Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Remembering Bob Angel, WERC Lifetime Member, whose desire for warehouse-specific professional education led to the organization’s creation
As a charter member of the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC), Bob Angel was awarded Lifetime Member status in 1998. Although Angel has since passed away, his peers shared their recollections of his contributions to the organization.
In the late 1970s Angel was a logistics executive at Shell Chemical, recalls his fellow charter member Ken Ackerman, who also holds a Lifetime Membership.
“Bob was a customer of my consulting firm, and in 1977 he reached out to me to express his frustration with a warehousing association that would not allow him to participate in their annual conference sessions because he wasn’t a member of their group,” Ackerman says. “He was told, ‘you're welcome to come and play golf, use the swimming pool and have a drink with our members, but you can't come to our sessions because they’re secret.’”
Ackerman and Angel agreed the situation was strange. They also agreed that their profession lacked an organization focused solely on disseminating information about different techniques, trends and resources exclusively about warehousing.
The two—who have since come to be known as “the fathers of WERC”—spread the word among their peers, and 17 of them met that August to discuss a solution. A few weeks later, at a second meeting, WERC was officially incorporated, with Angel taking on the role of secretary in the first Board of Directors. Later, in 1980, Angel served as Chair of the Annual Conference, themed “The Warehouse: The Vital Link.”
Charter member Bruce Abels—elected as the first WERC Board President (and the only person to hold in that role for three consecutive terms, from 1977 to 1980) and who also holds a Lifetime Membership—served with Angel on the WERC Board.
He remembers, “Bob was very much down to earth, not flashy at all, but very genuine—and I suspect he was a lot smarter than he let on. We worked together well on the Board.”
Having observed Angel, Ackerman and Abels as they collaborated tirelessly on the WERC board and repeatedly demonstrated their dedication to the organization, Thomas Sharpe, WERC Lifetime Member and WERC Executive Director from 1985 to 2000, says he often thought of the trio as “The Dynamic A’s.”
“I did not know Bob Angel very well, but I do know he was very active and supportive of WERC in the early days of its existence,” Sharpe adds. “Along with other early WERC participants, he did much to ensure WERC’s growth and evolution over a very long time span.”
Concludes Ackerman: “All of us who were involved in the creation of the organization—including Bob—shared a vision of what WERC could be and it’s very gratifying to see that it’s still around after 40 years.”
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