Ronald W. Gray
Engineered with a Touch of Crimson
Inducted in 2010
When can Gray be Crimson? In the case of Ronald W. Gray, Crimson is serving on The University of Alabama Board of Trustees. So proudly Crimson is Gray that he has endowed three scholarships as part of his legacy to the Capstone from which he graduated in 1981 with a degree in engineering.
Gray began his career in Birmingham with Combustion Engineering Inc. as a research and development engineer, and he was awarded a patent in 1985 for work he led in tubular discharge electrodes for pollution control equipment. Later in 1985, he moved to Huntsville and continued his work in research and development as part of President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative. Gray’s career in missile defense evolved at a rapid pace as he quickly accepted more responsibility for a variety of technical projects. At the same time, his ability to manage both technical projects and people became evident resulting in a series of promotions culminating in 1992 with his being named vice president and Huntsville operations manager for a major federal government contractor.
Forward to 1998, Gray with his wife, Cindy, also an engineer, started Gray Research Inc. The company is a shining example in the Huntsville marketplace for its values, corporate culture and unmatched quality of technical services and products. The firm has twice been recognized with the top honor that NASA Marshall Space Flight Center bestows to small businesses and has also been a consistent member of Inc. magazine’s Top 500/5000 fastest growing companies lists. In 2008, MacAulay Brown of Dayton, Ohio, bought Gray Research with the understanding that Ronald Gray would remain in charge—an obvious acknowledgment that the firm’s leadership was essential to the firm’s value. The company’s record of success continues today with more than 175 employees and nearly $60 million in revenue.
During this time Gray recognized that the nation’s security, space, environmental and technological needs could be better met if a way could be found to capitalize on investments already made in research and development. Together with a group of Huntsville businessmen and university officials, Gray helped create the Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation. A not-for-profit, VCSI’s goal was to combine the capabilities of its member organizations and strategic partners to address technical challenges beyond the means of any one entity alone.
These collaborations have served as platforms for VCSI’s second objective: education. By forging relationships with all seven of Alabama’s research universities, VSCI can integrate the efforts of researchers, students and staff on its projects. This objective supports one of Gray’s personal goals: to recruit and retain Alabama’s next generation of engineers. According to Martin P. Kress, VCSI’s executive director, “Ron has sent a strong message to the young engineers of today [who are] thinking of becoming the entrepreneurs of tomorrow … that technology and business innovation are the keys to the future and … giving back to the community is a legacy we should all strive to achieve.”
And speaking of legacies: Gray’s entire family is Crimson through and through: wife, Cindy, daughter, Jennifer, and son-in-law, Jason, are University of Alabama alumni—with son, Charlie, soon to join their ranks.