Nobody had more influence in changing Kent Elastomer to what we’ve become than Murray Van Epp. Murray was hired at KEP as Executive Vice President of Sales in 1988 after a career in pharmaceutical sales, then later, as VP Sales for competitor Hygenic. In 1996, he was made President of KEP.
Murray has a master’s degree in psychology and he used it in a positive way – leveraging people to be open, honest and work together. He helped us find new solutions through cooperating with each other, rather than engaging in power struggles. Murray built trust. Because Murray wanted a culture of cooperation and trust, he gave me the green light to spend $25K in 2006 to explore Lean Enterprise training for our team members.
Murray was the one who inspired me to think about Lean. He was a fanatic about organization – which led me to believe that Lean training would help get him off my back. Little did I know that it would be an entirely new philosophy to embrace – helping to get KEP on the path to becoming a better organized, more efficient and quality-focused manufacturing partner.
Then one day, Murray came into my office and said, “I need to talk to you for an hour.” I wondered what I did wrong – but instead, he told me that he wanted to retire. That began my grooming for president.
My friendship with Murray has increased fourfold since he left, I give him a lot of praise, not only for the company, but for me personally. Murray is always big on personal improvement. He was the one who encouraged me and helped raise me to the goal of getting my master’s degree at Kent State University. He helped to do the same for Don Leeper and John Danes, who pursued their MBAs.
Murray has truly been KEP’s key to transformation!
– Bob Oborn
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