Ken Melrose, Toro’s long-time leader, dies at 79

A legend in the business of golf died this month. Kendrick “Ken” B. Melrose was 79 when he passed away on May 3, 2020. In his obituary in the Orlando Sentinel, his family wrote, “Ken is fondly remembered as a humble, kind, philanthropic Servant Leader, and a jokester who loved to make people smile.”

Melrose was a Florida native who worked for The Toro Company for 36 years. He held several different leadership positions while on staff from 1970 to 2006 — including becoming the company’s president in 1981 and the CEO in 1983.  During the 80s he helped the organization climb out of a financial hole. Melrose did it all without taking credit. Instead he insisted it was the employees who made it happen. 

“The culture he instilled continues as a positive influence and will guide The Toro Company long into the future,” current CEO of The Toro Company, Rick Olsen, said in a press release. 

In 1995, Melrose authored Making the Grass Greener on Your Side: A CEO’s Journey to Leading by Serving. In the book Ken wrote, “everyone has the potential to contribute to achieving the goals of the company. If you unleash that potential, market leadership and financial success will be natural by-products.”

After retiring from The Toro Company in 2006, Melrose founded Leading by Service, LLC. He traveled all over teaching others about ethics, business cultures and the principles of servant-leadership; something that he used to always say was inherited by his parents who told him the purpose of life is to serve others.

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