Obituary: Dave Power, auto quality and consumer research pioneer
EDITOR’S NOTE: Business Times subscribers can read our 2014 profile of Dave Power here.
James David “J.D.” Power, whose name came to symbolize quality rankings in autos and other consumer products, has died at age 89.
He passed away of natural causes on Jan. 23 in Thousand Oaks, according to a statement from the family.
A member of the Business Times Hall of Fame, Power worked for Ford Motor Co. and for McCann Erickson, and then struck out on his own after developing an interest in automotive marketing.
He developed the business plan for J.D. Power & Associates on his dining room table in Calabasas in 1968 and, as the company grew, he moved it to Westlake Village where it continues to operate as a global brand intelligence company. J.D. Power & Associates was sold to McGraw Hill in 2005 and now operates as part of private equity firm Thoma Bravo.
A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Power attended the College of the Holy Cross, served in the Coast Guard and used his veteran’s benefits to get an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Armed with a low-key yet engaging personality as well as a passion for data analysis, he earned the trust of the CEOs at global automobile manufacturers and his quality rankings were taken seriously as ways for those companies to improve.
Among his innovations in getting answers from consumers was putting brand-new dollar bills into survey envelopes to generate higher response rates. Initial quality rankings by J.D. Power are still an industry benchmark, and the J.D. Power logo has become a standard of quality for products worldwide.
In addition to raising a family and building a company, Power exerted a subtle pull on economic development in the Conejo Valley. He helped establish the Westlake Village/Thousand Oaks corridor as a home for high-quality, niche-oriented corporate headquarters. Although he loved Southern California, he never gave up his New England roots and continued to support the Boston Celtics and Red Sox.
After the sale, Powers set up a family office in Thousand Oaks and continued to live in the area. He is survived by his wife Joan and four children.
Contributions in his memory can be made to the National Coast Guard Museum Association or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. A public memorial will be held at a later date.