Retirement Tribute


Rob Harris has a professional history and that is varied and rich with amazing experiences. Rob grew up in the Blue Grass State, Kentucky. He graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, NY, then completed a Masters in International Finance from College of William & Mary, followed by an MBA from DePaul University. His experiences include Port Captain with Amoco International Oil Co. and Fleet Captain with SOHIO/BP. He was also corporate VP for an Aerospace company producing astronaut life support and propulsion systems for NASA shuttle and space station programs. He was a gunboat Captain during the Vietnam war. He oversaw the construction of all ships built for Amoco around the world. He is a private pilot who once owned a Rockwell Commander, single engine four-seater with retractable gear. He was a competitive yacht sailor, and while in college sailed in the America’s Cup on the Weatherly. AMAZING!

Rob joined the Industrial Fasteners Institute (IFI) in 1995 as Managing Director. His first and most significant impact was to stabilize IFI’s financial situation, which he did in part by directly overseeing industry trade shows in Cleveland and Chicago for six years, adding three quarters of a million dollars to reserves. Then, with Institute leadership he reorganized IFI Divisions and rationalized dues resulting in reserves now being at the two years’ operating cost level of $2.1 million. He also relocated IFI headquarters from downtown Cleveland to co-location with PMA reducing annual operating and staffing costs by about $400,000.


A major challenge facing the fastener industry in the 1990s was the Fastener Quality Act (FQA). With Rob’s leadership and strong membership support, IFI reversed the industry’s stance on the FQA and succeeded, with the assistance of representatives in Washington, in amending the FQA to the industry’s benefit.


Rob mobilized membership participation through the successful publication of the 7th, 8th and 9th Inch Fastener Standards and 3rd Metric Fastener Standards editions. He changed the production of the books from conventional printing to desktop publishing, literally saving years of preparation and hundreds of thousands of dollar in production costs for each revision.


Rob’s most enduring legacy is his efforts to reorganize staff and to hire widely recognized industry leaders into key technical and divisional leadership positions. Rob’s philosophy has been to hire best available personnel, get everyone on the same page, then get out of their way to let them succeed!


Rob formally retired from his position at the Institute on December 31, 2017. IFI and the fastener industry at large are grateful to have benefitted from Rob Harris’ leadership and his significant contributions. Thank you, Rob!



We invite you to share your thoughts and photos in celebration of Rob’s legacy.


Mike Lynch

Affiliation: ITW Ret.

Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2018


When government found the fastener industry and blamed it in abstentia for several horrible mishaps, it was Rob’s understanding of his members, their suppliers and their customers wherein he coalesced them to fight debilitating regulation and other threats successfully. He thereafter held them together in vigilance these many years when other industries would have relaxed and turned their backs in the naive belief they were safe from further scrutiny. Rob, your and Pat’s retirement is well earned and deserved. Melina’s and my best wishes to you both.


Salim Brahimi

Affiliation: IFI

Posted on Thursday, January 11, 2018


Rob - thank you for all you have done! Cathy, Sarah, Josh and I are looking forward to see in in Kiawah. All the best!


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