Raymond D. Meyo, who led former high-tech hand-held computer pioneer Telxon Corp. in Fairlawn to dizzying heights before leaving the company in 1992, has died. He was 71.
Friends said he died of a sudden heart ailment on Thursday. Mr. Meyo was a former trustee at the University of Akron. He was a 1964 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, which named Meyo Field at the Loftus Sports Center after his family following fundraising donations.
Mr. Meyo was a well-known corporate leader in the Akron area with Telxon, a company whose roots went back to its founding in 1969 in Houston as Electronic Laboratories.
The company was purchased by businessman Robert Meyerson, who hired Meyo as the electronics salesman for Bath Township company System Market Corp. The two men subsequently built a worldwide market for specialized hand-held computers whose customers included Wal-Mart and other corporate giants. The small devices were used to input inventory information and then transmitted that information via radio to much more powerful mainframe computers.
“I had high admiration for him as a man and as a businessman,” said Jon Hawes, a former University of Akron marketing professor now at Indiana State University. Hawes published a case study of Mr. Meyo in 2008. “He was a great role model,” he said.
What few people know is that Mr. Meyo was incorrectly diagnosed in his youth as mentally retarded and had a severe speech impediment, Hawes wrote in the paper. He overcame the speech impediment with the strong support of his family, particularly his mother, along with practicing talking in front of a mirror so he could see how his lips moved, Hawes said. Mr. Meyo also was a voracious reader who by the age of 10 had read the Harvard Classics books — a collection of numerous volumes — three times.
“I think he was proud of how he overcame some obstacles in his life,” Hawes said. “I think it is a really touching story. His life is one of extraordinary achievement. … Boy, he’s an Akron story.”
Mr. Meyo would tell students about selling Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton on the Telxon hand-held computers, Hawes recalled. Meyo said that Walton showed up at 4:30 one morning to give breakfast to the Telxon employees installing the new computer system, Hawes said.
“That was an important part of Wal-Mart’s success,” Hawes said.
Gerry Faust, former Notre Dame and University of Akron football coach, said Mr. Meyo was one of his best friends. In recent years they lived about a block apart in Fairlawn, he said.
“I met him back in 1981 at Notre Dame,” Faust said. “From that day on, we were the best of friends. … I’ve been blessed in my life to have friends like Ray Meyo.”
Mr. Meyo did a lot for people and the community, almost all behind the scenes, Faust said.
“He never wanted anybody to know,” Faust said.
“His family was number one. His family was first, above anything,” he said. “Number two was Notre Dame football.”
Alex Arshinkoff was chairman of the University of Akron board of trustees while Mr. Meyo was also on the board.
“His death is a tremendous loss,” Arshinkoff said. “Ray was a great guy and a good friend.”
He noted that Mr. Meyo was the first person appointed as a university trustee by former Gov. George Voinovich. “I was the second,” he said.
Mr. Meyo was a self-made person who rose to head Telxon, Arshinkoff said.
According to the study by Hawes, Mr. Meyo studied medieval history at Notre Dame and graduated at age 19. He went on to get a law degree three years later from Case Western Reserve University.
He sold cars to work his way through law school, Hawes wrote. And that was where Mr. Meyo developed a love for the sales profession. He went to work selling mainframe computers for NCR and eventually ended up at System Marketing Corp., which sold products to small computer maker Electronics Laboratories Inc. Electronics Laboratories in 1974 changed its name to Telxon. (The name is an acronym for “telecommunications transmitting data and sign-on, sign-off.”) In 1978, Telxon asked Meyerson and Mr. Meyo to take it over; they did and moved the company to Fairlawn. Mr. Meyo was named president in 1981 and in 1985 was promoted to chief executive officer.
By 1991, Telxon had Wal-Mart as a customer and had delivered its one millionth computer.
But a year later, after Mr. Meyo said Telxon sales should hit $1 billion by 1998, the stock price plunged over poor earnings. Mr. Meyo, then 50, resigned as chief executive officer.
Resignation ‘a hit to pride’
Telxon moved from Fairlawn to Cincinnati in 1999. That same year, Cisco purchased Telxon’s Aeronet division. In 2000, shareholders agreed to sell Telxon for $465 million to rival Symbol Technologies. Symbol in 2007 became a subsidiary of Motorola.
Mr. Meyo and his family decided to stay in Northeast Ohio.
“You’re not talking to someone without faults,” Mr. Meyo said in a 1992 interview with the Akron Beacon Journal. He called the resignation from Telxon “a hit to [my] pride.”
Mr. Meyo noted the hardships he had faced in life up to that point and how he overcame them.
“This is not the hand that I wanted fate to deal me,” he said. “But now that I’ve been dealt them, I’m going to play them. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.”
He was co-recipient of the Dively Entrepreneurship Award in 1986. Old Trail School named its library in his honor. Fortune magazine listed him among the outstanding 1,000 American entrepreneurs.
At one time Mr. Meyo and his wife owned one of the most valuable homes in Summit County, a 14,000-square-foot, 26-room English country manor-style mansion on 2.8 acres in Bath appraised at $3.5 million in 2003.
In addition to being a University of Akron trustee, he was also a trustee at Notre Dame, Old Trail School and Gilmour Academy. He was a trustee of the Ohio Ballet and the Akron Art Museum. He was a member of the advisory council for the College of Engineering at Notre Dame. He was also a graduate of Lakewood St. Edward High School.
Mr. Meyo is survived by his wife, Marie; daughters Lisa Bricker and Nicole Meyo; son Joseph; brother Robert; a niece and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial was held Monday morning at St. Victor Church in Richfield.
The family asked that instead of flowers, contributions be made to the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind.; Old Trail School, Bath; or St. Edward High School.
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org.