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 Vernon Roche Hodgson Publications

Commemorating 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 organization:

  • 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 referred counseling.
  • Individual 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 Illinois University.

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 success there.

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 clients."

Looking back at his career, Roche simply states, "No way could I have planned this. Things just happened - all for the better."

We appreciate your professional and personal contributions, Dr. Roche, and wish you all the best always!

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