The Legacy of Neal Strohmeyer
The untimely death of Chairman of the Board Neal W. Strohmeyer on July 5, 2020 left his family and fellow Triangle associates at a loss for words. A collective sadness was felt by all, but a resounding sense of gratitude for knowing him is what prevails. Neal inspired many people in powerful ways with his knowledge, kindness, compassion and friendship. He would often walk the shop floor at Triangle and stop to visit with associates as they worked, connecting with them as a fellow associate. He was one of them and they would chat not only about their work, but also family milestones, and share pictures of their kids. Neal was a family man, and he delighted in their news just as much as they did. Neal’s physical presence may no longer be felt at Triangle, but his nurturing leadership style, his belief in the core values, and his visionary plans for the growth of the company, remain alive and intact, ingrained in the DNA of Triangle. Neal’s father and company founder, Willie, would be proud of Neal and of what Triangle has become.
Neal grew up in the 50s in a baby-boomer New Jersey neighborhood filled with other working-class families who were building the American dream. This was a childhood experienced on common ground with other post-war families who knew what opportunity and hard work could provide. Willie Strohmeyer knew that he wanted to be a business owner early on in his career as a talented machinist. With those aspirations, he struck out on his own in the late 50s and started his own machine shop with two other machinists, eventually buying them out. Willie had a vision that he and his wife Jean gave life to at their kitchen table. Willie worked tirelessly, day and night, and grew his business, eventually moving Triangle from Rochelle Park, NJ to Upper Saddle River, NJ. The building at 116 Pleasant Avenue is where Neal spent many summers honing his skills on the shop floor as a teenager starting in 1967. Neal actually assisted in laying the brick foundation of that original building as part of his summer job duties.
Neal decided to leave college and go to work full time at Triangle in 1971. He had a lot to learn but was excited by the opportunities he would have along the way, working side by side with his dad and brother Lee. Neal’s mother Jean, the company bookkeeper, took great care of the company finances. In 1984 his sister Diane joined the company, developing her expertise in raw materials and strategic sourcing, which she still does to this day. Triangle was a very well-oiled machine. And a family one at that.
When Neal took over from Willie in 1987, Triangle was a very successful commercial contract manufacturer, predominantly serving the aerospace industry. He continued to build upon this foundation while envisioning a future that targeted the more complex and challenging world of medical device manufacturing. He was gutsy and ambitious and knew the shift into the medical arena could yield great rewards. He called an acquaintance who worked for an OEM and asked him how he could get work from the company. He told Neal, plain and simple, “Learn how to cut titanium and cobalt chrome.” It was the early 90s and the Triangle team took this recommendation to heart, practicing and learning how to cut these new materials, and much more.
Through the 90s Triangle grew, in associate head count and in core competencies, taking on exciting, more complex projects and competing at the highest levels. In 2001, Neal’s son Dax joined the company, working first in operations and then concentrating on new business development. Together, father and son ushered in an unprecedented period of growth, investment and planning for the future. Dax’s dream of molding Triangle into a medical device manufacturing company was becoming a reality. With this expansion came new responsibilities and accountability. Neal mandated that all associates become the most highly trained they could be. Triangle created their own training protocols for developing and maintaining excellence across all platforms, standards and equipment. This unparalleled investment in associate training is a hallmark of Triangle’s commitment to excellence and led to the creation and dedication of the Neal W. Strohmeyer Training Center on their campus in Upper Saddle River in April of 2019.
As CEO, Dax is committed to the vision that he and Neal created, leading Triangle in new directions, expanding competencies and working with new clients. Like his father and grandfather before him, Dax has a strong foundation upon which to build and often finds himself channeling the lessons learned that Neal and Willie brought to bear on their family business. Neal’s passion for his company and his associates was clearly visible in each encounter that he had and in every decision he made. The values that he held sacred are at the core of the culture at Triangle. He inspired so many people with his careful way of listening and his easy willingness to share his knowledge. His presence will be greatly missed, but his spirit and legacy will live on at Triangle, and in all who had the privilege to know him.