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Ralph H. Hegman III Receives AMT Albert W. Moore Leadership Award, Recognized for Lifelong Leadership Commitment

Through his immense contributions to the manufacturing industry — and the people leading it — Ralph H. Hegman becomes the 11th winner of this prestigious award.
May 14, 2024

AMT honored Ralph “Hap” Hegman with its Albert W. Moore AMT Leadership Award on April 24-26 at The MFG Meeting 2024 in Orlando, Florida.

“Giants of the industry have received this award. I don't know if I measure up, but I am so thrilled, I am so blessed,” Hegman said during an interview. Despite his humility, Hegman is a natural choice for the award, thanks to his lifelong dedication and constant leadership within manufacturing technology.

“Ralph’s legacy is not just in the companies he’s led; it’s in the lives he’s touched and the leaders he’s inspired,” says AMT President Doug Woods. “He embodies the spirit of the Al Moore Award, and his lifetime of dedication to manufacturing set a new standard for us all. In honoring Ralph, we celebrate not just one man’s achievements, but the enduring impact of leadership, innovation, and perseverance in our industry.”

When asked where he got the nickname “Hap” from, Hegman says his mother. “I think that occasionally in life, you have a moniker that sets you up and how you look at the world. So, I look at the world very optimistically.”

The Journey: From Sales to Leadership

Hegman founded Hegman Machine Tools Inc. and served as its leader until its acquisition by Morris Group in 2013. He was previously a board member of the Minnesota Precision Machining Association (MPMA), chairman of the American Machine Tool Distributors’ Association (AMTDA, which merged with AMT in 2012), and served as first chairman of the AMT Distribution Group where he is now a committee member — amongst many other leadership positions.

“I’m from a long line of entrepreneurs,” Hegman told AMT. Ralph H. Hegman Jr., his father, who was president of Hegman Co. and Hegman Inc. His grandfather, Ralph H. Hegman Sr., was a business leader and important mentor. “When I came out of the Marine Corps., I said to my dad, ‘I'm ready to go to work for you.’ …He said, ‘I put up with your grandfather for 15 years, I’m not going to put up with you for the next 10.’”

Hegman cut his teeth in manufacturing sales when he joined Satterlee in 1975, the largest Minnesota tool and supply company of the time. He explained how his ambitions grew beyond sales, “I knew that my deadline was 35 years old. At 35, I was going to start my own company.”

Hegman Machine Tools Inc. was born in 1982, when Hegman was 35. It was thanks to a $10,000 loan from his grandfather, which he promptly paid back — with interest –— in only three months with the proceeds of his first sales. “[My grandfather] was really proud, as was my family.”

Leadership in Action

Hegman recalled his first AMTDA meeting, “I remember clearly asking questions from the audience, going to breakout sessions, and collecting loads of information.” He commented that, while attending, he networked and connected with most of the leaders of the day.

“They provided insight that we needed parts, we needed service, and we had to figure out ways to actually build for applications…by adding the right support mechanisms, we would become indispensable.”

Through his involvement at AMTDA, Hegman became its chairman in 2002. In 2012 he started and chaired the distribution group at AMT. He now acts as a board member and advisor to Kurt Machining, and facilitator of the Kurt Machining leadership group. Showing his dedication to leading from the front, Hegman also moderated a talk on Leadership Transition at the same MFG Meeting where he received the Al Moore Leadership Award.

Still Empowering Tomorrow’s Leaders

Hegman now leads three AMT leadership groups to foster ingenuity by providing his wealth of knowledge as a company founder. “We have great people coming up behind us, and in my own way I hope that I made an impression or helped them.”

“Ralph Hegman is my mentor, friend, and a man I deeply admire,” shares Brian Mecca, director of sales at Royal Products, and a member of one of the AMT leadership groups. “Ralph’s passion for and dedication to the machine tool industry is unparalleled.”

Hegman concluded with gratitude for the people who made his career possible, “I've always been successful because people have helped me along the way…Barb, my wife…My kids, gosh I just can't tell you how helpful they've been over time” …the people that I worked with — again I won’t say employees — were amazing…and I have to thank AMT for giving me this opportunity to facilitate these leadership groups.”

Kathy Keyes Webster
Managing Editor – Content
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