We have received the sad news that Genie founder Bud Bushnell has died, having passed away on Saturday the 14th of November at the age of 99.
Bushnell was born and raised in Seattle, Washington and during World War II served in the United States Navy as a radar technician aboard the USS Siboney in the Pacific. His lifelong partner Mary Jean Moore sadly passed away in 2013, shortly after their 70th wedding anniversary.
A 'tinkerer and craftsman' throughout his life, his projects included building boats, tree houses, and other wood objects. He was also an inventor and was always looking for a better way to do things. An enthusiastic entrepreneur he set up a company in 1965 in a small warehouse on Western Avenue in downtown Seattle. He began experimenting with pneumatic powered doors and began to work with a specialist company that also made pneumatic tools. A year later he bought the manufacturing rights to a material lift that operated on compressed air. Customers referred to the ‘magic in the compressed air bottle’ that raised the hoist and, thus the Genie name was born.
In 1968 he added a personnel platform to a triple air cylinder lift to create his first work platform. An adhoc visit from a Japanese iron works company resulted in an order for 1,500 units, kicking off the fledgling business. In the 1970s he brought his son in law Bob Wilkerson into the company, appointing him as president in 1978. Bud’s son Ward Bushnell also joined to manage manufacturing, while Roger Brown led the company’s sales efforts. With this strong team on board Bud was able to step back from the business and let the young team build the business into a world leader, with the company moving to its current site in Redmond in 1982.
In the words of his family: “More than what he achieved was who he was as a man. Bud was someone who led our family with grace, compassion, and love and extended that to everyone he met. His humility and generosity enabled him to treat all people with respect and honour. He was a thoughtful listener, able to remember details and reflect on what was shared using follow-up questions in response. A thinker who pondered, Bud always wondered and encouraged others about what could be. He was consistently optimistic, a continual learner who embraced technological changes moving from a Samsung to an iPhone at 95 years old so he could better communicate with his children and grandchildren on FaceTime.”
“Bud was truly a legend...living an epic life that most could only dream about. He seized the life he aspired for, while showing us the right way to live - investing in his family, following his and their dreams, bettering the world, and doing it all with love.”
Bushnell is survived by his six children, Robbin, Ward, Peggy, Jann, Terry and Bill, along with his sister Jerry, 18 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren. A celebration of his life is planned for next summer. Donations in Bud's name may be made to the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research.
See a more comprehensive history of Genie published in Cranes & Access in October 2016.