I’m very sad to bring you the news that Bill Wheaton passed away on Saturday, January 7th, after an unsuccessful bought with pancreatic cancer. R.I.P. My condolences to Bill's family.
I first met Bill, at an IRgA Convention, when he was working for Dietzgen. Several years later, he purchased Torrence Reprographics in Charlotte, NC. Fantastic guy. Bill sold Torrence to ARC in early 2007.
I did not know Bill well, but I have many industry friends who were very close to Bill, and I’m positive that those who had the pleasure of being friends with Bill, would echo the sentiment of an e-mail I received from one of Bill’s former team members at Torrence.
Here’s the e-mail I mentioned above:
I have followed your blog almost since it's inception and was fortunate enough to enter the business with the help of the Hackworth's in Va back in 1995 a year after graduating from college. My career then led me to Ridgways, working with Mike Canino, as a sales executive, then finally to Torrence, where I was able to work for a legend in the business, Bill Wheaton. There are very few things in life that you get to experience, that change you as a person truly for the better but being employed by Bill was one of them. Not only did the man have the deepest respect of his peers he was lightyears smarter than most anyone I have ever come across. The reason he enjoyed the business was the same reason as I, it was a family you got to see everyday. He always treated us with so much respect, overpaid us for what we did for the company and brought a since of life, and how the world works style everyday; I had the chance to interact with him.
I recall when ARC came to Charlotte, NC looking for another firm to purchase how Bill first asked the employees if they were interested in buying him out, even offering to finance a good portion of the business. We all passed reluctantly ( as we knew it would not be the same without him) but it showed where is loyalties were.... However, we also got to see what made Bill so smart as a business man and how we could always maximize situations better than anyone, always with a smile..... When we were purchased we had annual sales around 4mill and as i recall and he sold the business for 3.5mil.... One savvy move however was that Bill owned the building right in the heart of the Queen City Downtown and he negotiated the second highest rent per month that ARC paid nationally right behind its Boston location. I recall Bill saying he made more profit after the transaction than he ever did before and locked that price in for a long time thereafter.....again a little tid bit but he was so darn likable you almost give away the farm just to hear the man talk about business and reprographics to anyone who would listen...
I just wanted you to know about him if you did not, and that his passing this Saturday ( of pancreatic cancer) cut short a much deserved retirement but he touched alot of us and I truly give him a lot of credit for making me the man I am today.....
If you could share to all the RSA, IRGA and others who Bill may have known I would be grateful. Having grown up in Holland Michigan and starting his career with FORD, then in Chicago working for DIETZGEN (which opened his eyes to the world of blueprinting) in it's hay day, Bill bought Torrence a few months before Hurricane Hugo hit NC hard....in the late 80's, and never looked back... I admire him and miss him and he truly one of the great ones in the world of reprographics ....