What you might not know? John donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to various charities and helped countless folks who were short on paying their bills—all anonymously (he’d likely be embarrassed with just the mention of it here). Staff members at restaurants tell us that he was their best tipper, bar none—and that he genuinely and effortlessly shrugged off every “Thank You Soooooo Much” he was given. His mailman cried when he heard of his passing. His trash hauler came to his burial ceremony. John led his business the way he led his life—with the kind of generosity, attention to detail, and thoughtfulness many of us can only aspire to.
John Rothkopf was the founder and the heart of the Rothkopf business, and left a legacy to his daughter Sue, son Mike, and grandson Stephen, that will live on for generations to come—carrying that legacy on is both a constant challenge to meet and an honor for this family.
John created a company with a rock solid reputation, founded on a commitment to his customers that was unmatched; when he said it would happen, it would, no matter what he had to do to make it happen. His word was golden. The work ahead of us now is not to keep our promises—that’s a given for our family—but rather to carry on the standard of friendship and connection he had with every single one of our customers and their teams. To do so, we look to John’s history.
Formative Years of John Rothkopf
John was born the only child of Margaret (Cronin) and Roy Rothkopf on September 30th, 1931, in Kirkwood, Missouri, a train station town outside of St. Louis. Although he had lots of Cronin Cousins in his neighborhood, perhaps growing up without siblings is what gave him the ability to make friends wherever he went—a skill that served him through the rest of his life. John was the kind of guy you immediately felt comfortable around, who could put a smile on your face within the first 20 seconds of meeting you, and who would remember what you said, even in passing.
John Rothkopf, mother Maggie, and father Roy at “10 Mile House,” Roy’s bar, in January, 1943. The bar is now called “Charcoal House.”
Formative Years Of The Rothkopf Company
While John was in his formative years, so, too, was the company that would eventually become Rothkopf. Founded in February of 1938 by Fred R. Patterson as Prim Corporation, the company manufactured and distributed “Prime” cleaning fluid. Upon Fred’s death, the company was inherited by his daughter, Geraldine, and her husband, Russell F. Carlson, Jr., who was a purchasing agent at then McDonnell Aircraft. With that experience, Russ saw the opportunity to add O-Rings to the company’s product list to serve the many large OEMs with sizeable presences in St. Louis (Carter Carburetor, McDonnell Aircraft, and Wagner Brake), and in 1958, Prim became the R. F. Carlson Company.
In 1964, the headquarters of the company moved to a new location with a small warehouse attached… right next to John Rothkopf’s Brentwood, MO home, where he lived with his wife Peggy and three children.
Russ passed away in 1976, and a few years later, John and a partner bought the company from his estate. John’s son, Mike, joined the company in October of that same year, and in early 1984, John purchased the St. Louis’ assets of the R. F. Carlson Company, leaving the company name with the partner in Florida and renaming the company we know and love today as “Rothkopf & Associates.”
The Rothkopf Of Today
With ownership of the company (and in his personal life), John Rothkopf had three absolutes he followed:
- People First!
- Always do what you said you would do.
- Always be of help to your customer, neighbor, co-worker, supplier…(really everyone, no matter who).
Looking To The Future
In all John Rothkopf’s years in the industry, he saw countless changes, both for the good and the not so good. One lesson (among many) we’ll take forward—the power of relationships. The technology of today’s world advanced incredibly fast, and with it, John began to see a growing tendency towards hands-off, impersonal transactions with clients rather than a relationship of both work and personal connection. Separating the people from the conduct of his business was anathema to the way John lived his life and ran the company he built. Our challenge now is to take full advantage of the digital era while building and maintaining the relationships we value so highly.
John Rothkopf died in February of 2022, earlier this year. With his passing, Sue, Mike, Stephen and the rest of the Rothkopf team carry the legacy of John Rothkopf on their shoulders and into the future—and we’re well prepared to do so. We have our world class supplier network of resources; a proactive approach and extensive experience; and a customer base of companies who have relied on us for decades. We also have John’s values: to always do what we say we’ll do, to always aim to help, and to put people first—to partner with engineering, purchasing and supply chain managers, not just in their roles as employees, but as whole people with interests, relationships, and values outside of work.
Looking forward, we’ll continue to work with our customers to deliver optimized solutions and the highest quality product every time. Thank you for taking a moment to read about our beloved John.