COLUMBIA CITY, IN—Don Wood, the founder of 80/20 Inc., died March 28 at age 87.
A journeyman toolmaker, Wood attended Drake University after military service. Wood founded 80/20, a supplier of modular T-slot aluminum components, in 1989.
In 1991, the company had a 20-page catalog, employed five people, and occupied a 3,000 square foot industrial building in Fort Wayne, IN. By 2018, the company had a 944-page catalog, employed some 400 people, and owned a 300,000 square foot building in Columbia City, IN.
“I had an idea for a revolutionary frame system that didn’t require welding. But the company I was working for gave me every reason it couldn’t be done,” said Wood. “I knew it was the right product, and like every entrepreneur, I was seeing beyond the obvious. I knew I could build a company with my idea. I was ready to take the risk.”
Wood named his company after Pareto’s Law—the theory, espoused by 19th century Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, that 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of efforts. “The 80/20 attitude is the cornerstone of our company,” Wood said. “It is a reflection of our service to our customers, our decades of industry experience, and our willingness to do what it takes to get the job done. There are a lot of things going on in this world that we cannot control. We cannot control gas prices, the decisions our government leaders make, or the weather—but we are in charge of our attitudes.”
“Don is leaving us with a living legacy through his initiatives in the business world and local community. He will be greatly missed and it was an honor getting to know and learn from him,” said Patrick Buesching, CEO of 80/20.