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Norbert Allen Newman

In Memoriam: Robert C. Hudson, H.D. Hudson Co.

robert c. hudson jr.Robert C. Hudson Jr., passed away peacefully and with grace on June 24, 2022, in his Chicago home.

Mr. Hudson was the fourth generation chairman emeritus of H.D. Hudson Manufacturing Co., which his great-grandfather started in 1905. Headquartered in Lowell, Michigan, the company is a leader in spraying and dusting equipment for controlling insects, plant diseases and weeds. Mr. Hudson was particularly proud of the company’s activities in public health where the company’s products are instrumental in saving lives around the world by killing mosquitoes that carry diseases like malaria.

Mr. Hudson was born on May 4, 1928, in Los Angeles, California, and educated in the public schools of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Cook County, Illinois, and the University of Minnesota. His company activities began informally at the age of six when he sold several dozen sprayers to a Minneapolis retailer. He spent most of his school vacations working for the company on various jobs—in the office, in the warehouse, as well as on assembly lines where he helped produce many of the company’s products.

In 1949, Mr. Hudson began his business career as a salesman in the company’s International Division. After several years of selling overseas, he served in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army. Next, he sold for the company in the U.S. and was later appointed district sales manager. He eventually served as the company’s third president and its second chairman, a position to which he was elected in 2003.

Mr. Hudson was an inspired innovator having held scores of U.S. and world patents representing real innovation in the sprayer applicator markets. Of note, in the early 1970s, Mr. Hudson invented the Hudson Cordless Electric Sprayer. A first of its kind, battery-operated piston pump sprayer which won the IR100 Award for best innovation the same year Xerox won for Xerography. Additionally, he invented a full line of ready-to-use sprayers that were carried by every major chemical company in the U.S. Mr. Hudson brought injection and blow molding capabilities into the enterprise’s core competencies. This led to several advancements in molding technologies.

Mr. Hudson led the expansion of his company, and in the early 1980s built a factory in Hong Kong leading to another factory in mainland China. Mr. Hudson was closely identified with hardware, agricultural, garden, industrial and public health fields through professional and personal activities.

Mr. Hudson loved God, his country and his family. His life’s passion was his business, and he admired and respected the individuals working in the company as they worked together to build and perpetuate what became a business with an unparalleled global reputation. Mr. Hudson instilled the strong corporate values that still exist in the culture of the company today. Mr. Hudson was president of the American Hardware Manufacturers’ Association and previously served on the executive committee as an officer of the association and an honorary member of its board of directors. In 1972, he received the “Man of the Year” award from that association’s Young Executive Club for “outstanding achievements in and contributions to the hardware industry.” He was past president of the Associate Members Division of the American Seed Trade Association and served as a member of the Industry Development Committee of the National Wholesale Hardware Association. He was a director of the Hardware Institute for Research and Development. He was president of the Hardware Group Association and was an advisory board member. He served twice as president of the National Sprayer and Duster Association, as president of the Barn Equipment Association, as director of the Farm and Industrial Equipment Institute and former president of its Agri-equipment division. He served as a member of an industry volunteer segment of the World Health Organization dealing with insecticide and application equipment used to combat insect borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and Chagas’ disease.

Mr. Hudson and his late wife, Oralia, have four children: three sons, Robert C. III (wife Sarah, son David, daughter Katherine, grandchildren Vivian, Benjamin, Gabriel, Wyatt and Elliott); D. James (deceased), (wife Barbara, daughters Jennifer, Elizabeth and Devon, grandchildren Jaxon and Alexandra); William A. (wife Patrice, daughters Michelle, Carolyn, Rachel and Jane). A daughter Susan Oralia is deceased. In August 1976, Mr. Hudson and his wife, Oralia welcomed into their family beloved Armida Betty Perez-Koukounaras (husband Dennis, son Constantine).

“There were few individuals who better represented their commitment to the home improvement industry than Robert Hudson,” says North American Hardware and Paint Association chief operating officer Dan Tratensek. “The Hudson family and the entire H.D. Hudson Co. have been pillars of this community for decades, and Robert will be sorely missed. I would encourage everyone to learn more about Robert and what he and his company did to elevate their employees, their brand, the industry and the welfare of so many people around the globe. The story is truly inspiring.”

About Melanie Moul

Melanie is the communications and content manager for the North American Hardware and Paint Association. She joined the NHPA team in 2016 as an editor for Hardware Retailing and now helps lead the communications team to deliver relevant, timely content to the industry.

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