Raymond J. Zukowski, who spent 60 years growing Euclid Industries into a leading provider of heavy-duty aftermarket parts before it was sold to Meritor, recently died at age 91.
He took over a company founded by his father, Zygmunt, who immigrated to the U.S. from Poland. Under the younger Zukowski’s leadership, Euclid grew to become a leading provider of replacement parts for air and hydraulic brakes, suspension, wheel attaching, and front-end parts. He came up with Euclid’s distinctive “yellow box” packaging, developed detailed product catalogs, and created a knurled design for brake shoe rollers that has become standard, according to daughter Michele Canty, who at one time was vice president of corporate affairs at Euclid Industries.
The business grew from a small machine shop manufacturing parts to an industry leader, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. Meritor purchased Euclid in 1998 and continues to market a Euclid-branded line separately from its Meritor aftermarket brand.
Canty told HDT that her father’s firm belief in customer service and product education led to Euclid investing considerable resources to provide technical training school sessions for its wholesale distributor counter and field salesmen, both at Euclid headquarters and at WD and fleet locations.
Zukowski was presented with the Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network 2009 Heavy Duty Lifetime Achievement Award.
A 2002 article in Cleveland Smart Business wrote about he had worked for decades to diversify the company’s product line.
“They can now order product that covers what they would probably purchase from 90 to 100 different suppliers,” Zukowski told the publication. “Instead, they are able to place orders with one supplier. It’s a supermarket-type approach. With one supplier there’s one order, one receipt, one shipment. It’s easier for them to make prepaid freight and get additional discounts, have one warranty, one catalog and one part-numbering system. It’s what’s given us a big advantage.”
In addition to his wife, Mary Ann, Zukowski is survived by daughters Ann Marie Wakeen (husband Kenneth), Michele Canty (husband Michael), and Christine Zukowski, as well as two grandchildren.