DES MOINES, Iowa – Ray Townsend, 97, founder of Townsend Engineering, has died.

Townsend’s road to success began with his first pork skinner invention in 1946 – the first in a series of machines that would secure him a place as one of the global food industry’s great innovators. Townsend was always committed to “finding a better way”, a philosophy, which would become the motto of his company.

After developing the skinner, he launched a high-speed sausage linker and multi-needle injector. Both machines remain an integral part of meat production lines worldwide today.

Born in 1913 in Des Moines, Townsend trained as a blacksmith in his father’s shop, before earning a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Iowa State Univ. in 1934. In 1946, he created meat and food processing equipment manufacturer Townsend Engineering. The company eventually went on to become the world’s largest designer and manufacturer of skinning, stuffing and injection equipment for meat, poultry and seafood processors.

Townsend obtained more than 100 US patents, plus more than 300 international patents, covering a spectrum of fields including co-extrusion, skinning, trimming, linking, meat harvesting and curing and marinating during his long and highly successful career.

Townsend also received several awards in recognition of his services to agriculture and the global meat industry. In 1982, he received the Iowa State Univ.’s Professional Achievement Award in Engineering, followed in 2005 by the same institution’s prestigious Henry A. Wallace Award.

Townsend is survived by his son, Ted.