Remembering Neil Kruschke Jr. for who he was
A brother's memory
Northeast Ohio lost a talented business person with the tragic Aug. 26 death of Neil Kruschke Jr., former owner and CEO of plastics equipment dealer Stopol Inc. and its auction business, Stopol Auctions LLC.
He had co-founded the Solon company in 1990 with his brother, Don, and father, Neil Sr.
Donald Kruschke, president of Plastics Machinery Group, emailed a poignant statement that must have been incredibly difficult to write.
It reads as follows:
“Words cannot express the shock and deep sorrow we feel in the aftermath of Neil's passing.
While our family, our company and those who knew Neil grieve, we must also pause, reflect and celebrate the life of a remarkable man and philanthropist whose accomplishments in the business world are only eclipsed by his commitment to his family as a loving husband and caring father.
“Neil leaves behind a rich legacy. This legacy begins with his wife and two children. They are living testaments and witnesses to the kind of man he was. At this time, our thoughts, prayers and concerns are first and foremost with the wife and children he adored and cherished. Our hearts break for them and we share their grief. They more than anyone else need our love, support and understanding.
“The heights Neil reached as a businessman are unparalleled. Starting in our family basement with only a dream, his imagination and a relentless drive to succeed, Neil transformed Stopol, Inc. into a multimillion dollar deal maker and trusted consultant in the plastics industry. He did this by staying a step of ahead. A step ahead of the industry. A step ahead of the marketplace. A step ahead of the competition. This approach won him numerous business accolades, including the SME 2007 Distinguished Marketing and Sales Award.
“While so much effort is focused on what Neil did in the business world, it's easy to forget the impact he had on people's lives. A strong proponent of benevolent activity, Neil was involved in a number of philanthropic ventures, including:
The Stopol Hurricane Katrina fund, which benefited people and plastics industry businesses along the Gulf Coast that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
The SPE Scholarship Fund, which raised over $30,000 for the SPE Thermoforming Division's Student Scholarship Fund. The fund helps solidify the long-term future and viability of the plastics industry by helping develop engineering talent.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Flashes of Hope, a national Cleveland-based non-profit organization that creates uplifting portraits of children fighting cancer and other life threatening illnesses.
A free employment placement program for workers of companies that contract with Stopol for auctions and/or liquidations.
The Therapeutic Riding Center
A variety of wildlife and conservation groups, including Ducks Unlimited.
“Neil was more than just a sharp deal maker. He was more than just a successful businessman who gave back to the community through his many charitable endeavors. Neil was a mentor, an inspiration, a trusted adviser and a leader. Most importantly, he was a friend. A friend to me and a friend to the countless others he helped, provided for and guided.
“So many people benefited from the opportunities and support that Neil gave them. He didn't care about degrees or resumes. He cared about people. He had this unique gift of being able to identify people from all walks of life that — if given the appropriate guidance, resources and opportunity — could achieve levels of success they themselves never thought possible.
“If you talk to the people that worked with Neil, they will tell you the countless stories of his caring and generosity: the surprise bonuses and trips; the unexpected gifts ‘just for doing a good job;' his above-and-beyond approach when responding to employees with special needs.
“Neil did all this with a sense of humor, charm, kindness and compassion that is so often absent in the business world.
“While we mourn the loss of a husband, father, brother and friend, we also celebrate the life of a man who dreamed big, lived big, achieved much and loved even more.