It is with great sadness that RK announces the passing away of Ron Kinning, RK’s founder, on Friday, December 22, 2017. Ron was 78 years old.
Ron began his career in the skilled trades in Rosalie, Nebraska while working in his dad’s hardware store that also did contract plumbing and other construction work. After graduating from Rosalie High School, he entered military service, enlisting in the marines in 1959.
In 1963, Ron founded his own plumbing shop, Kinning Plumbing & Heating, in Pender, Nebraska. In 1965, Ron brought on a business partner and changed the company’s name to Kinning & Reil, Inc., and in 1969, they moved the company to Norfolk, Nebraska. By 1982, Kinning & Reil, Inc. was an established plumbing and mechanical contracting company working in multiple states throughout the Midwest, Texas and Mountain West region. It was at this time that Ron and his partner went their separate ways, and the Company’s name changed to Ron Kinning, Inc.
In October of 1985, RK Mechanical, Inc. was founded in Denver by Ron and his son, Rick Kinning, after they consolidated their Nebraska, Colorado, Texas and Wyoming branches. That was the start of the RK we now know!
In 1995, RK moved into its current headquarters location in Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood. In 1999, RK bought its current 15.5-acre property from the City and County of Denver. Ron was an essential factor in committing to make the property commercially viable as he navigated a complex sale from the city.
Ron held many city and state plumbing and mechanical licenses. He was proud of his Master Plumber number, which is 1026. That means he held one of the State’s earliest licenses. For perspective, Rick Kinning’s license is 189,119 and there are 188,093 people who were licensed in Colorado between Ron and Rick’s licenses.
Ron had a positive impact on the construction industry and his local community. He served on the Colorado State Examining Board of Plumbers, as well as over 20 industry and community associations during his career. He also started the in-house RK Apprenticeship Program in 1995. This program now has nearly 400 apprentices.
Today, under the leadership of his sons, Rick Kinning, CEO, and Jon Kinning, COO, Ron’s legacy lives on and will have a lasting impact at RK. It was important to Ron that his sons understand the importance of a competitive spirit, quality, relationships, generosity, hard work and loyalty. Rick and Jon strive to live and work by these values every day. The industry will always remember Ron as a leading advocate for the rights of the merit shop worker and merit shop businesses. He was an industry leader in championing these efforts.
He is survived by his wife, Georgia Kinning, his daughters, Teresa Pflueger (husband Tony) and Julie, his sons, Jon (wife Aimee) and Rick (wife Marcee), and all of his grandkids and great-grandkids.