Thousands of people can breathe easier thanks to Tom Jones. The 1967 University of Kansas School of Engineering graduate was a driving force in a home health care revolution that shortened hospital stays and eased the financial burden for patients and their families.
Jones, who earned his degree in mechanical engineering, spent more than 20 years at Puritan-Bennett Corporation – a company that dealt with medical gases and eventually became a worldwide leader in the home oxygen market – working his way up the ranks to Vice President and General Manager.
A combination of strong engineering knowledge, sharp business acumen and outstanding people skills propelled Jones into leadership roles, where he was known as a person with great compassion and integrity who accepted responsibility and built teams that exceeded expectations.
After graduating from KU, he worked for Phillips Petroleum – eventually joining a Kansas City, Mo., based subsidiary, Sealright that fabricated plastic and plastic-coated paper products for the dairy industry. While there, he earned his Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1970.
Jones moved to Puritan-Bennett in 1973, when the company was focused on medical device and mechanical gas manufacturing and distribution. He was soon promoted to national account manager where he supervised growth of the distribution network. Jones used his engineering talents to drive development and production of innovative medical products. He also developed and implemented marketing strategies to successfully sell these products, and led a broad range of talented individuals to create a successful and profitable organization.
The products developed under Jones’s guidance were innovative for the home care industry. They moved medical care from the high-cost environment of the hospital to the lower costs of the home, and made it easier for patients to return home in a shorter period of time. His career was marked by several noteworthy contributions, including improving and lengthening the lives of hundreds of thousands of chronically ill people and helping create thousands of good jobs.
Jones retired in 1996, a year after Puritan-Bennett was acquired by Nellcor Corporation, and spent more than a year as consultant in the home health care arena. In 1998, he had the opportunity to join one of the companies he advised, CHAD Therapeutics, as its CEO.
Once an industry leader, the company – which designed and developed devices to make home oxygen patients more mobile and improve their quality of life – had fallen behind competitors at the time Jones took the job. His engineering expertise and management experience made him the ideal person to a lead a new approach for CHAD Therapeutics, and within a few years, the company had re-established a leadership position in the market. Jones provided the leadership necessary to reinvent CHAD’s product line with limited resources at a critical time in the firm’s operations. Those who worked with him at CHAD said he possessed an inclusive management style that allowed employees to express their opinions to the benefit of the company. He retired from CHAD in 2008.
Jones has also maintained strong ties to KU, having served on the School of Engineering Advisory Board since 1991. He’s also provided valuable resources to the School of Engineering as a member of the Engineering Deans Club of KU Endowment.
He and his wife, Kay, live in Prairie Village, Kan.