Editor’s End Note
|My modeling fee was cookies
My part in the company
As a toddler I was paid in cookies for modeling
with the product. At age nine I worked in the shipping department pasting
labels on crates and made $25 for a summer. Dad, Bud Onan, let me come to the
shop after school whenever I wanted, and then go home with him at the end of
the day. So, we talked a lot about what was going on. About the time I was a
junior in high school I started working summers as a draftsman. I enjoyed being
at a big drafting table. It was fun learning from the other draftsmen, many who
produced real works of industrial art. Dad usually spent some part of the day
in drafting, working with Al Fleury or Ole Aho on one pet project or another.
After a year at the University of Minnesota in
Engineering School, I was back working full time. It was a drafting job that
turned into a sales job in a mobile product display. A year or so later when
this was over, I went back to engineering to work on engine development. Most
of my time was spent on the small diesel engines. Improving the old models and
then development of the J series diesel. In June, 1962 I presented a paper to
the Society of Automotive Engineers in Atlantic City, NJ, on the development of
the J series product line.
With a couple transition assignments, I began what
was called Product Planning or just plain Planning. This involved advertising,
sales promotion, market research and product planning. While we liked to think
the company was now marketing driven by Roy Mullin, in fact there were a lot of
engineering and technical considerations that had to be justified with market
considerations. I helped facilitate bringing these interests together.
My last effort was giving up my conference table
for the planning of the new building in Fridley. I left the company in 1968
with my name on a new office I never occupied. The 15 years I worked at the
company were a lifetime of experience. I rubbed shoulders with people who were
the best in their field. I was blessed.
David W. Onan II
October 6, 2012