Bill, a registered professional engineer, has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has completed substantial graduate work in electromechanical design at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis. He holds thirteen patents, primarily in the field of industrial laser processing, but also in All Wheel Drive motorcycles.
In 1978 he founded a production company, Laser Machining, Inc. (LMI), for industrial laser processing and laser system manufacturing. For close to 25 years Bill was the majority owner and engineering manager during the years laser technology transitioned from a pioneering to an emerging market and while 95% of other start-up companies disappeared.
From an initial investment of $15,000, and without further outside investment, LMI developed into a market leader employing 225 people. The company grew by reinvesting earnings and by carefully taking advantage of market changes. Bill kept LMI focused on opportunities that were challenging and profitable but did not reach beyond the capability of the company to provide a good solution for the customer. As a result, in 25 years of manufacturing more than 1000 systems, LMI only needed to give money back to two customers where the system did not do what was promised.
Prior to founding LMI, Bill worked at 3M Company in their Central Research Division, was an advanced concepts engineer for the U.S. Army Tank and Automotive Command, and in 1974 started the engineering consulting firm Lawson, Lawson & Assoc., working with his father Robert R. Lawson, (BS Eng 1932 Purdue Univ.). Their clients included Harken Yacht Fittings, and North Sails Inc.
Bill is a private pilot with twin-engine, instrument and seaplane ratings. He is an avid downhill skier and gadget maker in his home machine shop. Bill has served on the Board of Directors of the Laser Institute of America (LIA) since 1998, holding the offices of Treasurer and President. In 2004 he was named a Fellow by the LIA. In the community Bill was elected to the Somerset School Board for eleven years, and the Bass Lake Rehabilitation District Board from 1997 to the present.
Since 2011, Bill has been working on his patented AWD motorcycle conversions. Currently there are 8 different prototype AWD motorcycles built. The Lawson AWD prototypes are built on many popular donor bikes such as the: KTM 300 EXC, KTM 350 EXC, AJP PR4 and the Yamaha XT250. These prototypes are fully functional and have proven the durability and applications possible for this type of bike. In fact – the KTM versions have been raced in Hare Scrambles/Enduro with excellent results!