It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that Ron Katz, retired Chairman and CEO of Elkay, passed away on Oct. 19, surrounded by his loving family.
Ron was a visionary leader and his wisdom guided Elkay through a period of incredible growth. Son of Louis Katz and Grandson of Leopold Katz, Elkay’s founders, Ron cemented Elkay as one of the leading Plumbing Manufacturers in the U.S. Ron worked his way up from his first role as a part-time employee on Elkay’s shop floor. He made it his business to understand the company and the customers we serve inside out and from the bottom up. He accepted a seat on the Elkay Board of Directors in 1963 and continued to accept a variety of strategic positions within the company, including President and Chief Operating Officer in 1983. Ron was elected Elkay Vice Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer in 1985 and became Elkay Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer the following year. He retired as CEO in 2007 and from the board in 2020.
During Ron’s lifetime he had many passions. Cars, planes, boats, basically anything that had an engine that could be tweaked to elicit a bit more performance would bring a twinkle to his eye. Ron was a supporter of many charities during his lifetime, including The University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, The Chicago Hope Society, Lighthouse for the Blind, among others. But his biggest passion in life, and what he was most proud of, was always the company – its people, products, reps and successes.
Ron leaves an indelible mark on the industry and all of us who had the pleasure to know him. He knew that it is the people of this company that make it so special, and that WE supply the ingenuity, creativity, and passion that fuel our successes. Ron always challenged us to do our best, to give it our all and to make the company better.
Ron is survived by his best friend and life partner Cheryl Coleman, as well as his three daughters, Aimee Katz, April Katz and Patti Bauer. He has four grandchildren, two great grandchildren, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
In Ron’s memory, our company Foundation will be establishing a new $24,000 college scholarship in his name. The new Ron Katz scholarship will be awarded annually to a child/stepchild of a Zurn Elkay associate in addition to the other scholarships available.
Todd A. Adams
Chairman and CEO
Zurn Elkay Board Member and Retired Elkay Chairman and CEO