In Loving Memory of Myrl D. Sauder (1939-2021) - A Tribute by Dan Sauder - 09/10/2021
Archbold, Ohio - My father, Myrl, passed away Friday morning, September 10, 2021, from pancreatic cancer. This certainly was sooner than we had wanted, but in this time of loss, God reminded me to focus on his 82 great years instead of the last few months.  Dad was a blessed man.  My sisters and I were blessed to have him as our father and mentor.  We were all blessed to have him as a key leader at Sauder.  Dad asked us to focus on the positive and celebrate his life rather than mourn our loss – that is what we are doing!   

Myrl joined Sauder Woodworking Co. in 1965.  Over most of his years at Sauder, he served in the role of Vice President of Engineering.  In this role he flourished while working with his brother, Maynard.  Maynard had a way of bringing out the best in people to help them achieve more than they thought they could.  Myrl was no exception.  Dad and Maynard together proved to be an incredible combination and fueled some amazing growth during those years.  In 2004, Myrl retired from management and joined the Innovation Group at Sauder to become the “Chief Tinkerer,” as he called himself.  Throughout his 56-year career, he led key efforts to invent new products and new machines that would help Sauder become a world class furniture manufacturer.  Myrl became the company’s biggest champion for one of its core values of finding “better ways.”

I would like to highlight some of the most notable “better ways” that we can attribute to Myrl.  Myrl was the person who launched Sauder into using wrapped moldings in a big way.  He invented our first wrapping machines, which enabled Sauder to add more styling for much less cost than any other furniture producer.  He pioneered using high-fidelity Japanese paper laminates at a time when others were using fake looking plastic laminates.  The combination of wrapped moldings and realistic laminates enabled Sauder to introduce the Copenhagen furniture collection and the first microwave carts.  These were probably the biggest product hits in the history of Sauder (outside of the invention of the RTA table by Erie Sauder).  Myrl also invented a new way to construct a raised panel door that was revolutionary and is still used on our raised panel doors today.  And finally, in his role as Chief Tinkerer, Myrl helped launch Sauder into the casket business by innovating a whole line of caskets that utilize these unique Sauder manufacturing capabilities.  In all, Myrl had 16 patents that helped Sauder do things in different and better ways.  

I am reminded of a story that Myrl shared with me.  At the age of 12 he told his dad that he wanted to become an inventor when he grew up.  Erie encouraged him and said, “Well son, then do that!”  He certainly did.  He discovered his God given talent and achieved his childhood dream.  He became a great inventor.  

And what happened along the way is even more important.  Dad became known for his servant leadership and his love for people.  He had a humble spirit, and he took genuine interest in others regardless of their status.  He had a unique way of brightening one’s day and making each person feel important.  He was a natural leader, not because he sought to be a leader, but because he sought to be a servant to those around him.  He valued people over things.  He spent a lifetime building a reputation of caring and servanthood.  So not only did he achieve his childhood dream of becoming a great inventor, but he also left a trail of healthy and loving relationships in the process.  What a wonderful legacy. 
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