For nearly 40 years, Ron Hayes has served in the unheralded, noble role of enforcing honesty and equity among goods in the marketplace. Along the way, he has earned a legendary reputation, particularly in setting the bar for fuel quality at the pump.
“When I think about fuel quality, every place you look, there is a reminder of Ron Hayes’ work,” says Jerry Buendel, chairman of the National Conference on Weights and Measures. “A lot of Ron’s thinking and leadership are reflected in the standards we have adopted across the nation. He is the man behind these things we all take for granted.”
Whether setting the standard for octane, vapor pressure, cleanliness or labeling, Hayes deserves credit for the quality of fuel that makes the economy move forward. Meanwhile, he has helped set countless other nationwide weights and measures standards throughout his lengthy career. An educator and leader in the field, Hayes has served and continues to serve on various industry committees and boards at the national level.
As director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Division of Weights, Measures and Consumer Protection, Hayes and his team monitor the accuracy of commercial weighing and measuring devices. His division makes sure consumers receive what they pay for in both quantity and quality. Such enforcement ensures Missouri businesses compete fairly and consumers buy with confidence, Hayes says.
“Consumers cannot be an expert in all these fields, so they have to have confidence in the products they buy,” Hayes says. “What we are trying to do is protect the consumer in all of these areas.”
Hayes started with the division in 1976 as an inspector for the grain moisture tester program. In the 1980s, he helped establish the Missouri’s first fuel quality testing program at the department.
“Fuel quality was my big, original passion,” Hayes says. “I like to say we have the best fuel quality program in the nation.”
Among his most notable work, Hayes helped form a standard to measure biodiesel content in diesel fuel. The standard quickly reached the international level, and today, Missouri-born standard ASTM D7371 ensures the biodiesel that consumers and businesses purchase contains the blend shown on the label.
Even with four decades of accomplishments, Hayes has barely thought of retirement.
He has a few goals to attain first – no surprise to Buendel, who describes Hayes as determined. Even if an issue lacks early traction, Hayes will work for what he believes. Due to his persistence, consumers everywhere benefit.
“When we do go to the grocery store or any place where consumers are being affected, you think about people like Ron and the work they do silently in the background to make sure consumers get what they pay for … and businesses are playing by the same rules,” Buendel says.
Get What You Pay For
Whether it’s a cash register’s produce scale, a fuel pump’s octane label or net weights on wfood packages, Hayes’ division ensures consumers receive their money’s worth at Missouri retailers.
The Division of Weights, Measures and Consumer Protection includes 84 employees
in 17 sections. Among their duties, staff members inspect propane gas meters on delivery trucks and police against unfair milk pricing. They weigh store-packaged meats to ensure consumers pay per pound for only meat and not the packaging itself. The division’s metrology lab calibrates weights and field testing equipment. Employees confirm country-of-origin labeling, and inspectors test fuel quality of gasoline, diesel and more.
Missouri inspectors also test fuel pumps every six months – more frequently than any other state. As a result, less than 2 percent of devices rate “out of tolerance” in terms of accuracy.