BendPak founder Don Henthorn passes away - Transmission Digest

BendPak founder Don Henthorn passes away

Don Henthorn, owner and founder of BendPak Inc., peacefully passed away at home Thursday, March 28, at the age of 85. Under his leadership, BendPak has grown from a small machine shop to one of the world’s leading manufacturers of car lifts and automotive service equipment.

Management and operations of the privately owned company are unchanged.

Henthorn transitioned day-to-day management to the current leadership team in 2022 as part of an established succession plan. Serving as chairman emeritus, he continued to coach the team, coming to the office six days a week.

“Don’s visionary leadership and unwavering dedication have been the cornerstone of BendPak’s success. His passion, wisdom, and guidance have left an indelible mark on all of us and the organization,” said Jeff Kritzer, BendPak president and CEO. “His legacy lives on through the values and principles he instilled in our company. He was not only a leader, but also a mentor, inspiring all of us to strive for excellence and to never settle for anything else.”

Henthorn enlisted in the U.S. Army at 19 years old. He was stationed at a Nike Ajax missile site in Connecticut. While there, he met Virginia Ann “Ginger” Eib, and they married two days after he was discharged in 1959. Three days after that, they moved to California, where he went to work in the burgeoning aerospace industry. After learning all he could, he started Quality Machine & Associates (QMA) in Simi Valley, California. This premier job shop specialized in precision machine work for aerospace and defense giants like Rocketdyne, Rockwell, and Hughes Aircraft.

Not content with the “feast or famine” workload of a job shop, Henthorn labored after hours to develop and patent specialty tools QMA could market itself. The most successful of these included the 5ivePak, a portable combination coil spring compressor, U-joint press and gear-puller; a MacPherson strut spring-compressor; and a portable exhaust pipe expander.

By the 1970s, Henthorn was increasingly focused on building equipment for the then-bustling muffler shop industry. In 1977, he oversaw construction of the company’s first new building, a 20,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Moorpark, California. Two years later, QMA introduced a hydraulic tubing bender for muffler shops, and Henthorn was inspired to change the company name to match. “BendPak” was born. In 1983, responding to customer requests, Henthorn introduced BendPak’s first four-post lift and entered the vehicle lift market.

Over the ensuing decades, BendPak continued to grow. Today, the company has manufacturing and distribution facilities around the world and employs more than 275 people. In 2023, BendPak moved its global headquarters into a LEED Platinum certified administrative building in Agoura Hills, California. Work is underway on the BendPak Industrial Complex, a huge light industrial space being developed in Mobile County, Alabama, near the company’s recently expanded East Coast campus.

Never one to seek awards or accolades, Henthorn was a believer in hard work. Motivated by the fear of failure and the desire to expand his mind and his business, he pushed the company to continuously improve and grow. For decades, he was the first person in the door every day, starting between 5 and 6 a.m., Monday through Saturday. When asked the secret to BendPak’s success, he would answer simply, “We outwork everybody.”

Henthorn took his responsibility for the safety of millions of mechanics around the world very seriously and was committed to ensuring that BendPak produced superior products.

“We at BendPak wholeheartedly hold the philosophy that only going above and beyond on every product, for every customer, will keep us growing in this business,” he wrote in a letter to customers on BendPak.com. “When BendPak started, I was the sole name and voice attached to the company’s product development and operations. Today, BendPak exists beyond the control of just a few sharp minds. The hundreds of employees we hold dear are heard from and appreciated on a daily basis, which is why people continue to want to work here, and it’s why we’ll continue to thrive for generations to come.”

Henthorn could often be found out in the shop tinkering and inventing things. He also enjoyed golfing and sharing memories with friends, family, and colleagues.

Henthorn is survived by his wife, Ginger, daughter, Susan, and grandchildren Annika, Reagan, Carson, and Kennedy. He was preceded in death by his son, Gary.

For a look back on his life, please visit the BendPak blog. The blog will be updated with service information when available.

