Volume 35, Number 8, August 2000


A Diamond In The Rough

Virgil Taylor to Shine in the Glass and Metal Hall of Fame

by Ellen Giard


The following profile is first in a series highlighting inductees into the 2000 Glass and Metal Hall of Fame™, taking place during Glass Expo Midwest, October 20-21 in Chicago. This year, Virgil Taylor, formerly of Reliable Glass and Walter Williams of Cardinal Glass will take their places in the Hall of Fame.

 wpe12.jpg (10758 bytes)   wpe16.jpg (11241 bytes)In one of his first pictures Virgil was already mobile.
Virgil (R) beside his brother, Bill, grew
up moving back and forth between
Detroit and Pensacola, Fla.

Maybe it was because as a child Virgil Taylor moved with his family back and forth between Detroit and Pensacola, Fla., that he once aspired to become a truck driver. Instead, he found himself working his way through the glass industry ranks to become an inductee into the Glass and Metal Hall of Fame, class of 2000. The annual ceremony, which inducts new members each year, will take place during Glass Expo Midwest™ 2000, October 20-21, in Chicago. The Glass and Metal Hall of Fame is sponsored by USGlass magazine.

wpe15.jpg (11276 bytes)Now that he is retired, Virgil spends as much time as possible with his grandchildren.

As a father to five, stepfather to three, grandfather to 13, great grandfather to three and husband to Annette, Virgil Taylor is no stranger to recognition. He has enjoyed a long and prosperous career, complete with honors and awards from the Detroit Glass Dealers Association (DGDA), the Glazing Contractors Association and his local YMCA. He also helped organize the first Safety Glazing Meeting in Michigan.

Prior to the start of his 40-year stint in the glass industry, Taylor began his career as a carpenter, earning his journeyman’s card in 1953. It wasn’t long after that, however, he found himself setting foot into the business that would span four decades. “I went to work for Ohio Plate Glass in 1960 as a wholesale salesperson and manager trainee,” said Taylor. “In 1969 I went to work for Reliable Glass as the general manager of sales. I was there for ten years.”

wpe17.jpg (11201 bytes)After 14 years of marriage, Virgil says he’s the lucky one to have found Annette.

After nearly 20 years in the business, Taylor decided to try his hand at running his own glass shop, and on August 1, 1979, opened V&S Sales, where he served as a manufacturing rep for 12 major corporations. As he saw his business grow, he began searching for other means to increase his profits. “In 1981 I opened National Fabrications Inc., a shower door and window fabricator,” said Taylor. That same year he also added a glass tempering service, which he had to shut down in 1989. “I had about 12 employees and we were the only non-major corporation tempering at the time,” he said. “Running the tempering business was probably the most challenging part of my career. The hardest part was that operating something as hot as a tempering oven, always needed repairs, and I am not an engineer. So sometimes it was difficult to get it fixed,” he said. “But I was a small shop and just couldn’t compete with the big ones,” he added.

Following the sale of his tempering business, Taylor underwent five kidney surgeries and decided to sell his other shops in the early 1990s. “I was immortal until 1993 when I had my surgeries,” he said. “It was then that I found out I was mortal, and it was tough.”

Experiencing five surgeries may have sent some people into retirement, Taylor, however, is not one of those people. “Virgil is very persistent,” said H. Fritz Fridson, a long time friend and golf partner to Taylor, and a 1996 inductee into the Glass and Metal Hall of Fame. “He has a goal and he goes after it,” he added.

wpe18.jpg (15887 bytes)
Standing next to their 1955 DeSoto, Virgil and Annette wave goodbye as they each retired this past March.

So while the retirement sands of Florida may have been calling, Taylor made his way back to Reliable Glass where he worked as the company’s general manager for the next seven years. Not until March 31 of this year did Taylor retire. “I never disliked anything about my job. I just got old and tired and it was time to retire,” he said. “I had decided a long time ago that I was going to make working a career, not a job. A day didn’t go by that I didn’t learn something,” he added. His wife, Annette, who had worked as the DGDA secretary, retired that March as well.

Aside from his tenure with the industry, Taylor has taken an active part in clubs and organizations such as the Detroit Glass Dealers Association, the Lions Club, Elks Club, and his church, that have all kept his name and face known to the community and around town. “My home number has been on my business card for 40 years. If someone is not in the glass business or my church, I don’t know him,” he said.

wpe19.jpg (10755 bytes)Virgil (C) with Annette (L), and his mother Nettie (R), together on Mother’s Day, 1987.

Ed Williams, a 1998 inductee into the Glass and Metal Hall of Fame, is one of the many friends the industry has brought Taylor over the years.

“Virgil is a long-time, hard worker and very devoted to this business,” said Williams, who has worked with Taylor on many events and projects. “He goes out of his way to educate the industry and has been very helpful to the young companies and small mom-and-pop shops.”

With retirement now a full-time part of his life, Taylor divides his time among family, golf and other favorite pastimes. “When I was working I never took vacations,” he said. “For 40 years I worked five or six days a week, started each at five or six in the morning and worked to somewhere between five and ten at night.” Now, he spends his time as the active, supportive grandfather. “I go to every event I can—graduations, ball games, recitals—the older grandkids kind of got cheated because I worked so much, but the youngest get all they can.”

wpe1A.jpg (7482 bytes)Perfecting his swing, Taylor will be retiring to Ventura in January, 2001.

His son, who is a police officer, has also been trying to get his dad to take a motorcycle ride with him. “But I tell him I haven’t been on a bike since before he was born,” he jokingly said. His 1955 DeSoto is more his speed. Not a car to drive everyday, he does admit to driving it to church or out for ice cream. “I’m very proud of that car; they (Chrysler) stopped making them in 1962,” he said. “Annette said I didn’t need it and I told her she was right, all the time I was writing the check for it.”

In many ways Virgil Taylor’s induction into the Glass and Metal Hall of Fame may cap off his career within the industry. His passion for the business, however, has not, does not and will not wane. In January 2001 Taylor plans to pack up and head south to his condo in Florida where he will retire. And yes, it is on a golf course … just the spot for this diamond in the rough.


Copyright 2000 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.