From the CEO: Doc Hall, “the heartbeat of AME”

AME | January 31, 2024

Last week, I talked about celebrating my four years as CEO of AME and how wonderful this experience has been. I am forever grateful to the AME trailblazers for this dream. In my January fifth letter, I talked about AME’s history and the pioneers who founded this incredible organization four decades ago. This week, I would like to honor one of those leaders celebrating his AME 40th anniversary: Robert (Doc) Hall.

I was not here in the early years, so I asked some of those who were to share their thoughts on honoring a man who has made a significant impact on our lives. No matter who I asked, they all shared that Doc’s actions and contributions have left an indelible mark on their hearts, minds, careers and lives. So today, Doc, we honor you.

Michael Bremer shares, “I feel very fortunate that you are part of my life. I’ve always admired the way you push the boundaries of thought, your focus on practical steps to take, and the humility you exhibit in the way you lead. Your curiosity is infectious in the most positive way. It encouraged the rest of us to also contemplate and to learn. AME will be one of your many positive lifetime legacies that uplift the people who engage with the organization.”

Burgess Oliver shares, “I first met you when you were giving a presentation on your book 'Zero Inventories.' I was a new production control manager implementing a computerized system supporting something called MRP. Your book opened my eyes to a lot of new things in the management of inventories and processes, 'JIT.' The second was at an APICS Convention. I heard four individuals talking about starting a subgroup in APICS dealing with the subject of MRP. It was the very beginning of AME. I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate the time and insights you have given/shared with me over the past 45 years. You became the informal Father. You cannot realize the impact you had on my life's journey – you and the great folks of AME. I have total confidence God put me in that hallway, that day, that time to meet you and the other gentlemen with you to help guide my life's journey in manufacturing.“

John Puckett says, “It has been a privilege to know you and work with you since the late 80’s. We had an especially great time putting the seminars together on Self Directed Work teams and conducting the presentations in the Colorado mountains. As Doug and I often reminisce about the old days of AME, there is no doubt that the sessions we had with you and the other plant leaders contributed greatly to our business success. I continue to hold you up in my prayers, my friend.”

Doc Hall at an early AME meeting

Marc Kuzik, director of AME Champions Club, shares, “I appreciate the time together in thoughtful conversation. I have learned much while listening to your insights about current events, and you always help connect the dots. Your ability to tailor your stories to the current situation always encourages reflection and rich takeaways. Perhaps this is what makes this time so precious. The personal connection you afford and reminders of the bigger picture are always humbling. I remember a few years back at a conference asking you what I thought was a simple question that resulted in a ‘short’ two-and-a-half-hour discussion. The details of that time have faded, but the concepts remain. Those concepts have shaped my true north, and I know, in turn, to continue to build a better AME. I appreciate you, Doc.“

Dan McDonnell says, “When I first met you, I was just a young, eager whipper snapper. I remember you and other AME leaders talking about ‘Thought Leadership’ and how that is what differentiated the association. That phrase really resonated with me, and through the rest of my career, I tried to learn from folks who exhibited thought leadership. All the many years later, you proved over and over to be a strong mentor to me, and any time I had the opportunity to listen to you, I learned. You always pushed the envelope in my thinking, often to the point I was uncomfortable or didn’t fully grasp it, but your words would remain with me, and I would noodle on things for months or even years after. You have left a rich legacy of positively impacting the working lives of so many individuals, myself included. Thanks for everything.“

Maria Elena Stopher shares, “There are so many leaders and leaders who follow and replicate other leader behaviors. YOU, on the other hand, are a TRAILBLAZER. You have always been first, exploring topics before anyone can even dream them. You have shown so many of us how to turn the impossible into possible. I'm so lucky to have had you shift the way I think. With love, awe, and admiration.“

Tony Laraia says, “You’ve challenged my thinking for decades – not through formal teaching, but through bringing new perspectives and insights that open new thought paths. Above all, you’ve stimulated a thirst for learning in me and in many. It’s your influence that made AME a learning organization. You’ve influenced more careers and lives than you can know.”

Pat Carguello sums everyone’s sentiments with, “When I first met you way back in 1975, I was convinced that I was in the presence of someone that I needed to get to know more. Years later, when I joined the AME, I was able to become much more than just a friend. Echoing what others have said, you became a teacher and a guide to me as I began to learn about lean, leadership, people, imagining what could be, and all that you have brought to the AME family. You are the heartbeat of AME.”

Doc has spoken to the last two cohorts of the AME Emerging Leaders program. AME Emerging Leader director Joshua Buchanan shares, “Your influence continues to resonate and inspire others. We all continue to be champions and rebels and challenge what could be. Thank you for inspiring the next generation of AME leaders!”

Sara O’Hara from the AME Home Team shares, “I find great joy in collaborating with Doc because every interaction brings new knowledge. Above all, I hold Doc in high esteem and consider you my mentor. You have imparted a crucial lesson – the pursuit of knowledge should never cease, and openness to change is essential, no matter how daunting it may appear. Doc, along with his wife Sandra, embodies the concept of 'been there and done that.' Your life experiences contribute to captivating stories that can relate to any imaginable situation. Whenever I think of you and Sandra, my heart is filled with warmth, and I consider myself truly blessed to have you as a part of my life.”

I encourage you to take a moment to think about the legends and role models in your own life. Perhaps there is a mentor whose guidance has shaped your career, a colleague who was always there, or a family member whose unwavering support has been a cornerstone of your journey. Consider today how you can honor them and, above all, tell them. Let’s remember that honoring a legend is not only a token of appreciation but also a testament to the enduring power of their legacy. By celebrating and preserving their contributions, we ensure that their influence illuminates the path for those who follow in their footsteps.

Whether you have been with AME for four or forty years, we honor you and celebrate you today. Thank you, Doc, for the past forty years and for being an incredible supporter and mentor to me.

As always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.