About the iHub

Clyde H. McMillan

Clyde H. McMillan Innovation Hub

Dedicated in September 2017, the Innovation Hub (iHub) is a collaborative center that fosters and supports the development and implementation of innovative ideas, technologies, and projects by bringing together Valparaiso University students, faculty and staff, and community members from Valparaiso, Northwest Indiana, Indiana and beyond with diverse skills, talents, and ideas in one collaborative space.

The Innovation Hub was made possible through nearly $1.4 million donation received from the estate of the late Deborah “Deb” A. Tschetter, 1971 Valparaiso University College of Business graduate, and Stewart G. McMillan and Kathryn H. McMillan, who donated the building that houses the collaborative space. The building is named Clyde H. McMillan Hall, in memory of Stewart’s father and founder of Task Force Tips, Chief Clyde H. McMillan.

A story of innovation and the pursuit of the American Dream. Clyde H. McMillan turned a childhood passion into a vision during a Friday morning breakfast in 1968. He revolutionized the fire industry by drawing the basic design for the next generation fire nozzle in this napkin. He knew immediately that fighting fires with his new nozzle would be more effective and would make the fire ground a safer place, yet he found himself facing down tradition in the way fires were fought. In an industry firmly based on traditional way, he knew that to sell his product and make his new business a success he would have to educate and convince firefighters along the way that he was right.

Over the next few years, Clyde worked to turn his vision into a reality. The firefighter and engineer from Iowa set out alongside his family to build his company Task Force Tips up from a basement startup into an established company in Northwest Indiana. In 1976, he was able to leave his full-time position with U.S. Steel and devoted himself totally to his dream. Shortly thereafter, the business moved to Valparaiso, Leaving the basement behind in order to move into a new manufacturing facility.

Though he died in 1982, the company that he founded has continued to flourish and serve the fire industry he loved with innovative products that make firefighting safer and more efficient. Because of his ideas, his vision of what was possible, and his drive to work hard towards his goal – and a design on a napkin – Clyde and his invention changed the fire industry forever and saved countless lives throughout the world.

Kathryn and Stewart G. McMillan

Kathryn and Stewart G. McMillan

Stewart McMillan has been involved in the fire industry since childhood. His earliest recollection is riding back to the fire station on the knee of a Chicago Fire Department lieutenant on Squad 2 when he was six years old. Throughout his childhood, Stewart found hanging out at the fire station far more interesting than hanging out with other kids. As Chief Clyde McMillan, Stewart’s father, grew the Gary Fire Task Force, Stewart spent weekends helping rebuild and maintain the menagerie of old fire apparatus obtained by the Civil Defense Fire Department. In 1968, at the age of 14, Stewart drove a 1947 International Pumper to a lumber yard fire, and connected it to the hydrant with a hard suction all by himself. From that point on, he remained involved with the Gary Fire Task Force through 1973. 

Stewart attended Purdue University Northwest, graduating in 1977 with the first interdisciplinary degree in engineering issued at the Hammond Campus. He earned his degree while working full-time to help his father in the struggling family business. In the early years of the company, he was involved with manufacturing, while his father and brother, Douglas, handled the sales aspects. Task Force Tips, Inc., grew rapidly, and in May 1976, groundbreaking took place for the company’s first facility in Valparaiso, Indiana. 

In the fall of 1982, a great tragedy struck the McMillan family when Chief Clyde McMillan died from a heart attack while fighting a fire with Stewart. At that time Stewart, age 28, became president of Task Force Tips. During Stewart’s tenure as president, Task Force Tips grew from $1 million in annual sales to $60 million in annual sales with 260 employees and worldwide distribution. The company was sold in 2017 to Chicago-based Madison Industries.

With the proceeds of the sale of Task Force Tips, Stewart established the McMillan Family Foundation to fund training opportunities for first responders in Northwest Indiana. Out of that effort evolved MAAC, the Multi Agency Academic Cooperative, named to honor Stewart’s father Clyde “Mack” McMillan. Under the leadership of the MAAC board of directors the MAAC campus has exploded and is now serving hundreds of police, fire and EMS first responders on a daily basis.

Stewart is a member of the Valparaiso Park Foundation Board of Directors, the Valparaiso Rotary Club and the Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce. He is also active in the international Young Presidents Organization. Stewart has been a member of the Union Township Fire Department and Washington Township Fire Department, and has held officer positions on both departments at the same time. 

An aviation enthusiast, Stewart is a certified instrument multi-engine jet pilot, as well as a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association and the Airplane Owners & Pilots Association. He has flown several “missions” for LifeLine Pilots – a nonprofit organization that flies patients with healthcare needs to the proper facilities, entirely through the donation of the pilot’s time and aircraft. He also flies missions for the Veterans Airlift Command which transports wounded warriors with injuries sustained in the line of duty. 

Stewart and his wife, Kathryn, have two children, Kelly and Ian, and two grandsons, Mack and Zeke