In 1967, IBM hired Ron Bower to sell computers, which were the size of swimming pools back then.

Boring old business theory came alive as Ron was confronted with clever reminders of good work ethic (the Roundtoit, the THINK pad, etc.), joke-laced presentations, and genuinely warm working relationships at IBM. The corporate culture there thrived on friendly competition and encouraged creative thinking. Ron’s respect for authority in the military gave him a good rapport with his superiors in the corporate structure, and the camaraderie at A&M positioned him well for rising in a playful way through the ranks of IBM. His military savvy paid off directly when he became the first person ever to sell and install an automatic teller machine (ATM) to Texas’ largest military base at Ft. Hood. He also gave demonstrations and sold large and small computer systems to clients in a range of industries including State Government, education, insurance, and dairy! Ron’s leadership confidence grew with his wide range of projects and frequent IBM promotions.

IBM encouraged having a balanced life. Ron’s wife, Peggy, was included in the many reward trips he earned for exceeding sales benchmarks (and rightly so, since her concise writing skills helped her husband hone his proposals). The couple had two children during the IBM years. Ron was around to coach little league and have time with his kids, and he turned down promotions that required transfers to keep his family on steady ground.

Ron was also able to take off frequently through his years with IBM — he flew helicopters through his National Guard work, and moonlighted as a private flight instructor on the weekends. Ron and two doctor friends shared ownership of a Piper Cherokee 6, a unique partnership which lasted 25 years. Ron trained the docs to fly, and all three families used the plane for vacations. That little plane, which remained in perfect condition and accident-free throughout the quarter century, sold for more than they paid for it!

Ron remained at IBM until 1982, when he jokes that he joined “two other idiots” in an aviation sales and service company. (See aviation sales.)

^ Ronald Reagan gave Ron an Outstanding Achievement Award at the Austin Sales & Marketing Executives Dinner. (February 15, 1979)



55 years flying
1994 around the world eastbound & solo
1996 around the world westbound
’59-’68: school, love, war
’68-’82: business
The page is next –> ’82-on: aviation sales
life lessons from flying