BendPak Inc., a global manufacturer and marketer of vehicle service equipment and specialty consumer products, has announced changes to its executive team, effective Aug. 3. President Don Henthorn, who has led the company since establishing it in 1965, will take on a more limited role in its daily operations as chairman emeritus. Jeff Kritzer will be promoted from executive vice president to succeed Henthorn as president and CEO. At the same time, Rudy Diaz will step up from vice president of information technology to executive vice president and chief operating officer (COO). Jim Fornear moves from financial controller to chief financial officer (CFO). Rounding out the leadership team, Javier Arias continues in the critical role of vice president of operations.
Henthorn will be active in an advisory capacity to ensure a seamless transition of leadership and will serve as a business mentor who will share his experience and wisdom.
“All of us at BendPak are grateful for Don’s continued service to the company and his solid contributions to our success. We look forward to his ongoing guidance and direction during this transitionary period,” Kritzer said. “Since 1965, his leadership, mentoring style, and embodiment of our company values and traditions have helped establish our winning culture. We have some very big shoes to fill, but through his mentorship and shaping of our company’s work ethic and culture, we believe our market dominance will continue.”
Kritzer has held many roles over the 40 years he has worked at BendPak, including national sales manager, president of sales and senior vice president of marketing. For the past three years as executive vice president, he has applied his experience to help grow BendPak’s multi-faceted brands and divisions. He has managed aggressive product development and engineering initiatives, enhanced supply chain and transportation efficiencies, increased distribution channels, and developed marketing strategies that have helped transform BendPak into a lifestyle brand. In addition to his work for BendPak, Kritzer also serves the industry as an active member of the Automotive Lift Institute (ALI), where he is chairman of the board of directors.
“I am excited for Jeff to assume the president’s role as part of our long-term succession plan,” Henthorn said. “Jeff has been a driving force in the success of our company in the 40 years since he joined our organization. He is widely respected by our team for his hard work, integrity, and straightforward style, and with his continued leadership, he will be a superb steward of our culture. I am confident that with Jeff and the rest of the executive team in place, BendPak is well-positioned to continue delivering on our brand promise to better serve our customers around the world.”
Diaz joined BendPak as vice president of information technology (IT) in June 2011. As executive vice president and COO, he will continue to enhance information technologies such as cloud computing and big data analytics to help streamline processes and increase productivity, while improving cybersecurity protections and security upgrades to reduce corporate risk. His COO role includes responsibilities across various departments, including human resources, operations, and office administration.
Diaz has more than 30 years of experience in information technology and security. Prior to joining BendPak, he held a senior IT leadership position with American Tire Distributors (ATD), one of the largest independent tire distributors in North America. He also enjoyed a nearly two-decade tenure with Am-Pac Tire Distributors/Tire Pros, a nationwide wholesale distributor based in Simi Valley, California.
Fornear has served as financial controller since joining BendPak in November 2019. As CFO, he will be instrumental in managing the company’s budgeting and forecasting processes, financial strategies, profitability, and risk management.
Fornear began crafting his finance skills as a public accountant with a mid-size CPA firm in Southern California before joining John Deere, where he demonstrated leadership abilities in the manufacturing sector, delivering problem-solving and cost-effective management strategies.
“These exciting leadership changes follow a multi-year succession planning process,” said Henthorn. “Managing BendPak and its many divisions and brands to ensure long-term growth requires a thoughtful and orderly succession-planning process. The board of directors and management have worked hard to identify and prepare our new generation of leaders to ensure continuity and, more importantly, to maintain and build upon our culture and core values.”