Retirement Tribute


Rob Harris has a professional history 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 Marine Transportation Specialist 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 and the manned mission to Mars. He was a young officer on a destroyer during the Vietnam war. He was a construction coordinator 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 and the Columbia. 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.


Don & Nancy Surber

Affiliation: ATF, Inc.

Posted on Thursday, March 8, 2018


Rob - Job well done! Thanks. Nancy and I enjoyed working with you and Pat. Have a happy and healthy retirement! - Don and Nancy Surber


Bob Ralston

Affiliation: Nucor Engineered Bar Group

Posted on Friday, March 2, 2018


Rob - Thank you for your help and expertise over the many years I've known you. Your professionalism was always evident but equally or more important was your kind and friendly manor of handling all situations. You and Pat will be missed but we wish you a long, happy and prosperous retirement. May the winds be steady at your back as you cruise onward. Bob


Max Dorflinger

Affiliation: Precote USA

Posted on Friday, March 2, 2018


Rob, I want to wish you and Pat a healthy and exciting retirement. I'll always cherish our friendship and the great times we had working together. Thank you for making my year as Chairman memorable and introducing me to "Frosty", the white brahma bull.


Steve Beach

Affiliation: ATF

Posted on Thursday, March 1, 2018


Rob, A big thanks for the many years you captained the IFI ship! We have enjoyed many years of success while having a lot of fun in the process. Jennifer and I wish you and Pat the very best in whatever you choose to do next! The very best!


Bev Malcolm

Affiliation: The Meeting Authority

Posted on Thursday, March 1, 2018


Rob - I don't know where to begin... It has been such a pleasure working with you on the IFI meetings for over 16 years. We shared many wonderful times and created some great memories! Thank you for the opportunity you provided me. I genuinely appreciated it and the friendship with you and Pat. I wish you all the best in your retirement and know our paths will continue to cross. Congratulations!


Steve Paddock

Affiliation: Boellhoff

Posted on Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Rob- Congratulations on 22 terrific years leading the IFI! Hard to think of an association with the track record of membership development, participation, fun, (and of course reserves!) that IFI has accomplished over this time. Furthermore, your engagement and encouragement of young leaders in the institute has built a nice bench. Well done!


Mark & Heather Quebbeman

Affiliation: Semblex Corporation

Posted on Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Rob and Pat - Thank you for all the years of hard work and leadership that has built the IFI into a remarkable and forward-looking organization. We are all very grateful for everything you both have done for the IFI, and especially for your friendship over the years. We'll miss you! Hope you have a wonderful, and relaxing, retirement!


Anders Karlsson

Affiliation: EIFI

Posted on Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Dear Rob, thanks for all your support to EIFI during all the years, would like to wish you and Pat all the best for the future, Anders


Ryan Surber

Affiliation: ATF

Posted on Friday, February 23, 2018


Rob, On behalf of the Surber Family, thank you for your years of leadership and service to the fastener industry. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors!


Bill Springer

Affiliation: Industrial Nut Corp.

Posted on Thursday, February 22, 2018


Rob, Many thanks for your friendship and for your years of dedicated service in leading our Institute. When I was approached about serving as an officer of the IFI in the late nineties, my first question was whether Rob would be continuing on as our Director beyond my projected tenure. Fortunately for me and my subsequent successors as Chairman, the answer was yes, and we have all been grateful to you for making our jobs much easier. Best wishes to you and Pat for a long and happy retirement.


Paula Tognetti

Affiliation: MNP Corporation and Division III Chairperson

Posted on Monday, February 19, 2018


Thank you for your many years of service and for being a role model in the industry. Now it's up to the next generation to build on the foundation you've created. Best wishes to you and Pat as you embark on your next journey!


Ed Lumm

Affiliation: Shannon Precision Fastener

Posted on Monday, February 19, 2018


Rob - I have been very lucky in life to have had great Mentors that demonstrated Leadership in their personal and business lives. One of which, Chuck O'Brien, was the conduit and set the foundation for our friendship. The most important things in life are not things at all, they are the people that we meet and the relationships that we develop. You have done an outstanding job as the Leader of our organization which has been recognized by the long list of people more qualified to judge than I. Please know that you are my friend and I thank you for the opportunity to learn from you.


Dave Lomasney

Affiliation: MacLean-Fogg Co.

Posted on Monday, February 19, 2018


Rob & Pat, Job well done and retirement is well deserved! I want to sincerely thank you for taking in a non-fastener guy and making him and his family feel right at home. I will miss our getting together and especially being your budget line item "check and balance"! You were always great support and please accept all our best in the years to come. The Lomasneys, Dave, Margaret, Adam, Megan and Aaron


Porter McLean

Affiliation: ATF, Inc.

