John Kinkead, Sr., the longtime head of Minneapolis-based
Turfco Manufacturing and one of the golf course and turf management industry’s
all-time great innovators, died on Tuesday, Oct. 1. He was 89 years old.
John Kinkead will be remembered by those in the industries he
loved – notably golf and turf management – as an innovator and as a person
whose perseverance set a tone for how Turfco continues to collaborate with its
customers in products and services today.
It was in that innovative spirit that John, working closely
with local golf superintendents in the Twin Cities, invented the first
mechanized top dresser, bringing top dressing into the 20th century. It was
1961, and until then, topdressing in the golf industry consisted of slinging
sand from shovels across greens and fairways. While still working at National
Mower, the company founded by his father Robert Kinkead, in 1919, John
spearheaded the introduction of this as well as other turf innovations at
Turfco. He launched a company called
Kinco as well.
John lived to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the
family’s continuous contribution and joy in working in the golf industry. He
also raised the company to international prominence as an inventive
manufacturer of commercial-grade maintenance products for golf clubs, parks,
agriculture, sports and landscaping, and held many patents.
Two of John’s sons, George and Scott Kinkead, jointly
operate Turfco, and fondly remember the early years of their father’s
“He would pack up the family station wagon with a
disassembled mower, and travel for six weeks at a time to demonstrate the
product and gain input. He had to reassemble it at every stop,” said George
Kinkead, president. Scott Kinkead, executive vice president, added, “That’s
probably where the idea of customer service became integrated into the fabric
of our company.”
John was a longtime member of the GCSAA-Golf Course
Superintendents Association; Classic Car Club of America and Rolls Royce Owners
Club, the GYRO, an investment club, and the Informal Club. He served as a board
member for the Carpenter Nature Center. He was a graduate of Saint Paul Academy
and Washington and Lee Universities.
“His legacy is with us every day,” said Scott. “He made
being a good and honorable man, a dependable friend and loving father and
respected business owner look so easy.” George remembers the summers; “He loved
being at the family cabin on the St. Croix and hosted many picnics with
neighbors, friends and family. He was a true gentleman with a sparkle in his
eye and a kindness to all those he met.”
Along with George and Scott, John’s grandson John Kinkead,
Jr. also works at with Turfco. John is survived by his wife Judy, four
children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He will be missed by so
many in the industry he knew and loved.