On June 11, 2020 Spencer Dick left the world a far more interesting place than he had found it on September 23, 1954. He made an indelible mark on the manufacturing and automation industries and the lives of makers across the globe with his brilliant inventions.
Upon his death, Spencer has accumulated over 100+ patents for ideas in various realms of manufacturing, automation, and lineal positioning processes.
At a very young age Spencer had a laser-like focus. He printed business cards as a small boy, reading “Cabinet Maker, Beekeeper, and Entrepreneur”. He was a visionary through and through. His remarkable foresight, and sheer grit led him down a path of trials, tribulations, failures, and ultimately great successes in business and in life.
He cultivated a love of woodworking during shop classes in boarding school. Spencer went on to the London College of Furniture to perfect his craftsmanship skills, and eventually Harvard Business School. Spencer loved information, and his curiosity and entrepreneurial spirit propelled him forward in life.
He began the Oak Street Furniture Group, then Benchmark, a high-end custom cabinetry company. It struck Spencer that few employees could read a tape measure very well. This resulted in an inability to quickly, accurately, and repeatably, cut wood for his kitchen cabinets, and an insurmountable loss of money, wasted labor hours, and miscut material that had to be scrapped.
Spencer set out to solve this problem, and in his home garage in 1994 he invented a machine for automated lineal processing that could be adapted to nearly any tool and position material accurately for cutting, drilling, and punching. Spencer, along with his wife Mary, took the new concept to the International Woodworking Fair in 1994. Spencer was told he would have to get a “real job” if the idea was a flop. After three painstaking days of no sales, Mary excused a very agitated and nervous Spencer to leave the booth for some fresh air. Upon his return, Mary presented him with 6 machinery orders. And thus, a beautiful business partnership was born. TigerStop is now the global leader in automated stop gauge positioners and fully automated sawing systems, with a factory in Vancouver, WA, and another in The Netherlands.
Spencer has always been adamantly clear about his mission to empower local manufacturers to be globally competitive. He had an unquenchable work ethic and will be honored each and every day by his wife, Mary, son, Nathaniel, and daughter, Elizabeth, all of whom will continue seeing through Spencer’s mission into the future.
While we are immensely saddened by Spencer’s death, we find joy and comfort in carrying on his vast legacy. He completely altered the landscape of manufacturing and his inventions have helped many reduce unnecessary waste in their businesses so they can compete. Spencer was a true champion of the underdog. He loved problem solving and the idea of leveling the playing field for all. Spencer gave us all so many gifts.
One way to honor Spencer’s life is to make a donation to the Liposarcoma Genome Project at Massachusetts General Hospital. Spencer founded this incredible research project to comprehensively define the molecular makeup of his rare cancer, liposarcoma, so that treatments with better efficacies could help others too. Spencer received treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital for 23 years. He never once gave up the fight.
Founded in 1994, TigerStop products help optimize and improve the accuracy of all lineal processes by automating cutting, boring, punching, and machining processes.
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