Kendrick "Ken" B. Melrose, former chairman and chief executive officer of The Toro Company, passed away Sunday, May, 3, 2020, at the age of 79.
"Ken was a great man, and the epitome of an exceptional leader," said Rick Olson, current chairman and chief executive officer of The Toro Company.
"The culture he instilled continues as a positive influence and will guide The Toro Company long into the future. Ken was passionate about supporting the industries we serve and helping our customers succeed. The impact of his generous philanthropic initiatives will continue to positively affect many in our industry and our communities."
Ken joined The Toro Company in 1970, and over the course of the following decade served in a number of leadership roles with increasing responsibility. In 1981, as the company faced extremely challenging times, Ken was named president. Toro say that Ken's belief in and ability to connect with people, his fortitude while making tough decisions, and his commitment to quality and innovation, all helped lead the organisation through financial difficulty to record results at the time.
Ken outlined his business philosophy in his book published in 1995, Making the Grass Greener on Your Side: A CEO's Journey to Leading by Serving. As Ken wrote, "Everyone has the potential to contribute to achieving the goals of the company. If you unleash that potential, market leadership and financial success will be natural by-products."
After leading the company for 24 years, Ken retired as CEO in March of 2005. During his tenure, Ken oversaw a number of acquisitions including Wheel Horse, Exmark, Lawn-Boy and Hayter, and company sales grew from $247 million to $1.7 billion.
"We owe much to Ken's principled leadership, and his legacy cannot be overstated," added Rick Olson. "He was a rare transformational leader who saw the best in people and knew how to inspire them to work together and exceed their own expectations in order to achieve great things."
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