The Next Chapter at Applied Handling – Bruce & Drew Retire

By Karen Zuk

On an early morning in June, Applied Handling Employees opened an email from AHI President Bruce Bacon. This email titled “The Next Chapter” announced not only Bruce’s retirement, but the retirement of his brother, Drew as well. The announcement wrapped up a chapter which began in 1977 when Drew and Bruce along with brother in law Jim Thiem transitioned into managing the business upon the 1982 retirement of their Father (and founder) Robert Bacon.  Jim retired in 2000, but Bruce and Drew remained to carry on the vision of their Dad.

A quick informal meeting was called, goodbyes were said and then I asked Bruce if he was going to write one of his famous blogs; alas, he was not. So, here I go trying to outline my thoughts of two men I have known for 15 years.  I may not the best qualified to write this and I will never do them justice, but here goes.

Bruce & Drew the Story Tellers

First thing you must know about Bruce and Drew. BOTH are EXCELLENT story tellers. This is evident if you read the “Our History” section on the About page which was written by Bruce. However, having the luxury of hearing the story in person (from either) is the BEST.  Bruce would tell you that he had one semester left at Michigan State when he left to go full time into a sign business he started 4 years earlier. Drew will tell you about his escapades traveling the US with his Uncle Bill who was a photographer, or his ‘interesting’ (think groovy 70’s) adventures while living in California. Neither seemed to know at the time but loading dock equipment was their destiny. So, upon the request of their Dad, they joined the team, learned the business and stayed.  Collectively they had 84 years at Applied Handling, and their Father would be very proud.

Zuk Meets Drew

I will never forget the first time I met (or um…heard) Drew.  I was answering the phones at the front desk and out of one of the offices came a very boisterous and infectious laugh. There may have also been an expletive or two. I had never worked in an office where you spoke above a low professional whisper, and here was this inviting laugh coming from the Vice President’s Office.  Instantly, I knew this was the perfect working environment.

Then there is Drew’s love of Art. Drew is a collector and admirer; and I am an Artist. He always brought me great stories about visiting various exhibits in his travels, or told me of artist documentaries he had seen. Drew was also so kind about my art; and I brought in A LOT for him to see. I appreciated his courtesy, and interest. I am going to miss our discussions, and his daily talks with the Admin team.

Zuk Meets Bruce (?)

I have tried to remember when I first met Bruce; did I interview with him? Did I meet him that first day? And I am so sorry, but I am just not sure.  As unimpressionable as our first meeting was, the lasting impression Bruce made on me is immense. Bruce is someone who cares about his employees, and his door was always open (except for when it was closed). You could walk into his office for a lively talk, not only about business, but about what was happening in life.  Not to mention, every day, every time he came by my desk to say hello he would say this exactly “Hi Zukkity Bookity”.

Bruce is like a one-man welcome committee at events and always took great care in making spouses feel like they are part of the team. He gave great conversation; and it was appreciated, but that’s how it is at Applied Handling. The mission of being a team starts at the top; and Bruce is one of the best.  Whenever you have a birthday, you can expect an email or text. Thanks, Bruce, for your thoughtfulness.

The Next Chapter.1 – The FUTURE!

Of course, with Bruce’s announcement comes the transition to a new President & Executive Vice President. Congratulations to former partner & former Vice President of Sales now President; Scott Murray, & former partner & CFO; now Executive Vice President & CFO Craig Sturgis. Good news is we already know these guys and they, like Bruce and Drew, will move forward with the same vision as our Founder Robert Bacon. Plus, they are both amazing golfers (I know to say the right thing). Applied Handling, there is no stopping us now…. was there ever?  Congrats & Best wishes to Bruce, Drew, Scott and Craig – life changes for everyone; change is good right?  If you don’t believe me; here is a little quote I found:

“LIFE IS LIKE UNDERWEAR CHANGING IT IS GOOD”

Now an embarrassing slideshow of Bruce & Drew.  Thanks for the memories!