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Paul Jones' path to success: Hard work, a desire to give back

  • Paul Jones

    Paul Jones
    Courtesy of the A.O. Smith Corp.

  • Paul Jones and his wife of 48 years, Patricia. The two met while students at the University of Evansville.

    Paul Jones and his wife of 48 years, Patricia. The two met while students at the University of Evansville.
    Courtesy of Paul Jones

By Travis DeNeal
updated: 5/31/2018 5:28 PM

The former Harrisburg man whose commitment to hard work and education led to his success in the world of industrial business is sharing his success with his former high school.

Paul Jones, a 1966 graduate of Harrisburg High School, says he has many fond memories of growing up in Harrisburg, and a lot of them involve working.

"I've always worked. I've always had a job, as soon as I was old enough to work," Jones said.

In fact, one of his early jobs was carrying the Harrisburg Register to his customers on Route 10, a job he held for seven years. He also worked at the former Moo and Cackle drive-in and at the Harrisburg Park District pool.

"I was one of the first lifeguards Coach (Bill) Trees hired in 1965," Jones said.

Harrisburg's Kroger grocery was another one of his several jobs.

Those early jobs served as a whetstone to Jones' drive to succeed.

After he graduated with an engineering degree from the University of Evansville in 1971 -- working one quarter and attending school the next -- Jones found his expertise and work ethic was in demand.

"When I worked for GE, I was in nine locations and had 15 different jobs in 19 years," he said.

He continued to climb ladders and open his own doors. He has been president, CEO and/or chairman of the board for several large, high-profile industrial companies in the years since, including Greenfield Industries, U.S. Can Co., and A.O. Smith Corp.

While chairman and CEO of A.O. Smith, the company had global sales of $1.7 billion and employed about 10,500 people in its operations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, England, the Netherlands, India and China.

Currently, he is chairman of Rexnord Corp. and remains on the board of directors for A.O. Smith. He also is on the board of trustees of the University of Evansville.

While Jones is pleased with the success of his career, he said his family is what makes him proud.

"I've been married to my wife Patricia for 48 years and we have two beautiful daughters and four grandchildren," Jones said.

He and Patricia split their time between homes in Florida and South Carolina.

His mother is 89 and lives in Birmingham with one of his two sisters. His brother, Dr. Larry D. Jones, is the sole member of his family remaining in Harrisburg.

Jones said besides instilling in him a solid work ethic, his parents taught him to give back.

"Our parents were incredibly encouraging in that area," he said.

"I'm glad I can do it (support Harrisburg High School). I'm glad I've got the resources to do it," Jones said. "It makes me feel good to be able to help."