Industry Icon John M. Hill Passes at Age 86

Legendary material handling and supply chain industry leader John Miller Hill died peacefully on April 15, 2024, surrounded by his family. Hill was a director with MHI member St. Onge Company and begun his work in the industry in the 1960s. During his long career, Hill spoke at numerous industry events, authored countless articles and mentored generations of future industry leaders.

Hill was a former COO/CEO and officer of automatic data collection and supply chain execution systems firms with hundreds of successful technology installations. He was a pioneer in the bar-coding systems industry and had deep expertise in warehouse management system (WMS) software.

John was a strong supporter of MHI and MHI’s Industry Groups. He served on the MHI Board, including as past President, and as Emeritus to the MHI Roundtable Advisory Committee. He was also the former President and a Lifetime Director of the Material Handling Education Foundation.

He received several recognitions for his lifetime achievements, including MHEFI’s Norman L. Cahners and Reed-Apple Awards—the only industry leader to be honored with both prestigious awards.

“John Hill was nothing short of an icon in the material handling and supply chain industry, serving for decades as a visionary leader and friend as he mentored generations of industry leaders,” said John Paxton, CEO, MHI. “He will be remembered for his kindness, his generosity and his unwavering belief in this industry. His passion and dedication were unmatched, and his impact on the industry will be felt for years to come. His legacy will live on in the countless lives he touched and the industry he helped to shape.”

“John was clearly a top-level expert in his field, whether its materials handling system capabilities or automatic identification technology, but what made John different from other experts is how happy he was when mentoring others,” said Bryan Jensen, chairperson and executive VP at St. Onge and MHI Chair. “He had a strong belief in mentoring others, and that truly set him apart. I think that the joy he took in education and mentoring is central to his legacy.”

“John Hill was a friend, mentor, industry pioneer and above all, a consummate gentleman.

The first time I met John I was a young and relatively new member of MHI, and he introduced himself at a MHI reception. From that point on for the next 35 plus years he was the big brother I never had,” said George Prest, former CEO of MHI. “As a past Chairman of the MHI Board of Governors, among many other volunteer positions, John walked the talk. If there was a Mt. Rushmore of our industry, he would be on it!”

“For nearly 50 years, John was an uncommonly tireless evangelist for the concurrent movement of goods and information—factors that have come to be the heart of seamlessness and visibility in the modern supply chain,” said John Nofsinger, former CEO of MHI. “His leadership and contributions to the health of MHI and the industry are legendary and set a very high bar for all who follow.”

John is survived by his beloved wife, Barbara Doran. He was a loving father to Jen (Lori) and Sarah (Peter), grandfather to Madison (Rico), Riley, Sawyer and Miles, and great grandfather to Lily. John was predeceased by parents Jack and Grace, brother Bob, first wife Maggie McNamara and daughter Katie. The family requests that remembrances be made in the form of contributions to MHI’s Material Handling Industry’s Education Foundation, Inc. (MHEFI), to the John Hill Scholarship Fund.