Finisher Still Going Strong at Age 100

Ohio finishing shop owner still shows up for work every day and is involved in a number of charitable endeavors.

On April 25, Richard “Dick” Taylor showed up for work at his Mansfield, Ohio company, Taylor Metal Products, even though it was his birthday and no one would have minded if he took the day off for himself.

Like clockwork, Dick shows up for work five days a week, because he’s in charge of ordering steel at his shop, which performs electrocoating, stampings and assemblies. For Dick, it was just another day in his 100-year-old life.

The Mansfield News Journal wrote a wonderful story recently about Dick’s 100th birthday, which was actually celebrated three times: once at the shop with employees, another with just his family, and a third when people from the community stopped by a few days later to wish him well.

The story noted that family members teased Dick when they saw a television report about a 106-year-old woman who still worked six days a week at a laundry facility.

“Dad, I used to respect you, but you’re slacking,” JoAnn Taylor, his daughter-in-law, said to him.

Finishing has always been in Dick’s blood, even though he started his career wanting to spend time with Mother Nature and being outdoors. His father started the company in 1928 while Dick was studying forestry at Michigan State University. After working as a forester in Montana after college, he returned home to Mansfield at the height of the Great Depression to help his father’s company.

Taylor Metal Products got out of the electroplating business in 1996; they currently perform electrocoating in-house, and contract out zinc and nickel plating to one of his son’s company, Kronis Coating, which also does powder coating for them.

Today, his sons Mark and Scott run Taylor Metal Products, but Dick is still a big deal in Mansfield, a town of about 47,000 people located halfway between Columbus and Cleveland. Though he prefers to stay quiet and behind-the-scenes, his generosity outweighs his quest for anonymity.

The building that houses Progress Industries was recently named for the Taylor family. The facility provides a variety of vocational services to help individuals with disabilities become “work ready” and trained to enter the workforce and provide for themselves.

Not only did Dick provide monetary support to the facility and its mission over the years, but he also guided work their way, especially with packaging Sterno stove parts that his company was helping to manufacture and finish.

Dick was also involved in many other charitable endeavors, including the local YMCA with Camp Glen Taylor named for his father, and for helping keep the city pools open, but his heart was in Progress Industries, and everyone in town knew that.

But there was another special reason for Dick’s generosity. Dick’s son Jon was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor at the age of four, with little hope that he would survive. But Dick and his wife, Helen, refused to give in to the doctor’s gloomy prognosis, and enrolled him in rehab facilities that helped care for and train their son.

Growing up, Jon was just like all the other children in Mansfield; he was a Boy Scout and active in school, eventually graduating and joining Progress Industries. He loved going to work every day (I wonder where he got that idea?) and fundraising for the facility. In 2009, Jon was appointed to the capital campaign committee, a task he took on with a determination.

That summer, riding his three-wheel bike all over Mansfield asking for donations and contributions, Jon raised over $300,000, making him one of the biggest donors to the renovation project. Working at Progress Industries was a job he loved dearly, right up until his passing at age 54.

So when it came time to honor Dick, the local movers and shakers thought that there could no better way than by naming the building Jon worked in every day after his family. There is even a bronze bust of Jon in front of the building, smiling like he always did, just like his father does now.

Medical Mutual, an Ohio-based insurance company, also stepped in and donated $100,000 to Progress Industries, pledging $1,000 for every year of Dick’s life.

The $100,000 will be used to pay for transportation to work for disabled people.

“It was 100 percent unbelievable,” Dick said of the donation. “Such a wonderful thing.” 

 

Originally published in the June 2016 issue.

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