Founder of BendPak, Don Henthorn, passes at 85

March 29, 2024
Don Henthorn introduced the company's first four-post lift in 1983.

Don Henthorn, BendPak's founder and owner, passed away in his home on March 28, at the age of 85. 

Henthorn transition day-to-day management to the current leadership team at BendPak in 2022 as part of an established succession plan. He served as chairman emeritus, continuing to coach the team and coming to the office six days a week. 

"Don's visionary leadership and unwavering dedication have been the cornerstone of BendPak's success," said Jeff Kritzer, BendPak president and CEO. "His legacy lives on through the values and principles he instilled in our company. He was not only a leader but also a mentor, inspiring all of us to strive for excellence and to never settle for anything else."

At 19, Henthorn enlisted in the U.S. Army. He met his wife, Virginia Ann "Ginger" Eib, while stationed in Connecticut, and they were married two days after he was discharged in 1959.  Three days later, they moved out to California where Henthron began a career in the aerospace industry. With the knowledge he had acquired, he started Quality Machine & Associates (QMA), a job shop that specialized in precision machine work for aerospace and defense giants like Rocketdyne, Rockwell, and Hughes Aircraft. 

Eventually, discontent with the workload of a job shop, Henthron labored after hours to develop and patent specialty tools QMA could market. By the 1970s, Henthorn was focused on building equipment for the muffler shop industry. In 1977, he oversaw the construction of the company's first new building. Two years later, QMA introduced a hydraulic tubing bender for muffler shops, inspiring Henthron to change the company name to match. Thus, BendPak was born. 

Today, BendPak has manufacturing and distribution facilities around the world and employs more than 275 people. 

According to representatives from BendPak, Henthorn was a believer in hard work. He was the first person in the door every day, Monday through Saturday. 

"We at BendPak wholeheartedly hold the philosophy that only going above and beyond on every product, for every customer, will keep us growing in this business," Henthron wrote in a letter to customers on Bendpak.com. "When BendPak started, I was the sole name and voice attached to the company's product development and operations. Today, Bendpak exists beyond the control of just a few sharp minds. The hundreds of employees we hold dear are heard from and appreciated on a daily basis, which is why people continue to want to work here, and it's why we'll continue to thrive for generations to come."

Henthorn could often be found out in the shop tinkering and inventing things. He also enjoyed golfing and sharing memories with friends, family, and colleagues. Henthorn is survived by his wife, Ginger, daughter, Susan, and grandchildren Annika, Reagan, Carson, and Kennedy. He was preceded in death by his son, Gary.

Sponsored Recommendations

Snap-on Training: Approach to Intermittent Problems

Snap-on's live training sessions can help you develop your own strategy for approaching vehicle repair.

Snap-on Training: ADAS Level 2 - Component Testing

The second video for Snap-on's comprehensive overview of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), covering the fundamental concepts and functionalities essential for automotive...

Snap-on Training: Intro to ADAS

Snap-on's training video provides a comprehensive overview of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), covering the fundamental concepts and functionalities essential for automotive...

Snap-on Training: Guided Component Tests Level 2

The second video for Snap-on's comprehensive overview of Guided Component Tests, covering the fundamental concepts essential for diagnostic procedures.

Voice Your Opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Vehicle Service Pros, create an account today!