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Generac Mourns the Passing of Robert Kern | Waukesha Co. Business News

WAUKESHA — Generac Power Systems, Inc., announced Wednesday morning that Robert D. Kern, the company’s founder, passed away on Tuesday, November 8. Kern was 96 years old.

According to a Generac statement, Kern started the company with five employees in a garage in Wales, Wisconsin. An engineer by trade, he built Generac into an industry leader through new product development and innovation in the generator and engine markets.

Generac was the first company to commercialize portable engine-driven generator sets and the use of these technologies expanded into other markets, including permanently installed emergency backup generators used to protect critical infrastructure, homes and businesses around the world, according to the statement. .

After nearly five decades of incredible growth and leadership, Kern sold his company in 2006 to focus on philanthropy. Generac subsequently became a public company in 2010 and today is one of the world’s leading companies focused on energy technology-related products and solutions.

“Bob’s passing is a great loss for the Generac family and the community at large,” said Aaron Jagdfeld, president and chief executive officer. “His forward-thinking vision of him laid a strong foundation for what Generac is today. I had the great honor of working with Bob for nearly 15 years, and he continued to serve as a mentor to me and others well into his retirement. He was a true entrepreneur in every sense of the word, as his work ethic, tenacity and innovative spirit are the epitome and defining characteristics that endure in our Company today.”

In addition to providing opportunities for thousands of employees and their families through his leadership at Generac, Kern also believed strongly in giving back and making a difference in the community. He and his late wife, Patricia, established the Kern Family Foundation in 1998 with a mission to improve lives by promoting the value of work, developing character building, increasing educational achievement and instilling an entrepreneurial mindset. The Kern Family Foundation has generously donated to numerous local organizations in the Milwaukee area, including life-changing gifts to the Milwaukee School of Engineering, the Medical College of Wisconsin, and the Marquette University College of Engineering. In addition to local area donations, the Foundation has been active in supporting many nationally focused programs, causes and organizations.

in initiatives that have a long-term systemic impact. These include generous gifts to create the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery to help improve patients’ health care experiences, as well as the creation of the Mayo Clinic Engineering Network. Kern business and significant education-related funds. for programs like Project Lead the Way.

Kern is survived by his three daughters, as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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