Morbark president announces retirement

On August 8, Morbark, LLC, based in Winn, Mich., announced the retirement of its president, James W. Shoemaker Jr., after 13 years with the company.

“My job is complete,” said Shoemaker. “When I became president, I had a mission — to regain market share and increase profitability for Morbark, and then to prepare the company for sale. The team at Morbark reacted splendidly, and we successfully regained market share and enhanced our profitability. My intention all along was, once the company was sold, to retire and let the new management take charge, and that’s what I’m doing.”

Morbark was acquired by Stellex Capital Management in March 2016. Shoemaker started working with Stellex in September 2015 and agreed to stay on as president for a few months to assist with the transition. He plans to stay involved with Morbark in a consulting capacity.

“Jim Shoemaker provided strong leadership to Morbark during the past five years, and contributed greatly to the company’s growth,” said Morbark CEO Dan Ruskin. “It’s been an honor to work with him, and we’re all grateful for his contributions and assistance during the transition. He has worked tirelessly to support this company and its customers, dealers and employees, as well as the manufacturing industry as a whole.”

Shoemaker joined Morbark in 2003 as director of operations before being promoted to vice president of operations, and then was appointed president in 2011.

Passionately involved in local industry associations, Shoemaker is a founder and the president of the Central Michigan Manufacturers Association, as well as a member of the following organizations:

  • Middle Michigan Development Corporation board of directors
  • Central Michigan University School of Engineering Advisory Board
  • Eastern Michigan University College of Technology Dean’s Advisory Board
  • Greater Gratiot Industry/Education Roundtable
  • The Rogers Group board of directors

In May 2016, for his efforts, dedication and issue advocacy for the manufacturing industry, Shoemaker received the 2016 John G. Thodis Michigan Manufacturer of the Year Award for Large Tier Companies by the Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA).

Shoemaker will continue his work with industry and civic organizations. “I want to increase my engagement to help manufacturing find ways to encourage young people to work in the industry,” he said. “We need to work with education to make the curriculum much more trades-friendly.”

But it won’t be all work for Shoemaker. He said that he plans to spend time traveling with his wife of 37 years, Karen, who joined him in retirement in early September, and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Still, the change is bittersweet. “What I’ll miss the most is the team members here at Morbark. I’ll miss the dealer personnel, as well as the customers I’ve come to know well over the years,” Shoemaker said. “This is the most wholesome, hardworking, down-to-earth group of employees, distributors and customers I’ve ever met in my 50 years in manufacturing.”