The 80/20 Foundation Trust, now doing business as The Don Wood Foundation, was born from the legacy of Don Wood, 80/20 Inc. co-founder. The foundation aims to fill the pipeline for skilled workers in the manufacturing industry, as well as to foster leadership, sales, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirits.
The foundation started in fall 2017 and received its nonprofit status in summer 2018, awarding the very first grant within that same summer.
In December 2018, the foundation planted its roots in downtown Columbia City on the Northwest corner of the courthouse square.
Laura Macknick was named Executive Director in January 2019. She brings almost 20 years of experience in nonprofit fundraising, grant writing, communications, public relations, and nonprofit management to the foundation.
This foundation is the result of a dream by Don Wood, founder of 80/20 Inc., to create opportunities for students that allow them to pursue careers in industrial trades, advanced manufacturing, leadership, and innovation. While the perception has been that success requires a 4-year degree, Don knew differently. His vision was to provide not only college bound students, but also nontraditional individuals the tools and skills necessary to succeed in these important fields.
As a "toolmaker to innovator" and lifelong salesman, Don was passionate about pursuing new opportunities despite others' disbelief. For example, in his fifties, when most were beginning to think about retirement, Don was beginning to dream the start of 80/20 Inc., which is now one of the largest employers in Whitley County.
Those who closely knew Don best could quote any number of his "Don-isms" or phrases for which he was frequently attributed. One of those Don-isms was to "pack your own chute". Don imagined helping others to pack their own chutes by obtaining certifications, jobs, and skillsets needed to support themselves, their families, and to ultimately find their purpose. With his visionary mindset, Don created what is now the Don Wood Foundation.
Don passed away in March 2019. While he is no longer with us, he left behind a plethora of opportunity and an unimaginable amount of hope for the manufacturing industry. His legacy will endlessly aid those individuals who have a natural inclination towards leadership, innovation, and sales, just as he had in his previous 30 years.
The legacy that Don built will live on through the employees, students, and adults that partake in the regional workforce and charitable opportunities through the Don Wood Foundation.
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