Robert W. “Doc” Hall

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Robert W. “Doc” Hall passed away on February 16, 2024 at the age of 86. He was a native Hoosier but lived in Hondo, Texas since 2006 with his wife of 18 years, Sandra Stiles (Brown).

His surviving children are Michael R. Hall and wife Myrna of Worthington, Mark A. Hall and wife Marilyn of Worthington and Jan Hall Cooley and husband Fred of Naples, Fla.. He has seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, Clone G. Hall and Faye Hall and his first wife and mother of his children, Emma Kay (Miller) Hall, originally of Worthington.

Robert received a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. He was a US Army veteran, Corps of Engineers. Early in his career, he worked with Eli Lilly and Union Carbide as a chemical engineer. He went on to get an MBA and finally a Doctorate in Business and Operations Management, both from Indiana University. He was Professor Emeritus of Operations Management in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University for 33 years.

In 1985, Dr. Hall became a founding member for the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME), a non-profit that focused on overcoming the slip in America’s industrial edge. For 22 years, he was editor in chief of AME’s publication “Target.” In 2002, he was honored as the first recipient of AME’s lifetime achievement award. In 2006, he received the gold medal for lifetime achievement from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

Doc, as he is known in industry, helped design several awards such as AME’s “Best Company” award and Industry Week magazine’s “America’s 10 Best Plants” awards, becoming an examiner for both. He also judged for the “Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award” and the “Pace Award”, a guide for innovation among auto industry suppliers.

In the 1970s, Doc compared American and Japanese manufacturing, investigating what we today call lean operations. In 1982, he wrote “Zero Inventories” detailing how lean operations should follow people-centered leadership instead of blind concentration on operational productivity. In 1992, he wrote “The Soul of the Enterprise” foreshadowing his latest book, “Compression”, which entreats the mindset required to overcome diminishing resources.

Doc was on the board of Indiana Members Credit Union for 30 years. He was also the chairman of the Compression Institute, an organization dedicated to the continuous improvement principles of wringing more from less, now transferred to Ramapo College in New Jersey.

His legacy of “do better using less” continues to exert a profound influence on businesses throughout North America and the world. He will be missed.