Jay Steel, owner of Taylor Engines in Whittier, CA, and winner of the 2003 Engine Builder Machine Shop of the Year award, has died after a 13-month battle with cancer. He was 63.
He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Barbara.
“He never missed a day of work,” said Barbara Steel. “He was at work the day before he died.”
Steel was born June 16, 1945 in Whittier, CA. He graduated in 1963 from California High School in Whittier and from Fullerton Community College in 1966. He then graduated with honors with a masters degree in history from Cal State Long Beach in 1969.
Steel bought Taylor Engine from its founder, Johnny Ryan, in 1971. The shop built an international reputation as a leader in antique and restoration work, with a client base that included Red Skelton and Jay Leno. However he was involved in cutting edge technical work as well, never afraid to try something new.
When he was named the Machine Shop of the Year, Steel said he hoped to inspire other shop owners to look for opportunities within and outside their business comfort zone. "One of the most important things I remind other shop owners is that regardless of the type of engine, you need to be willing to do the work and have the ability to use the equipment in your shop," Steel said. "As a small machine shop operator, you can’t be afraid to try something new. Look at your competitors and suppliers for tips and techniques that you can copy.”
Memorial donations can be made in Steel’s name to the National Foundation for Cancer Research, www.nfcr.org.