Northport resident Ron Loveland, president of Summit Safety & Efficiency Solutions,...

Northport resident Ron Loveland, president of Summit Safety & Efficiency Solutions, died Sunday. He was 68. Credit: Loveland family

Business consultant Ron Loveland was known as the Mayor of Manufacturing because he promoted Long Island as a manufacturing “gem” and built a pipeline of young talent for companies struggling to fill jobs.

He shifted views away from despair over the Island’s loss of a vibrant defense industry to a vision of an economy brimming with careers at smaller manufacturers, including the businesses that had supplied giants such as Grumman Aerospace Corp.

“He was one of the first people who was a voice in the wilderness, who made people start thinking about this stuff, and it paid off,” said John Spiezio, board chairman of ADDAPT, a Garden City-based aerospace and defense trade group of which Loveland was a board member. “He got people to see … that there’s a strong manufacturing base here, and we have good school systems where we can produce well-educated kids who would be good employees.”

Loveland, an engineer and founder of Summit Safety and Efficiency Solutions, died Sunday at a hospital, the family said. The Northport resident was 68.

The West Point graduate and Army veteran began his civilian career in 1982 with Connecticut-based Sikorsky Aircraft, overseeing the production of Black Hawk helicopters, including a special one with gold fittings for the sultan of Brunei, his family said. Laid off in 1995, he soon found a Long Island engineering job that led his family to move to Setauket.

But he didn’t fall in love with manufacturing until he launched his consulting firm in 2010, said his wife, Victoria Loveland, of Northport.

Loveland, who headed the manufacturing committee for the Hauppauge Industrial Association, relished seeing small-business clients flourish after implementing his plans, those who knew him said.

When he noticed more companies bemoaning the lack of job candidates, Loveland's mission became speaking to high school students in low-income areas about jobs offering five- and six-figure salaries.

“He got school systems to be willing to bus kids to all these different manufacturing sites and trade shows,” his wife said. “He learned that the more people he knew, the more people he could help. He strived for excellence for everybody, and if you were downtrodden, he helped you find your path.”

An ardent networker, Loveland worked with educators to set up internships and with trade groups to organize job fairs and shows on manufacturing. He hunted for donors to buy equipment for Suffolk County Community College’s manufacturing training center. In his monthly YouTube announcements, he pointed out several companies’ initiatives.

“He was always doing favors for everybody, wanting nothing in return,” said Kristen Panella, Loveland’s safety subcontractor.

Loveland had been raised on the values of hard work and faith by parents who'd grown up working on farms in Connecticut. From the age of 6 or so, Ron, along with his siblings, helped in his father’s home construction business on the weekends, from sweeping dirt to carrying rocks, family members said.

Victoria and Ron met at Bristol Eastern High School in Bristol, Connecticut.

They had a West Point wedding in 1977, the year he graduated with an engineering degree. Most of his five years as an Army artillery officer were spent stateside before his assignment to Turkey in his last year, then his discharge as a major. In 1990, he got a master’s in international business from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Family members said Loveland made sure his home was happy. He took his wife out to dinner. He let his young granddaughters play-style his hair. A pocket prayerbook he carried around guided him and so did inspirational sayings from the calendars his firm gave to clients.

“He was a believer in 'put positive in, you get positive out,' ” Victoria Loveland said.

In addition to his wife, survivors include his children, Ben, of Rye, Jason, of Avon, Connecticut, Sarah Loveland Meyer, of Avon, and Justin of York, Maine; his father, Bob, of Bristol, Connecticut; and brothers, Ed, of East Hampton, Connecticut, Jack, of Bloomfield, Connecticut, and Ken, of Bristol.

A wake will be held 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Friday at Bryant Funeral Home in Setauket. The funeral service will be 1 p.m. Saturday at Setauket Presbyterian Church. He will be cremated.

Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the American Heart Association or any charity.

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