Harold Mathers Retires

Wednesday, November 21, 2001
After 50 years at the helm, founding President Harold Mathers has retired from ZF Mathers. Mathers signed papers a year ago transferring ownerships of the company to ZF Marine, the world’s largest supplier of marine propulsion systems. Russ Polansky, formerly branch manager of ZFI Marine in Seattle, was appointed to head up the AF Mathers facility. As part of the agreement with ZF Marine, Mathers stayed actively involved in day-to-day operations until a smooth transition had been made. Mathers credits the company’s long history and sustained profitability to a team that includes a core group of loyal employees. He reported that he did not seriously consider a buyout proposal until ZF Marine approached him two years ago. “I expected to retire some day, but I wasn’t in any great hurry. I felt it was very important to go with a company which shared my commitment to our customers and employees.” The company was founded as Mathers Controls in 1951 when Mathers and his father Cliffe, began building controls for salmon gillnet boats in Bristol Bay. Two years later the new company introduced a two-in-one system offering single-lever throttle and gear control. Mathers controls followed the single-lever, two-in-one design with several engineering improvements in pneumatic controls. In 1969, the company introduced a revolutionary speed/shift sequence protection to safely allow rapid shifting from full ahead to full astern. In the early 1980s, the company pioneered the development of disc-type propeller shaft brakes for marine applications and began researching ways to harness emerging electronic technologies. With the introduction of MicroCommander in 1987, Mathers Controls moved aggressively into the pleasure boat market. Over 40,000 MicroCommander systems have been installed on single-and twin-engine vessels.
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