20 Years of Service
"We always kept an eye on what
benefited the client!"
—William Roche, Ph.D.—
This phrase epitomizes the philosophy of Dr. Bill
Roche’s nearly 50-year career as an industrial psychologist. His
career path wound through several Fortune 500 companies, independent
practice, academia, and ultimately led him to endow his considerable
talents and reputation to Vernon Roche Hodgson.
It all started back in 1952 when Roche’s graduate
studies were interrupted to join Caterpillar. "I had the best
orientation and on-the-job training that anyone could want in the field
of industrial psychology," according to Roche, crediting Harold A.
Vonachen, the medical director who set up the industrial psychologist
program for his Caterpillar division. The program consisted of four
leading-edge components, which cut across all levels within the
- Testing - The selection process
included testing all new college graduates, apprentices, and factory
personnel prior to initial placement
- Employee Assistance - Assisting
employees with personal problems through either internal or externally
Personal and Management Development - Employee development counseling,
testing, and alternate job placement recommendations.
- Studies -
More traditional turnover studies, attitude surveys, and test validation
provided within occupational groups.
Roche met Richard Hodgson at Caterpillar in 1955.
"We worked for the same department doing similar types of work and
developed a close professional relationship that was recognized company
wide. We really worked well together."
In 1958, Roche took a 2-year educational leave to
complete his doctoral studies in industrial psychology from Southern
By 1964, Roche accepted a corporate staff position
that put him in contact with an industrial psychologist from Texas
Instruments who was pioneering employee involvement in work problem
identification and problem solving, known as Quality Circles. Intrigued
with the whole concept, Roche left Caterpillar in 1966 to join Texas
Instruments as a Quality Circle project manager for their Attleboro,
Massachusetts facility. Roche experienced immediate and measurable
In the meantime, Hodgson left Caterpillar to join the
Vernon Psychological Laboratory in Chicago.
Although not unhappy at Texas Instruments, Roche’s
success at Attleboro probably meant a move to Texas - a move he was not
interested in making. Having maintained contact, Hodgson arranged for an
interview with Leroy Vernon, whom Roche already knew, and the rest is
history. Roche joined the firm as the first resident psychologist in
Milwaukee in 1968.
Professional differences, however, prompted Roche to
leave the Lab in 1970. He practiced independently for 9 years. In 1979,
Roche was approached by Hodgson to fold his practice into the Lab.
According to Roche, "The fit was pretty good and the styles
blended. I didn’t hesitate and it all came together."
On January 1, 1981, Roche and Hodgson bought the Lab
as 50/50 partners and subsequently renamed the firm Vernon Roche
Hodgson. "Dick and I had a tremendous working relationship. Dick
maintained the Chicago office and I continued to operate out of
Milwaukee," recalls Roche.
Hodgson passed away in 1994.
After 20 years at Vernon Roche Hodgson, Roche is
retiring, allowing for more time to be spent with family and friends,
travel, and to write his autobiography.
When asked what he enjoyed most about his many years
with Vernon Roche Hodgson, Roche says without pause, "the
tremendous independence and relationships with competent colleagues
customizing and molding programs." He adds quickly, "I also
had the opportunity to develop true friendships with many of my
Looking back at his career, Roche simply states,
"No way could I have planned this. Things just happened - all for
We appreciate your professional and
personal contributions, Dr. Roche, and wish you all the best always!
(VRH's short topic pieces that relate to organizational performance.)
Commemorating 20 Years of Service
"Sorry, wrong executive."
"Leaders aren't born"
"Fit is It"