Posted on Monday, February 19, 2018


Rob, you have written so many tributes for others through the years, you should probably write your own. However, that would not be in your nature, as under your leadership the IFI was never about you, but you wanted it to be about the member companies and their ownership of the direction for the Institute. You were a master at providing a platform for that to happen with others at the helm, but with the captain keeping a close watch. Your leadership and insight into governmental affairs, coordination with other trade associations and educational institutions have steered the Institute well within the political and industrial networks over the past two decades. Probably your finest accomplishment was having Pat join you to help you navigate the waters through the years. As we worked together coordinating functions, it was fun to get to know the two of you, and Linda and I truly value our friendship with you and Pat. Finally, with respect to Douglas McArthur's soldiers as he closed his career, "Old sailors never die, they just sail away." As you and Pat set your next course in life, Linda and I wish you fair winds and following seas. And, Go Cats!


Ed Plomer

Affiliation: EJOT Fastening Systems

Posted on Monday, February 19, 2018


Rob - Like the other former IFI Chairmen / Chairwomen, I also had the pleasure to work with you and be the beneficiary of your outstanding leadership. You built a solid team and organizational structure that allowed the IFI to sail smooth. The IFI is in a much better position due to your efforts. Kim and I wish you and Pat all the best in retirement.


Jennifer Friel

Affiliation: IFI

Posted on Monday, February 19, 2018


Rob - Great job captaining the IFI through all of the varied personalities of the rotating Chairmen/women. Those were not calm seas in some years! Your (and Pat's) dedication to the IFI and its success set the bar very high for those that follow. You will be missed.


Robert Hill

Affiliation: Hill Fastener & IFI

Posted on Sunday, February 18, 2018


Rob - both your leadership and your friendship have always made it easy to volunteer to serve the IFI in whatever capacity was needed. We will miss your "quiet hand" behind the scenes, guiding the organization in the right direction.


Steve Fischer

Affiliation: Fischer Special

Posted on Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Rob thank you for your leadership, but more than that thanks for your friendship. You and Pat have always been the best. Hope you enjoy retirement. Hope you plan on getting out of Cleveland in the winter.


Bryan Burgy

Affiliation: Rockford Fastener, Inc.

Posted on Monday, February 12, 2018


All chairmen get an eagle trophy after serving, Rob had mine inscribed with the statement "A steady hand on the helm during tumultuous economic times". I am sure this is a reference to both of our own interests in sailing. True 2008/2009 were difficult times, however, the steady hand was Rob. He made being chairman easy, any chairman could put as much or as little into the position as he or she wished. I have to admit at the time I needed to keep much of my attention to my own business. Working with Rob was/is a pleasure.


Preston & Susan Boyd

Affiliation: IFI

Posted on Sunday, February 11, 2018


Rob, I'd like to thank you for all your time, contributions, and the impact you have made for and on behalf of the membership of the IFI these past 22 years. On a more personal note, thanks to you and Pat for your friendship and guidance with Susie and me these last few years. Wishing you both many happy days enjoying this next phase of your lives. Take care!


David Monti

Affiliation: Fall River Manufacturing Company

Posted on Friday, February 9, 2018


Rob - it has been a pleasure knowing you, working with you, and learning from you. Thank you for your leadership and guidance. Some of my best IFI memories are the planning trips Lisa and I had with you and Pat. You are both very kind, special people and you will be missed by all of us that are still in the trenches. Hopefully you will bring that boat up to Narragansett Bay and visit. The entire Monti Family will be waiting.


Jim Springer

Affiliation: Industrial Nut Corp

Posted on Wednesday, February 7, 2018


Rob - It has been a sincere pleasure working with you over the years on behalf of the IFI. Your time at the IFI "helm" may be over, but as a testament to your leadership and character, you leave it as a strong and relevant organization. Thank you for all that you have done for the Institute and its members. Kim and I wish you and Pat happiness in retirement!


Carmen Vertullo

Affiliation: Fastener Consultant, friend

Posted on Sunday, January 28, 2018


Rob- Thank you so much for your leadership, mentorship, and generosity. I met you when the IFI began supporting the FTI training programs some 10 years ago. My friendship and professional affiliation with Joe Greenslade, Salim Brahimi and Laurence Clause - IFI technical heavy hitters - would not be what it is without your generous support of the FTI. Your personal encouragement, respect and presence during my trips to Cleveland over the past 10 years have been one the greatest blessings in my career as a fastener professional. I wish you and yours all the very best. If there is any way that I can ever be of help or assistance to you in any way you know how to get me - I am in your debt. I hope we can stay in touch. Carmen


Jeff Rink

Affiliation: Prestige

Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Rob, you are such an accomplished and cool guy! It has been my pleasure to know you these last few years of your IFI tenure. Wishing you all the best and hoping that we will see you now and then at the Spring and Fall meetings.


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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