluntness and to the point attitude

… the appreciation he gave to people

… his commitment to the success in his life, family and Winzeler Stamping Company

                                                                                       --- Brenda B.

 

I had worked with Bob on the first safety committee and had talked to him on numerous occasions, but had not known how funny he really was.  We had received a shipment of nuts from China that were packaged in a plastic sleeve, then a small box, and then a bigger box.  I was unpacking them and putting them into a hopper for assembly.  He walked over and asked me what I was doing.  When I told him, he told me to hold out my hand, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a quarter and placed it in my hand and said “Now you have been paid the same amount that the person who packaged them got.”   

The next was a conversation Bob had with my then 10 yr. old son.  I had to bring my son with me to a retirement party for my 2nd shift supervisor.  When Bob walked in he sat down next to my son and asked him how things were going.  Bob asked him if he had a job yet.  My son told him that he was a paper boy.  Bob told him that he had been one too.  Bob said that he had a long route and that it was on the other side of town and that one winter day he was the farthest from home and he had to go to the bathroom and he couldn’t wait, so he went, “Right in my pants”.  He said he was frozen to his bike seat by the time he got home.  My son, who is now 22, was then and now, still quite impressed that a man like Bob could be so “real”.   Bob also showed him his “Big Chief” ring.  So in our house Bob was always “Big Chief”.  Bob will be greatly missed by our whole family.   --- Michaela W.

 

Every time I think of Bob a smile comes to my face.  What an amazing sense of humor he shared and the fun he had with his “Big Chief” ring.  He will certainly be missed, though his presence will always be felt here at Winzeler Stamping Company.   --- Connie D.

 

I will miss seeing Bob walk through the office.  He always said “Hello” and would ask “How are things going?” or “How is business?”  I will remember Bob for his smile and his laugh. --- Emily E.

 

I was hired during a time that Bob and his wife, Jo were away on an extended trip.  Since Bob’s office was at Plant 1 and my office is at Plant 2, we didn’t meet for quite a while after I was settled in.  One day he came over to Plant 2 and made the rounds talking to everyone.  I caught a glance of him as he walked by my office, and wondered if I should go introduce myself.  As it turns out, I didn’t have to.  He backed up and walked in my office and said sternly, yet with a grin “I’m the Big Chief, who are you?”  I told him my name and what I was working on, and he welcomed me to the Company.  Then I had the pleasure of listening to him share stories about his trips, the company, and his wife.  I will always remember the way he spoke about Mrs. Winzeler and how they were such a good pair….his words: “Yin and Yang”. What an impression he made. He had such presence – yet was so endearing. One conversation spoke volumes.  I can fully understand why everyone loved and respected him.  --- Michelle S.

 

In being a newbie with Winzeler Stamping I have not had many opportunities to interact with Bob.  Last September Doral Steel’s outside salesman, thought it would be a good idea if we got the “old guys” together.  Jim knew Cam Smith Sr. CEO/Founder of Doral Steel used to sell steel to Bob.   After several attempts to get all our schedules to coincide, we finally agreed on a date.  The three of us arrived to find Bob at “his” table.  After getting situated Bob started to deluge me with commercial questions.  I was anticipating some questions but not to those details.  I rattled off the figures and for a moment felt like I passed the test. 

For the next hour all I did was listen.  Cam Sr. and Bob would bounce from topic to topic.  They talked about the good old days, you were as good as your word and all it took to close a deal was a hand shake.  Each of them would take turns reflecting on a common acquaintance.  It always started off the same way… do you remember?  Each time there was a pause as the other reached for that distant memory and then a sparkle in the eye as if it were yesterday.  Once we finished lunch Bob invited us back to the plant.   I gave Cam Sr. and Jim the nickel tour, Bob opted out saying with a chuckle “I’ve seen it once or twice before”.  We met up outside Bob’s office to say our goodbyes.  Bob invited us in to take a load off our feet.  Once inside his office I was amazed at all the history.  Each picture or artifact had a story.  Again I found myself mesmerized as Bob would pick up a picture and begin to give a very detailed narrative of its significance.  Bob talked about past presidents as if they were his next door neighbor.  He talked about his fight to bring industry to the area.  He talked about politics and the Republican Party and yes of course he talked about Ohio State.  As I sat there I felt like I was sitting at the feet of my Grandfather.  Each story revealed another side of Bob’s character.  It was easy to see Bob had a love for family, a love of community and a love for Winzeler.  His heart for people was evident and his heart for the preservation of the Winzeler tradition was clear.  I left that office knowing I was in the presence of a man that had made a difference in life.  In fact he had made a difference in the lives of so many people he had come in contact with. 

Even though our encounter was brief, it has left an indelible mark on my being.  I am proud to be part of the Winzeler family, I am proud to be part of the Winzeler Way.    My heartfelt sympathy is extended to the entire family with their loss of a true icon.   --- Neal C.

 

While still interviewing for a position with Winzeler Stamping Company, I had the distinct impression that no hiring would take place without Bob’s blessing.  Wanting to make a good first impression I was doing my best to take everything in and pick up on any visual cues that may help me.  When I arrived for the interview, the first thing I see is a fish with a cigar (!) hanging out of its mouth.  I considered asking about it, but looking around I began to realize the eclectic décor continued on into Bob’s office where the many photographs and other memorabilia spoke volumes about the man.  When formally introduced to Bob, he handed me a business card—which I still have—and the only thing it said was “The Big Chief”.  And that’s exactly how I will remember Bob—larger than life and a story to tell.  --- Karen B.

 

Click here to read more about Winzeler Stamping Company history.

 

 

 

 

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