In Memoriam: Lad Sanda, Jr of TRO Manufacturing

In Memoriam of Lad Sanda, written and posted at Sanda’s September 2023 memorial by his son Scott. Scott is a 3rd Generation co-owner of  TRO Manufacturing in Franklin Park, IL – 

Lad Sanda Jr was Born in 1940 in Berwyn, Illinois.

As a boy, he moved to several different states as his father moved around for work. Eventually, they all ended up back in Illinois, where he attended Riverside Brookfield High School.

There he met his future wife, the love of his life, Patricia Strunc.

On October 7th, 1961, Lad and Pat were married. This coming October (2023) would have marked 62 years of Marriage. 

One truly notable highlight of his career prior to TRO, he was fired as a tooling engineer from Elkay Engineering because his Boss was working side projects. To be clear, Lad was not part of this, but he got swept up in the purge.

In 1964, Lad and his Father, Laddie Sanda Sr., purchased a small machine shop in Franklin Park.

Grandpa Laddie took out a second mortgage on his house to fund the purchase. Thus, TRO Manufacturing was born, as it currently sits.

Lad’s first son, Scott, was born in March of 1965. His second son, Chris, was born in July of 1967.

Today, Scott and Chris own and run TRO, making it a 3-generation company.

Lad’s brother Karl joined the business but left to go on to other things in the mid 80’s.

In the 70’s, Laddie Senior retired for health reasons. So, in the 1970’s, a mid 30’s Lad Jr. took over running TRO.

Lad served in the 126th Air Refueling Wing as a reservist from 1962 to 1968. His specialty was communications and teletype repair. This required a Top-Secret security clearance with a National Agency background check. Strangely enough, he never once worked on the Wings teletype machines. These were under a service contract with IBM. And yes, those machines were the Top Secret Encrypted machines that were used for all deployment, attack, and Launch codes.

Lad had many favorite pastimes. Fishing and Golf are at the top of the list.

But his number one overall passion was Sportscar racing. In the early 60’s, he raced his daily driver, an Austin Healy Bugeye Sprite, at Wilmot Raceway with the Salt Creek Sports Car Club.

Starting TRO took away his time, so he hung up his boots until circumstances allowed. In 1992, he started racing again with the Chicago Region SCCA and Porsche Club. He ran a Formula V, and a succession of 911’s. His last race car was a Porsche 914-4, which we still have.

He had to hang up his boots once again when his health would no longer allow him to safely race, about 10 years ago.

As Chris and I grew up, no matter how busy he was, Lad always took the time to attend our events. Most notably football games and wrestling matches.

Chris and I both have tapes of most of the matches because Lad bought a “portable” camera and video recorder. (If you can call a huge camera and recorder “portable”) Sometimes, the video got shaky, as he was also busy cheering for us.d

Lad and Pat purchased a house in Naples, Florida, and even before he retired 100%, they would spend time in Naples and here in Illinois. After he fully retired, they became Florida residents and spent every winter in the relative warmth of Florida.

In 2017, Lad fully retired, and complete ownership of TRO was transferred to Chris and me, although Lad was still an important part of the company, providing advice, insight, and engineering.

Lad was possibly the best draw die designer ever to live, although it is debatable if he, or Al Mortensen from Bingaman Precision, was the “best’.

The two of them would collaborate, with a lot of yelling, name-calling, and such, and when they were done, there was a die that made things no one else could.

With Al retired and Lad gone, two of the giants are gone from the industry, much to all of our sorrow.

More information on Lad Sanda at