You May Also Like

Schaeffler recognized as a GM 2023 Top Global Supplier

Schaeffler announced it was recently recognized as a top global supplier of 2023 by General Motors during the automaker’s annual Supplier of the Year event in Miami, Florida. This is the fourth time Schaeffler has been honored with this award. The selection process distinguishes those who align closely with GM’s principles, the company said. These values,

Schaeffler announced it was recently recognized as a top global supplier of 2023 by General Motors during the automaker’s annual Supplier of the Year event in Miami, Florida. This is the fourth time Schaeffler has been honored with this award.

The selection process distinguishes those who align closely with GM’s principles, the company said. These values, rooted in performance, innovation, cultural alignment, and commitment to GM’s ambitious goals, serve as the foundation of the selection criteria, according to the company.

ALI announces Lifting Points Guide now available in digital and print

The Automotive Lift Institute (ALI) announced that it is offering the 2024 edition of its Lifting Points Guide, “Vehicle Lifting Points for Frame Engaging Lifts,” as either a digital product or bundle of print and digital. Related Articles – Axalta to acquire the CoverFlexx Group from Transtar – Remembrance: Gene Lewis – Eaton four-speed electric transmission receives

Axalta to acquire the CoverFlexx Group from Transtar

Axalta Coating Systems has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the CoverFlexx Group from Transtar Holding Co., the companies announced. The transaction is anticipated to close in the third quarter, pending regulatory approval and customary closing conditions. Related Articles – Schaeffler, ATSG partner to support technical education – NexaMotion Group opens new C&M location in

Transtar-Logo
Remembrance: Gene Lewis

Sadly, I report the passing of Gene Lewis on March 25 of this year. Gene was 97 at the time of his death. Related Articles – Shop Boss adds Venmo, PayPal options – DOJ, FTC signal support for MEMA Aftermarket suppliers’ petition – NexaMotion Group opens new Arch Auto Parts store Gene was the force

Eaton four-speed electric transmission receives PACEpilot award

Eaton’s heavy-duty four-speed electrified vehicle transmission was named a 2024 Automotive News PACEpilot Innovation to Watch at an awards ceremony on April 29. Related Articles – Bosch launches shop EV Training Tour – Can you jump-start an EV? – Gray Tools introduces insulated hex bit socket set Eaton said its EV transmission provides superior performance

Eaton-Automotive-News-PACEpilot-award
Other Posts
BendPak announces upgraded Litestix work light

BendPak announced a new, upgraded version of its Litestix portable LED work light. The company says the new Litestix LS36SMDX model is now powered by a higher-capacity rechargeable battery and provides up to seven hours of continuous use on one charge. This represents another hour of performance over its predecessor, BendPak said. Related Articles –

BendPak introduces new full-rise scissor lifts

BendPak has introduced the new SP-7XE Series of full-rise scissor lifts. They are rated for a capacity of 7,000 lbs. and can raise most cars and light trucks nearly six feet. BendPak says these lifts are made for shops with space constraints. Related Articles – K-Tool offers Ultimate Torq socket sets  – Alto introduces Nissan high-performance friction,

NexaMotion Group announces expansions for Transtar products, C&M Auto Parts locations 

NexaMotion Group announced expansions for two of its businesses. Transtar Industries is adding general repair product lines in four new markets: Cleveland and Mentor, OH; Pittsburgh, PA; and its newest location in Dallas, TX. In addition, the company announced that C&M Auto Parts has opened two new locations in the New Jersey market. C&M Auto Parts

Transtar
Deloitte study: Momentum is slowing for electrification in the U.S.

The 2024 Global Automotive Consumer Study by Deloitte revealed shifting trends in the automotive sector, highlighting the rise in U.S. consumer interest in internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and a decline in hybrid and battery electric vehicle (BEV) purchase intent. The report showed a 9% increase in ICE vehicle purchase intent, reaching 67%, while interest in hybrids

electric car generic