Successful entrepreneur A. Leon Linton will receive an honorary degree and give the commencement address at Lawrence Technological University’s 82nd commencement exercises on May 10.
LTU will hold indoor ceremonies beginning at 1 p.m. at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac. The university is awarding more than 850 degrees this academic year.
Linton will receive an honorary doctor of engineering. He founded Southern Systems, Inc. (SSI) in 1968 to design, manufacture, and install conveyor systems, automation equipment, and electrical controls on a turnkey basis. The company serves manufacturers of heavy trucks, construction equipment, military tanks, oil field pipe, aircraft, furniture and appliances.
Projects at SSI range from small system modifications to multimillion-dollar green-field programs. SSI conveyors are used in the manufacture and processing of small products, weighing only several ounces, to unit loads of over 100,000 pounds, and almost every shape and size in between.
SSI, with two facilities in Memphis, Tennessee, and a branch in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, is also one of only a few companies in the nation capable of slipform continuous pour concrete construction of massive silos and related equipment associated with ethanol production, cement manufacturing, pet food processing, and coal handling and storage.
Linton’s many achievements include pioneering innovations that have become industry standards.
Linton, a 1962 graduate in mechanical engineering, is one of Lawrence Tech’s most generous supporters. In 2008, the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering was named in his honor, reflecting his outstanding professional contributions and support. He is a member of LTU’s Capital Campaign Steering Committee. He is a previous winner of the Alumni Achievement Award.
Linton attended night classes at Lawrence Tech while working in the millwright trade in construction and installation of conveyor systems, machinery, and automation equipment. While still a student, he joined Jervis B. Webb Company where he expanded his skill set for manufacturing. His evening courses at LTU paid dividends quickly on the job.
He has fond memories of his college instructors. “These teachers took a real interest in helping me, and others, ‘get through school,’ Some professors would stay, even at the end of a late night class, to help me and others understand a particular problem,” he said “This dedication was especially meaningful to young, would-be engineers, as we all needed encouragement.”
Linton’s family had moved from the South when he was 12 and he returned after completing his degree. He opened a one-man office for Webb in Memphis, where he did engineering sales in the region and continued to serve other Webb offices and facilities nationwide. He founded his own company six years later.