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News & Press: Association News

APRA Sad to Announce Passing of "The Answer Man" Dick Vensel

Friday, July 8, 2016  
Posted by: Kat Turner
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Crystal Lake, Illinois- It saddens Barbara, Sandy, and me to share the news that an Industry Legend has left us this year. Anyone who has been in this industry for any significant time has probably had the unique opportunity to meet and know Richard (Dick) Vensel. 

Dick had a true passion for creating, developing, and producing the tools, supplies and test equipment that met the ever changing requirements of the rebuilding industry. He had a huge appetite for knowledge and gathered as much information as possible on new items created by the OE manufacturers. When Dick worked a trade show in his “white lab coat”, he had the look of an industry professor, teaching people how to turn problems into “Unsolved Opportunities”.

For many in our field, Dick was the go-to guy with the answers. He treated everyone in the industry in the same way, whether they were young or old, male or female, large company or small.

Many people refer to their spouse as their better half. Dick knew that Barbara was truly his better half and more. He knew that she was his in-house organizer, his party planner and his best friend…and that she turned him from a grumpy guy into a happy man.

Several decades ago, Dick said that the best part of this industry was all of the lifelong friendships you make, and he called many of you his friends. We will all miss Dick and his stories.

I hope that Dick has taught enough of us all of the aspects of the remanufacturing industry so that collectively we can continue to contribute to the success of the industry in his absence. He will be missed.

-Tom Dunn, Secretary of APRA 



Tribute Quotes:

"The passing of Dick Vensel comes as a big shock to all of us in the rebuilding industry who knew him for years if not decades. Dick was a very kind-hearted, sincere, and knowledgeable person, who never shied away from helping anyone whether he/she was a customer or not.

Under his serious demeanor and strong army-drill- sergeant voice, was a kind-hearted gentle soul who was always helpful, whether you were a friend or not. All you had to do was ask him a question, and he would find an answer to help you out.

Knowing Dick for almost four decades and traveling with him extensively for teaching rebuilding seminars across the USA and Canada, is a privilege that I was so lucky to have. I feel I have lost a very dear friend, a mentor, and an esteemed colleague who is truly irreplaceable."

Mohammad Samii, Sammy's Auto Electric

"I met Richard Vensel in Kansas City in May 1990 at the first E+ Trade Show. Although it was not much more than an introduction, I was immediately struck by his sincere and disarming presence.

During our 20-year association in the electrical rebuilding Industry, his support of the Electrical Rebuilder's Exchange newspaper, trade show, and later the Electrical Rebuilder's Association was immeasurable. Likewise, he offered an inordinate amount of time and expertise to the Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association and to rebuilders coast to coast. But for all he has done in service for the industry, and probably for thousands of individuals in his lifetime, I would just like to say that Dick Vensel was a very good man. Like many others who knew him, I hold Dick in the highest esteem. He was a friend and a mentor. I feel it is safe to say that anyone who knew him or worked with him was most likely the better for it."

Polly Rupp (Shea) - former owner Electrical Rebuilder's Exchange Newspaper

"Dick Vensel was both a mentor and a friend. From the time I first sat through his seminars at APRA clinics in the 1980s, it was obvious that he knew precisely what he was talking about. He was blunt and honest, but kind and respectful at the same time. He loved to help others and found a way to make a living at it-- supplying tools, equipment and supplies to the electrical rebuilding industry. He helped me many times, offering advice and correcting me when I had described something incorrectly. I am forever grateful for that. I know he did the same for countless others-- many he never knew. He was a teacher to the end, finishing his own article on roller-clutch drive rebuilding just a month ago."

Bob Thomas, B&H Electric

"What a prize he was. We used to tease him about how gruff and grumpy he was but underneath was a heart of gold. He loved his profession and the people in it. I'm thankful for having had him for inspiration and proud to have been his friend."

Dennis Jacinto, YouTech Group LLC

"I first met Dick at an APRA show more than 30 years ago. I was a newbie to the industry and was told that 'he knows everything'. It took me some time to work up the courage to approach him in his booth. I'm sure glad that I did. Over the years he helped me countless times to find solutions to rebuilding problems. We became great friends. He will be sorely missed."

Henry (Handlebar Hank) Henke, United Starter and Alternator, Chairman APRA Electrical Division 1988-89

"We have lost a Great friend and leader who has been a BLESSING to me. He would help anyone anytime!"

Ronnie Charnes - ACC Rebuilders, Inc.


"My friend and Auto Rebuilder Icon...Dick was a leader in the automotive remanufacturing industry for many years...He was not only a supplier to almost everyone in the industry, but also a friend. Dick really didn't sell products, he sold solutions to people's problems...He was a wealth of information, and had the patience to explain things to people, even when he knew he was not going to make a sale. I have to thank Dick (which I did in person) for all of the advice he gave me when I got into the industry...He was a good friend and advisor who cannot be replaced. He was tough, but at the same time a very kind person who cared about people, and he tried to make their businesses more successful. He was a Veteran who proudly served his country.

I think one of the nicest things one can say about Richard R. Vensel is that he was an honest and caring businessman, who was universally admired and respected by his peers, customers, and competitors ...."

Aaron Tobin, Reman Forums

"Dick was a friend, Mentor and Father to me. When my parents passed (I was 48) Dick and Barbara 'adopted' me, and always said that I was their eighth child. I have lost count of the number of times I've been to their house. It was a place where I never lost any sleep, because it was just like home.

The first time I met Dick was at the APRA show in Atlanta GA.-- somewhere around 1981. He took Fred Colson and me around, showing us where every hospitality suite was in the hotel.

For years after, that he kept inviting me to join him in his booth at every ERA and APRA show. How many people do you know who, the first time you meet them, would take you out to dinner and treat you like family?

That was Dick!"

Alan Melton - AmFor Electronics


"Dick, You were a great man, a leader, a trainer and a businessman. You have helped many of us in the automotive rebuilding industry, and we will miss you."

Jim Thomas, Retired, Smith Auto Electric, Yakima, WA.


"Dick was a great supporter of the rebuilding industry and helped rebuilders grow and prosper, as well as solve some very difficult electrical problems. He will be missed."

Bill Gager, former APRA President

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