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American Dreamers

How Two Oregon Farm Kids Transformed an Industry, a Community, and a University

Ken Austin

Published by the Oregon State University Alumni Association

with Kerry Tymchuk

5.5 × 8.5. B&W photographs. 144 pages.

2015. ISBN 978-0-87071-774-1. Hardcover, $19.95.

Ken Austin rose from humble roots in rural Oregon to build a multi-million dollar international business, guided by a core set of principles and the tireless support of his wife and partner, Joan. Together they grew A-dec from a kitchen table operation into one of the world’s largest manufacturers of dental equipment, with markets in over 100 countries.

In American Dreamers, Ken Austin details the inventions, decisions, and guiding principles that gained A-dec worldwide respect and admiration. First introduced in 1975, and frequently imitated, the “A-dec Way” presents a 15-point operating philosophy governing all aspects of the company. With values such as showing respect for others and encouraging creativity, the “A-dec Way” provides a blueprint for quality, innovation, and compassion in the business world.

More than a conventional accounting of business, American Dreamers tells of personal adventures and obstacles along the way. From Joan’s conjuring of The Allison—a world-class resort spa—in the middle of Yamhill County, to his own long battle with alcoholism, Austin relates their struggles as well as their triumphs with courage, honesty, and grace.
This is the story of one of Oregon’s most important companies, a moving portrait of a marriage, and an inspiring look at the heart and mind of a remarkable man. Long-known for his philanthropy and contributions to Oregon’s cultural life, Ken Austin continues to give back with American Dreamers.

Member of AAUP