Bill Conway

William E. Conway

2013 Person of the Year

Bill Conway, born William Edward, is an entrepreneur, community activist and philanthropist. With his wife, Mary, he has expanded the boundaries of traditional business and created the internationally recognized, industry leader capable of meeting the needs many of the world’s major industries such as oil and gas, foundry and glass – Fairmount Minerals.

Bill was born on October 16, 1927 in Cleveland, Ohio to Tim and Margaret Conway and is the middle child in a family of 13. At a young age, Bill learned the values of hard work, responsibility and dedication when his four older brothers went off to the service and his father’s demands increased after taking over as President of Fisher Foods in 1942. Bill learned from his father’s wisdom to be a “Be a giver – not a taker.” He continues to live by this motto and has passed it on to his four children and ten grandchildren.

Conway began his love for education and entrepreneurship at an early age – it was fostered by his parents with their strong commitment to education. With a strong educational foundation and passion to learn, Bill went on to receive a Bachelor of Science Degree from Yale University in 1949 and completed the Executive Program at the University of California, Berkeley in 1970. Bill is a lifelong learner.

With his own aspiration and his father’s business success as further encouragement, Conway began his career in mining and later the desire to own his own business following four years spent in Australia opening a new iron ore mine.

In 1978 that dream became reality. Conway and a group of investors purchased Best Sand in Chardon, Ohio which, at the time, had sales of $4 million, one salesman, a foreman, 30 hourly workers and three clerks. This transaction planted the seed that would blossom into Fairmount Minerals. In 1978, Conway met Chuck Fowler—who was Vice President of Operations for the industrial sand division of Martin Marietta (Wedron Silica Company). Conway and Fowler ultimately merged the two sand mining plants into one company – Fairmount Minerals. Thirty-Five years later Fairmount Minerals’ has grown to more than 750 employees and revenues to over $800 Million.

In 1995, Bill’s love for golf and his entrepreneurial spirit led him to dream, design (with Tom Fazio) and manage one of today’s top golf courses in the United States, Sand Ridge Golf Club. Today, he continues to lend his expertise and strategic direction to the course as a past member of Board of the Mayfield Sand Ridge Club and continues to serve on the Greens Committee.

Conway also lends his wisdom and expertise to various other Executive Boards including Chairman of Austin Capital Partners and Mid-America Consulting Group. He has also held board positions on the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company and First Union Real Estate Investment Trust. Additionally, Conway is past Chairman and a Director of the National Industrial Sand Association, a former member of the Board of Directors of Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, and belongs to the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers, the American Foundrymen’s Society and the Ohio Cast Metals Association.

Reflecting on his community involvement and philanthropic interests Bill devotes a significant amount of time to local organizations that tie closely to his passions including Cleveland Botanical Garden, University School and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

In addition to his business and civic accomplishments Conway has been honored with the Dively Entrepreneurship Award from Harvard Business School Club of Northeastern Ohio, Master Entrepreneur of the Year in Northeast Ohio in 1993. More recently Bill was honored by Cleveland State University with an Honorary Doctorate Degree and was inducted into the Inside Business – Business Hall of Fame.

He and his wife Mary have four children and ten grandchildren. They enjoy spending time with their growing family and traveling the world. Bill is proud to be receiving this honor to further develop the relationship amongst City of Mayo, Ireland and Northeast Ohio for generations to come.