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Remembering John Sheridan

Aug. 21, 2018
Former IndustryWeek senior editor and founder of the IndustryWeek Best Plants Awards

IndustryWeek lost an important team member this past week. Former senior editor and IW Best Plants Awards founder John H. Sheridan passed away in mid-August at the age of 78.

Sheridan was a key contributor to IndustryWeek for more than 25 years prior to his retirement, reporting on the manufacturing stories that needed to be told and our audiences needed to hear. His manufacturing knowledge and expertise were expansive. A former IndustryWeek editor recalled how no IndustryWeek project was too big or too ambitious for the IW staff to take on because it had Sheridan’s vast store of manufacturing knowledge to call upon to make it work.

Among Sheridan’s legacies at IndustryWeek is the IW Best Plants Awards program, our annual salute to manufacturing excellence. Sheridan founded the awards, then known as America’s Best Plants, in 1990, leading a team effort to develop criteria to evaluate diverse manufacturing operations and select the best manufacturing plants.  

IndustryWeek has named 262 IW Best Plants winners since 1990, and the program continues to illustrate—in Sheridan’s words—"what is possible when astute manufacturing managers and motivated employee teams set their minds to working smarter and getting better.”

On a personal note, it has been a privilege over the past decade to lead the program that Sheridan was such a driving force behind.

Sheridan was direct, he was opinionated and I could not have had a better teacher from whom to learn about manufacturing and continuous improvement. He handed me The Goal, by Eliyahu M. Goldratt when I came aboard IndustryWeek and told me it was “must read” material. He explained just-in-time inventory management to me, as well kaizen. He schooled me some when I was busy describing “lean” as simply common sense. And he put up with my endless questions.

Sheridan is survived by his wife of 48 years, Elaine, and a sister, Kathy Ramsay.

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