Little Giant Ladder Founder Hal Wing Passes Away at 7222 Aug, 2012 By: Doug McPherson
SPRINGVILLE, Utah – The direct response industry is mourning the death of one its greatest pioneers: Hal Wing, the founder of Wing Enterprises and the creator of the Little Giant Ladder system. Wing, who became well known for his philanthropy as well as his business acumen, died August 6 from heart complications at age 72.
Wing’s patented Little Giant Ladder, which was a multi-million dollar hit on television during the past decade, was inspired upon a trip to Germany in the 1970s, where he saw a ladder prototype. Upon returning to the U.S., he patented his version of the idea and began operating Wing Enterprises out of his home, selling them at fairs and trade shows. Initially, the company was just Wing and his family, assembling and shipping the product from his garage. He then tapped infomercials as a marketing tool that caused demand soared so much he was forced to buy an old dilapidated, abandoned office building to become his new manufacturing plant.
Wing Enterprises has since grown to become the largest manufacturer of American-made ladders with many product lines and with several worldwide patents and trademarks on many innovations in ladder design and manufacturing. What’s more, the company’s research and development department continues to create new products that continually revolutionize the ladder industry.
Peter Koeppel, owner of Koeppel Direct, a multi-channel DR company in Dallas, calls Wing “an amazing entrepreneur and a great pitchman, who could demonstrate his product better than anyone.” He adds, “He was truly one of a kind and I think everyone who had the opportunity to work with him was touched by his passion for life, his product and business and was inspired by his tenacity and success.”
Wing also served in both Ronald Reagan’s and George H.W. Bush’s presidential administrations as a representative at several national conferences on small business. He served as mayor of Springville, Utah, and was twice named the National Republican Party Committee’s Businessman of the Year (2003, 2006). He received the 2006 National Entrepreneur of the Year award from Ernst & Young and the Business of the Year award from the Utah County Commission for his company’s contributions to the Utah economy. And, in October 2010, Wing became only the fourth person inducted into the Utah Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame.
In 2011, work was completed on Utah Valley University’s new Hal Wing Track and Field complex. He made a sizable donation to fund and build the complex. Wing was also known for hiring people other businesses ignored because of criminal records or physical disabilities.
Instead of flowers, the family is asking that people donate to Utah Fast Pass, a charitable organization that provides funds to several groups including the Utah Highway Patrol’s (UHP) Honoring Heroes Foundation.