Editor's Note: The editors of Locksmith Ledger are pleased to present an expanded version of our Icons of the Industry feature article from our 65th Anniversary coverage in November 2004. In interviewing these industry leaders, we realized that their accomplishments were far too numerous to fit in a...
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Psolka would like to be remembered for helping people, an early lesson passed on from Leonard Singer. "We were sitting in his car one night, and he asked me, 'If you decide to work for me, what do you think you would want to do most?' Being a young buck at that time, I said, 'Make more money, of course.' 'That's not the way to look at it,' he said. 'You should set your sights on helping people. Help them do their jobs better. Help solve their problems. Help them with good advice. That should be your major focus. The money will follow.' He was right!"
Bill Swetow is the second-generation of the family-owned Mayflower Sales Company, located in Brooklyn, N.Y. Bill's father, Joseph Swetow, started Mayflower Sales in 1917 as a distributor of automotive radiator supplies. In 1935, Joseph Swetow added automotive locks to Mayflower's product line. With the success of automotive locks, Mayflower expanded to residential and commercial lock hardware. By the mid-1960s, Mayflower Sales was a full line locksmith distributor.
Bill's involvement at Mayflower began after his college graduation in 1939. Except for four years of military duty during World War II, Bill has been involved with Mayflower Sales Company for more than 60 years. This family-run business now includes the third generation. Bill's son Paul Swetow is the Vice President. Paul is the proud father of twin infant sons. There are hopes that at least one of the twins becomes the fourth generation.
Bill has seen the locksmith industry evolve from Segal (surface-mounted) locks to today's mechanical high security locks, the pushbutton lock and electronic access control.
Bill lives by his father's business philosophy: "If you want to make the world a better place, start by keeping your own corner clean." He would like to be remembered as an ethical businessman.
James L. Taylor
When Jim Taylor began his career, combination lock manipulation was considered almost a figment of the imagination. Taylor and Lockmasters removed the myth, making it a usable locksmith tool.
Taylor began his locksmithing apprenticeship in 1948 with Safemasters in Washington, D. C. (then owned by his uncle, John C. Miller). Jerry Connelly also began his apprenticeship at the same time; they worked together and became best friends. From Safemasters, he went to Dept. of Defense, Physical Security Equipment Agency in 1952. From there he went to Sargent & Greenleaf in the research department. During this period, Taylor, Harry Miller and Leonard Singer began Lockmasters, Inc. He ran this company until 1973.
But his interest in locksmithing began much earlier. Uncle John C. Miller would take various locks to him for examination when visiting the family during his childhood. He developed a fascination for locking mechanisms during this time, which continues to this day. "Uncle John was a hard taskmaster but he instilled in me the need for doing things the right way," Jim reports.
During his S&G days, Taylor was a driving force in achieving world recognition and leadership for that company in the industry. He made countless trips to countries around the world to set up and maintain worldwide representation contacts. Many lock and safe men in the industry today began their education with Lockmasters. Taylor was awarded the Philadelphia Award in 1966.
Taylor founded Precision Products Inc. in 1974. At Precision Products he designed and manufactured safe deposit locks still in use today. The first self-powered electronic lock was developed at Precision (and later became Mas Hamilton / KABA Mas / KABA).Also in 1974, he founded Taylor Resources Inc. In 2000, he launched Tayco Inc., in current operation with his son. Next, Taylor launched Bullseye SD Locks Inc. in 2001, also in current operation with son James H. Taylor.