Ronald “Ron” Lee Harper, founder of Harper Corporation of America, died on April 14, 2012, at the age of 79. Harper, along with his wife Katherine, was a pioneer in the flexographic printing industry. In 1971, they founded their own company manufacturing printing press rollers and made it a highly successful business with factories in Charlotte, NC, Wisconsin, Germany and Thailand.
Under Ron Harper’s guidance, Harper Corporation became a global leader in the printing roller industry and revolutionized printing quality with advanced technology. Ron Harper’s business philosophies and achievements are told in one of his books “The Harder I Work, The Luckier I Get.” There are flexo departments named for the Harpers at many colleges in the Carolinas as well as in Chicago, California and Wisconsin. CPCC has the Harper Campus “The Harper National Flexographic Center,” and manages a Ron and Katherine Harper Scholarship Fund. Appalachian State University dedicated the Katherine Harper Hall in 2007.
The Harpers are well-known for their charitable contributions. In 2009, the Harpers donated funds to the Clemson University graphics department, The couple co-chaired a drive in 1999 to raise $1 million for flexo education in high schools and donated the first $100,000. They helped establish flexographic printing programs in 21 high schools and 32 colleges in the US, Canada, Argentina and Costa Rica with similar technical training programs. Ron Harper was passionately involved with the Flexographic Technical Association, its Foundation, and its highly successful Technical Education Services Team (TEST). He was elected to the FTA Hall of Fame in 1999. The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce named the Harpers “Manufacturing Champions” in 2007.
Harper is survived by his wife Katherine Harper, sons Danny (Lynn), Jim (Heather), Christopher; daughters Margie (Hal) Kluttz, Georgia (Derek) Patterson; 14 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.