King of the K.I.S.S. Theory
By Leslie King, Metrologist - July 2013
To set the record straight, Bob King grew up in Lewistown, Montana, the middle son of a cattle rancher. He earned a BS in Chemical Engineering from Montana State University in Bozeman, and immediately enlisted in the Air Force. He attended Officer Candidate School and became a 2nd Lieutenant, working as a project engineer in the liquid propellant division at the U.S. Naval Ordnance Test Station in Pasadena, California. He was transferred to Wright Patterson in Dayton, Ohio, where he worked in rocket technology, and on a blind date met his stylish future wife, my mother Adele, a graphic artist in Dayton. They married upon his release from the Air Force, and moved to Los Angeles.
Bob worked as a salesman for Sundstrand Corporation, then became a manufacturers’ rep, during which time he saw a government solicitation for calibration equipment for submarines. That night he raced home and told Adele, “I can make this equipment.” It was 1958, an optimistic time, and being optimists themselves, they decided Dad should go after the contract on his own. Working out of their garage, Bob made a prototype Model 3112 Portable Gauge Tester to offer the Navy. They decided on the name King Nutronics—part space age, the “nu” signifying a new kind of calibration equipment. Adele designed the logo. Although Bob 3112 earned him the contract. For the first time, Navy ships did not have to come to port to get their instruments calibrated, but could bring their calibration equipment on board. We still sell the 3112 Portable Gauge Tester to this day.
Following his success with the Model 3112, in 1960 Bob moved the company out of the garage and into a facility in Van Nuys, California. By 1969 King Nutronics had outgrown the Van Nuys facility, and Bob moved the company to its current facility in Woodland Hills. Bob King, from 1960 to 2012, used his engineering ingenuity and industry expertise to produce new product lines tailored to the needs of the military. In addition to being very high quality, durable and accurate, every product had to adhere to the K.I.S.S. theory—Keep It Simple Stupid. He believed that if he could make equipment that required little training to operate, had few moving parts, didn’t require special tools, was safe and did its job extremely well, he had succeeded in the K.I.S.S. theory.
Following on the heels of the Model 3112 were numerous pressure calibrators, hydraulic calibration pumps, a line of oxygen- clean test equipment, a pop-valve test bench, torque and force calibrators, avionics air data calibrators, and a variety of support accessories. As a testament to their durability and longevity in the field, we still sell these products and routinely get equipment in for calibration that is over 30 years old. Not too long ago, we even had one of the first Model 3112’s from 1960 come in for repair.
Bob King passed away November 29, 2012. He never retired from King Nutronics, and still made time to live a very adventurous life. He skied and scuba dove, would fly his plane to distant lands and sleep under the wing. He sailed around the world, making the crossing to the Azores in his gaffe-rigged schooner not once but twice. At home, he was a devoted husband and the most fun dad ever. At King Nutronics, he was an inclusive, generous leader, and the proof is in the many employees who’ve been with us over 30 years. If you ever visited King Nutronics, you probably met Bob King. He was usually there, working with his engineers or checking up on the military calibration technicians training to use our equipment. He loved interacting with our customers and especially working with the military service men and women. He was proud of his products, his company and his employees, and felt privileged that he had been able to make a difference in such an important field.
His legacy continues at King Nutronics under the guidance of President Robert Welther and me, CEO Leslie King. We apply Bob King’s same high standards of innovation, a collaborative corporate culture, excellence in manufacturing, and of course the K.I.S.S. theory to all our products, legacy and new. As the next generation of King Nutronics Corporation, we are proud to bring to our customers the innovative engineering, accuracy, durability and simplicity of use for which King Nutronics equipment is known worldwide.