IMC Intuition

Thinking out loud about all things IMC

Remembering Jonathan Smith and Roy Lock

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This past month we were saddened to learn of the passing of two of the visionary leaders, who created the SECO/WARWICK brand from the remnants of Sunbeam Equipment Corp. and Warwick Furnace Company. 

First SECO/WARWICK National Sales Conference, 1984

Jim Williams, Jonathan Smith and Roy Lock are in the second row, 5th, 6th and 7th from the left

Jonathan Smith was born in England and came to the United States at the age of 2.  Enrolled in the University of Illinois, in 1942 he put his college career on hold to join the Army.  During World War II he held the rank of Sergeant serving in the South Pacific and winning the Bronze Star.  He returned to college, completed a B. S. in Metallurgical Engineering and began his career at Sunbeam Corp. in 1947 as a project engineer.  He quickly rose in the organization with promotions including sales manager (1949), project manager of Sunbeam Equipment Corp. (1958), VP Sales (1961), Executive VP (1965) and President (1968).  He was then transferred back to Sunbeam in Chicago in 1974 to become the general manager of all heat treating operations with the industrial-commercial group, retiring in 1983, the year after Sunbeam was taken over by Allegheny Industries.

Meadville employees met Roy Locke for the first time after the announcement that Jim Williams, O. H. Warwick, Jonathan Smith and Roy had created a new corporation, purchasing the assets of Sunbeam Equipment Corp. and the Warwick Furnace Company.  Jim Williams served as company president, while Jon and Roy were infrequent visitors from 1984 until 1987, when SECO/WARWICK was sold to a new group led by Paul Huber and Jeff Boswell. 

Roy Lock was also born in England; his family immigrated to the U.S. in 1919.  He began his career at the Chicago Railway Equipment Company.  During this time, he enrolled in night school earning a business degree in the early 1940s and later becoming a CPA.  He joined Sunbeam (then, Chicago Flexible Shaft Co.) in 1941, and over the next 40 years, rose through the ranks to become the controller in 1970.  He too, retired in 1983, only to return to join his colleagues on their new venture.

Why do I remember these gentlemen as inspirational leaders?  Both men effectively practiced management by walking around. 

I first met Jonathan Smith at age 19, when I worked as a temp at what was then, the lowliest job in the office – the blueprint room.  A person with true charisma, Jonathan Smith started every day by personally greeting every single one of the 200 odd employees who worked both in the office and the shop.  The fact that he would take time each morning to recognize me, an uneducated teenager, was surreal, and left a lasting impression on me.  It has been said that we don’t remember what people say, but we always remember how people make us feel, and Jonathan Smith always made me feel like a valuable part of his team.

By the time Roy started visiting our Meadville office, I was a cost estimator working in Accounting.  Roy knew nothing about estimating, but he always made it a point to visit our group to recognize our team and acknowledge our contribution to the well-being of the company. 

Jon and Roy understood that executives don’t make the products and provide services; employees do, from the most humble janitor to the highest caliber salesman.  Everyone is important – at least that’s the impression they gave us.  Their interpersonal style and positive demeanor is what made working for these great gentlemen a true pleasure, and well worth remembering.


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