Plavecsky's Ponderings By Jim Plavecsky
by Jim Plavecsky
April 30th, 2015

Farewell, Tim Harris

The year was 1986. I was employed as a product manager in the industrial division of a company called Tremco. Tremco was always known as a leader in sealant, roofing and waterproofing technology. At the time, our division was the red-headed step-child of the company, running on the “foolish” premise that a sealant could be combined with a spacer and desiccant to provide an “all-in-one” insulating glass solution.

This would enable the production of insulating glass units with fewer steps, saving labor while also producing IG units of very high quality as well as with a warm-edge benefit. I was new to the fenestration industry, brandishing my chemistry degree, MBA and my eights years of experience as a polymer chemist. Sure, I had good credentials, but I had a lot to learn.

As product manager, I was in charge of operational marketing as well as technical services. One of the technical service associates that reported to me was a man named Tim Harris.

He taught me perhaps one of the most important lessons of my career—let me explain.

The helm of the industrial division was manned by a certain leader, whom we fondly viewed as bipolar. Perhaps he wasn’t bipolar at all, but instead his strategy was to challenge our position by constantly playing the devil’s advocate. He wanted to make sure that we were firmly grounded in our decision-making. He had a military background, so he viewed any wavering as a sign of weakness and the individuals displaying such behavior as downright incompetent. Our leader was either a lunatic or absolutely brilliant, and to this day I am not sure which, but I do know that he challenged us to the very core.

So every day after leaving his office with hair standing on end and the day’s challenge in hand, I would meet with my staff to ask their opinions on how we should proceed. Each person had a view on whether our fearless leader was right or wrong and would voice opinions accordingly. Then Tim would say, “We just need to do what’s the best for the customer. In the end, that’s always the right answer!”

How could you argue with Tim’s approach? After all, the customer is the most important part of the business equation. Without the customer, the company has nothing. Nothing to produce, no one to service, no one to please and no one from which to derive revenue or profit. If the customer isn’t happy, then no one can be happy.

At such a young age, Tim showed the wisdom of an elder. When traveling together, I will always remember that Tim was a brilliant technical leader who just wouldn’t give up until a problem was solved. Later on in the evenings, I’d find great pleasure in sharing a beer with Tim and a laugh or two. With Tim on your team, the night would always end with a feeling of accomplishment. The next day, he was always one of the first ones back in the saddle and ready for the next challenge.

He was a consummate professional and a true friend.

Over the years, jobs and company affiliations changed, but when we crossed paths there was always a great feeling of mutual respect. We still managed to share laughs and talk about the new favorite gun in our collections.

In more recent times, acquisitions by Quanex brought us back together and once again on the same team. The new organization found Tim to be instrumental in cross-training and team-building. Once again, it was all about the customer.

So farewell, my friend. Clear a space in the heavens for the rest of us.

One thing we can be certain of is that with Tim in his deserved place, the windows in Paradise will have the absolute clearest view.

From Gary Netherton, Milgard:

I’d just met Tim Harris in Q1 of 2015. We were working on a project that both Quanex and my company had interest. As I got to know him, our mutual affinity for handguns turned to exchanged personal email addresses and discussions that often strayed outside the task at hand.

I grew to like Tim, personally, and was in utter shock when I got the news very early in the morning from his fellow coworker that he’d passed. My mood was somber the entire rest of the day. I’m sure he’s happy now, where the IGs never fog and the glass is never scratched.

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5 comments
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  1. I too had the opportunity to work early in my career with Tim Harris. His loss is a tragedy.

  2. I met Tim back in 1990 when he was with Tremco setting up our I.G. line at our San Antonio plant. He was very instrumental in training our people and educating us on all aspects of glass fabrication. He was a pleasure to work with and very entertaining as well. I had the pleasure of spending several days with Tim on multiple occasions and he loved what he did and he did it well. Our industry has suffered a great loss with his passing.

  3. Jim,

    First, your ‘Pondering’ is a great tribute to Tim. Second, working and traveling with Tim was such a pleasure. Getting the job done and then enjoying the friendship – absolutely!
    As I think of his untimely death, I recall so, so many fond memories of Tim. Those memories always bring a smile back on my face. So, Mr. Harris, up in Heaven, I promised to never –ever eat the Special Harrisburg Oysters!

  4. Jim,

    What a beautiful tribute!!

    We are all so truly blessed to work with and know each other in this industry. It was such a pleasure to work with Tim!!

    Erin

  5. I have had the honor of knowing Tim Harris for many years. He contributed significantly to our industry with his company and the efforts he gave to IGMA through the committees he chaired and served on. It was always a treat to visit with Tim and catch up on the family and outside activities that we had in common.

    Jim Plavecsky your tribute to Tim is clearly a very nice and appropriate summary of his value to those who knew him. He will be missed.

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