By Steve Noe
The outdoor power equipment industry lost one of its finest with the Feb. 23 passing of Ray Weingartz, former owner of Weingartz Supply Co., Inc., a third-generation-owned, five-location dealership headquartered in Utica, Mich., and founder and former owner of Power Equipment Distributors, Inc. in Richmond, Mich. He was 78.
When I received word of Ray’s passing, I started searching for more information about him on the Internet and found a heart-warming obituary written by his family. I would like to share the following excerpts with you to shed light on who he was and what made him so successful.
“Ray Weingartz was a man who lived his life in a way that always had this day in mind, in the best ways possible. His priorities were clear — God first, then his family, then his business and everyone it serves, and lastly, himself. Many people knew him from his accomplished business career, and it was an important part of his life, but many may not understand why it was important to him. He certainly was one of the best salesmen and best businessmen that any of us ever knew. He taught us the importance of working hard and being an expert in our field. He had little patience for people that expected things to come easy or were unwilling to put in the work required to do the job well. But more than any of that, he wanted his business to give glory to God. That was his driving force for working to build the business. He believed and impressed on us that a business could operate with complete integrity; absolute honesty; serve its customers, employees, communities and the poor; and that if we stayed true to those principles, the business would be successful…
“He loved to work with his family and share his faith through his actions. He taught us the importance of acting honorably by being honorable, of trust by being trusting and trustworthy, of charity by being charitable. He really believed that the business was an extension of these values, and so when he focused his substantial ambition on growing the business, it was growing it so we could serve more by our efforts. The success of the business, whether small or large, always served other purposes. There were more opportunities for employees, more customers served, and more resources to share with those in need.
“It is difficult to try to sum up a great life in a few words, but if one had to for Ray, it might be ‘serving God by serving others.’ He loved helping people and believed in sharing his time, talent and treasure… He truly looked at himself as a steward of the abundant blessings that he was entrusted with and worked very hard to make sure that he shared them well. His care for his community and especially for the poor are shown through his many relationships with business and charitable associations.”
The obituary then named a long list of organizations that Ray served, many of them tied to his devotion to his Catholic faith and the OPE industry. Exmark General Manager Judy Altmaier said all who knew Ray remember him with great fondness and respect.
“Ray was an industry icon and a leader with strong faith and immovable values,” she said. “He was never too busy to take the time to talk with people or, more importantly, listen to them. His commitment to service, to his family, and to his community was legendary. Exmark has always appreciated Ray’s partnership, and we pay our highest respect to the legacy he leaves behind.”
Ray’s legacy will undoubtedly be carried on by his surviving family members: Marie, his wife of 57 years; seven children, including daughters Cathy Radtke, Bev DeVriendt and Angie Malburg and sons Ron, Tom, Dan and Ken; 29 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren; and four siblings. Ray’s family is still heavily involved with both OPE businesses. At Weingartz, Dan serves as president, Ron as vice president of sales, Ken as vice president of parts and service, Angie as office manager, and Cathy’s husband Ed as controller. At Power Equipment Distributors, Bev is president. Tom recently retired after working nearly 35 years for both Weingartz and Power Equipment Distributors.
On behalf of everyone at OPE, I would like to extend my sincerest and most heartfelt condolences to Ray’s family and friends.
OPE Editor Steve Noe