By SCOTT AIKEN
ST. JOSEPH, Mich. – Ronald Kinney, who built one of the nation’s largest wholesale electrical distributorships from a modest start in an old grocery store in Benton Harbor, has died. He was 82.
The former president and chief executive officer of All-Phase Electric Supply Co., a company he founded in 1959, Kinney died Monday at his home in St. Joseph.
Kinney started All-Phase in a former A&P store, and under his leadership, it grew to become the fifth-largest business of its type in the country.
When he stepped down as president and chief executive officer in 1994, the company had grown to more than 100 branches with 1,900 employees nationwide.
During his years at the helm of All-Phase, Kinney was featured three times in cover stories in a leading trade publication, and was a recipient of the National Association of Electrical Distributors’ “Distinguished Service Award” and the “Arthur W. Hooper Achievement Award.”
Kinney was long active in community organizations, a trustee of Olivet College and supported philanthropic endeavors, among them restoration of the Firemen’s Monument in St. Joseph.
The Michigan Senate honored him in 1991 for his “hard work, sterling character and entrepreneurial spirit.”
He was a member of the Inter-City Bank board for more than 30 years.
“He was very kind and very close to the Catholic church and close to his family,” said Jack Kinney, his brother.
Three Kinney brothers, Ronald, Patrick and Jack, grew up on Pipestone Street in Benton Harbor and attended St. John’s Catholic schools.
They finished college and served in the military, Ronald in the Navy, before starting separate businesses with the help and support of their father, John J. Kinney Jr.
“He had a tough start,” Jack Kinney recalls of his brother’s effort to get All-Phase off the ground.
“It was a volume business and required large inventories. It was a very tough start but he lived the business, stayed with it and turned it around.”
Kinney’s nephew, John Kinney, recalls a kind man who had great organizational skills.
“Whatever we did with him, he wanted to be the organizer,” Kinney said. “At the beach at my grandfather’s house, playing some touch football, he had to make sure everything was just so.”
Ronald Kinney is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Eva, and five children. His son, Ronald Kinney Jr., died in 1997 and brother Patrick, a lawyer, died in 1998.
Reposted with permission from The Herald-Palladium.Tagged with tED