Gary L. Taylor, founder of the telemarketing services company InfoCision and community philanthropist, died Saturday at age 59.
The lifelong Akron-area resident was a University of Akron graduate and earned an MBA at the school where he met his wife, Karen, while serving as a graduate assistant. The couple were married 34 years.
Mr. Taylor suffered a heart attack in September 2009, the day after the new University of Akron football stadium bearing his company’s name opened.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Gary,” Steve Brubaker, InfoCision chief of staff, said Monday in a written statement. “We have all lost a great friend and leader. Gary made this company what it is today through hard work, dedication and a strong sense of integrity. His mark is indelibly stamped on the industry, as well as on our company and its culture. The InfoCision family will miss him more than anyone will ever know.”
Mr. Taylor began his career working for Rex Humbard Ministries, leaving as director of marketing. He started InfoCision Management Corp. in 1982, now the nation’s second largest privately owned telephone marketing company, in his former Coventry Township home.
He used four workers Humbard had just laid off from his Cathedral of Tomorrow church-office complex in Cuyahoga Falls and taught them how to make “outbound telemarketing” calls, which were then a relatively new concept. Humbard then used Mr. Taylor’s company for his calls. Another early client for the Firestone Park native’s company was another nationally known religious figure, Jerry Falwell.
In a 2007 interview with the Beacon Journal, Taylor said in those early days, he didn’t envision what the future would bring.
“You’re so involved and so in the trenches, it’s one day at a time. You’re so focused on what you’re doing. It drives you crazy if you have these wild dreams. I just dealt with it as it comes and a series of three-year plans,” he said.
The Bath Township-based company now employs more than 4,000 in three states and 1,460 in Summit County, including at its headquarters off Springside Drive and at a facility in Green.
The company has nine divisions, including units that make calls for national nonprofit agencies and associations, the Republican political party and conservative candidates, volunteer recruitment and commercial customer service.
Over the years, InfoCision and the Taylors have been significant benefactors in the Akron area.
The Taylors in 2004 created the Gary L. and Karen S. Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at the University of Akron with a gift of $3.6 million to their alma mater. The institute says its mission is to train students in direct marketing, including telemarketing, and was the first such program of its kind.
In 2009, they contributed $10 million for 20-year naming rights for the newly constructed UA football stadium.
“Gary was a tremendous champion for the University of Akron,” UA President Luis Proenza said in an interview Monday morning. “We have missed him since his illness. Not only, of course, did he put his company’s name on our stadium and in doing so put us over the top in moving toward that unique opportunity, but he worked with us in so many other ways.”
The Taylor Institute “has been a tremendous asset,” said Proenza. “Because of that, the university enjoys one of the leading programs in sales and marketing in the country.”
John LaGuardia, UA’s vice president for public affairs and development, said the Taylors’ “total commitments to the University of Akron exceed $13.7 million and also include support to the men’s soccer team and merit and need scholarships for students in the College of Business Administration.”
The company sponsors high school football fields in districts where it has offices: Copley, Green and Revere.
In the 2007 Beacon Journal story, Taylor said of his donations: “'It’s not like I view it as a great investment. To me, it was a way of giving back to the university.”
Taylor semi-retired from InfoCision in 2004 to pursue other business projects. His wife and children, Craig and Lindsey, are all active in the company. Craig is the company’s CEO.
Taylor’s first employee he hired three decades ago still works for the company.
“I met and started working for Gary when I was 18 years old,” said Vickie Creekmore, InfoCision vice president of corporate facilities. “He was so much more than a boss. He was my friend and a great mentor. I will miss him terribly like so many others,” she said.
“He taught me a lot about life and had a dramatic impact on me and my entire family. Gary was indeed a great man of honor and integrity and I am so thankful he was a part of my life.”
Mr. Taylor was an avid golfer and was the principal owner of Granite Golf Properties, which owns and operates Medina Country Club, the Quarry in Canton and Shale Creek in Medina.
He is survived by his wife, Karen; his children, Lindsay Tadsen and her husband, Thomas, and Craig Taylor and his wife, Mindi; and a grandson, Thomas Tadsen III.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at Billow Fairlawn Chapel, 85 N. Miller Road. A private interment will follow.
Friends may call at the funeral home from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and one hour before the service Thursday.
Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3688 or firstname.lastname@example.org.