Thank You, Bill Hardgrave

The head of the University of Arkansas' RFID Research Center brought a level of credibility to the RFID industry.
Published: July 9, 2010

The news that Dr. Bill Hardgrave is leaving the University of Arkansas, where he founded and headed the RFID Research Center, is somewhat bittersweet (see Bill Hardgrave to Leave RFID Research Center).

I am happy for Bill that he has been named the dean of Auburn University’s College of Business, in Alabama. The position is well deserved. And I’m happy that Bill will continue his involvement with RFID research. But I’m somewhat saddened by the knowledge that his duties at Auburn will likely mean he won’t be around the RFID community as much.

I first met Bill when his lab opened on a sweltering June day in 2005. I traveled to Fayetteville, Ark., to see the 10,000-square-foot lab at work at a manufacturing and warehouse facility owned by Hanna’s Candles. Bill quickly emerged as an important leader in the RFID community, when the lab produced research showing that RFID reduced out-of-stocks by an average of 16 percent in a trial run within Wal-Mart‘s stores (see EPC Reduces Out-of-Stocks at Wal-Mart).

What has always impressed me about Bill Hardgrave is his focus on the business benefits of radio frequency identification. The lab was not focused on developing RFID systems, or on coming up with novel, pie-in-the-sky applications. It was all about measuring the benefits that businesses could derive from the technology. The lab’s work under Bill’s guidance brought a level of credibility to the industry, because previously, there were no objective studies to back up the claims of improved efficiencies.

Bill has spoken at most of the events RFID Journal has hosted since 2005, so I got to know him. He is a man of not just intelligence and vision, but of integrity. He is also very humble, and has a great sense of humor. As his stature grew within the RFID industry, he never changed.

Still, I’m confident the RFID Research Lab will continue to do great work. Justin Patton and David Cromhout have been working with Bill from the beginning, and they embrace his belief that it is all about the business benefits, not the technology.

I want to publicly wish Bill all the best in his new position, and I personally owe him a debt of gratitude for all of the time he has given to speaking at our events. I think I speak for the entire industry when I say we are all indebted to him for the contributions he has made to the RFID industry.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark’s opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog or the Editor’s Note archive.