Ron Pickle, vice president of manufacturing for Hargrave Custom Yachts, died in Fort Lauderdale April 14, after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 66.
Friends in the industry say Pickle will be remembered for his compassion for other people as much as for his skills as a top executive and boat company owner.
Hargrave president Mike Joyce, in a speech to employees on Monday, credited Pickle with making major contributions to the success of that company.
"Ron Pickle served in every possible position in this industry from errand boy all the way up to CEO and factory owner," Joyce said in a statement. "Ron Pickle not only handled all his operating responsibilities at our company with distinction but also served as a teacher, motivator, mentor, and head cheerleader for everyone in this company, including me. God made very few people like Ron Pickle and we feel truly blessed to have worked with him."
Pickle’s career began in 1959 when he graduated from high school in Lancaster, Penn., and joined Trojan Yachts as a carpenter’s apprentice.
In the following 24 years he rose through the organization to become plant manager and, ultimately, vice president of sales, manufacturing and engineering for the 600-employee firm.
He left Trojan in 1983 to start his own boat company with longtime friend and business partner Don Seith. They formed American International Marine, which manufactured center console boats.
Pickle sold the company to Larson in the late 1980s. He and Seith also set up Princess Yachts US and began importing the English-built yachts into North America through a national dealer organization they established.
Pickle, who was recognized on many occasions for his work with the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the American Boat and Yacht Council, is credited for his role in establishing the standards, which still guide the boating industry to this day.