Pace History

Charles “Chuck”€ť Levy, Jr. (July 1913 - August 1985) founder of  Pace Products, Inc., an American innovator, a pioneer in the paint and  coatings industry and a highly successful businessman.


Born in Youngstown, OH. Chuck grew up in Middletown, Dayton and  Cleveland, OH. It was here in his early childhood that he had his first  inkling that perhaps he was a little different than other children. His  mother Cecil noticed that his speech was stuttering and she would  caution to “think before you talked” which modern speech therapy says is exactly the wrong way to correct such a defect. As a five year old in  Kindergarten he went a frightened, unsure little boy who in addition to  speech problems also soon revealed a perfectionist complex. Young Chuck  would panic if he were not the first to complete a school project. While Chuck’s stuttering had been a heavy cross for him in Middletown (he  used to pray he wouldn’t be called on in the 5th and 6th grade in  Dayton) Chuck lost some of his self-consciousness and became better  adjusted. This was just one of many obstacles in life Chuck Levy would  overcome with great success.

When Chuck started the 7th grade, his family - mother, father and his sister Jane moved to Cleveland, Oh. It was here that Chuck began his  business career. The city fathers decided to build a swimming pool in  the neighborhood. Between his 7th and 8th grade years, construction  began and Chuck and Jane got an idea they could make money-selling  lemonade to the workers. And buy they did. Business continued well all  summer until the pool was finished and they earned in that summer of  1927 all of $80.00 which was a nice stipend. In addition, Chuck served  as the water boy for the construction company during the last month when their regular boy quit. Chuck’s salary was $6.00 a week working 5 ˝  days a week.
While the Depression did not start until after the stock market crash of 1928, it really began for the Levy family much earlier. From the time  the Levys' left Dayton, Chuck’s family struggled. Because money was so  scarce, Chuck and Jane soon learned they would have to make it on their  own. One job they had was delivering a red tag that had a cutout so they could hang the advertising piece on the doorknob. They had a long and  busy route that took them three hours to cover, sometimes longer if they encountered any angry dogs along the way. Hard work and long hours were things that Chuck knew he would have to endure to be successful.

At the heart of the Depression, Chuck was in college. Fortunately, he  was resourceful and instead of complaining he was able to always find a  way to make extra money. One of his ventures was selling advertising and peddling a small comic magazine called Smiles one of his high school  buddies started. After that, a family friend found Chuck a job as a  stockroom boy at American Asbestos Products Co. where he was to enter a  business that would be his lifetime occupation and career. It was an  inauspicious beginning but in retrospect, he appreciated the fates that  introduced him to the paint and roof coating business. While working  half days at American Asbestos Products he also enjoyed several other  money making ventures including selling the campus magazine the Red Cat, a used book business, a typing agency and being an assistant to his  history professor. By the time he was a senior, he made $75.00 a month  making more than most full time employed workers.
In 1936, as the country began to emerge from the Great Depression, Chuck graduated from college and achieved a scholastic goal by being elected  to the honorary Phi Beta Kappa Society. Graduation day was an eventful,  happy time for the Levy family and one of great achievement and triumph  for Chuck who worked his way through school and partially supported his  family at the same time.

During these years, Chuck moved along a steady if not spectacular course at American Asbestos Company. Growing increasingly unhappy and  impatient with American, he and two fellow employees began to plot a  breakaway and the start of their own company. Chuck had saved about  $2,000.00 so starting a new company sounded exciting and quite logical.  It seemed his course was planned for him to be a partner in a company  where he could make young dreams come true, but it was not meant to be  right away. Chuck joined Warren Refining and Chemical Company as Eastern Sales Manager and Promotion Manager along with one of his fellow  employees at American who also made the move.

Ten months after joining Warren, Chuck was drafted into the Army and was stationed at Camp Stewart, Ga. along with 200,000 other GIs where he  was assigned to Headquarter Battery. The first few weeks of basic  training were hard on both his spirit and his body. Coming from an  office job it was a shock to find himself depending on muscles he hadn’t used since his teenage years but he hung in there. From Camp Stewart to Boston, Chuck boarded the ship the John Ericcson destined for  Liverpool, England. In those days the voyage took 14 days. On the ship  he started the SEA DOG, a mimeographed newspaper which he wrote and  printed once each day for the 5,500 soldiers on the Ericcson. For the  GIs it proved to be a welcome tonic to break up endless monotony and for Chuck, it was an ego builder and a practical means of spending his  time.
Once in England the 789th Battalion went from Ipswich, to Southhampton  to France, then to a town in Belgium called Keerbergen. Here Chuck was  assigned to shoot down Germany’s Buzz Bombs. Later, as a Corporal in  charge of a crew of three Privates, he was assigned to duty on an  Observation Post. For 10 months, rarely staying in one place for very  long, it was their job to man the radio sending set and for 24 hours a  day, warn fellow soldiers about the German’s Buzz Bombs. After the war  and still in Belgium Chuck’s creativity got him working on several  projects that kept him busy and free from boredom. He organized a  Battalion band and also began the humorous history of his Battalion,  which eventually got published. While these and many other good deeds  Chuck did while awaiting to return home were not recognized by the  military, it gave him great satisfaction.

Chuck’s career picked up where it left off, back in the coatings  business. When Colonial Refining and Chemical, a company he started with after the war decided at Chuck’s urging to open a plant in Kansas City, he made the move in April of 1956 as General Sales Manager of the  company's western division. As his Kansas City operation became more and more successful, his relations with Colonial worsened. At the same  time, Chuck yearned for independence, to start his own business and felt a deep sense of satisfaction by being able to offer others the  opportunity to go in to business for themselves by way of a distributor  program which he felt confident would be successful.
Chuck left Colonial and started Pace Products, Inc. on March 3, 1958.  Once he committed to the idea, he poured the same energy, resources and  innovative thinking into what made him successful in everything he did  up to that point. Chuck hired Richard “Dick” Rogers, who was working for General Motors as a Sales Manager, to help make his dream come true -  to build a successful company in the maintenance products field.
They rented space in an old, abandoned ice house on the fringe of  downtown Kansas City. Business was terrible. So bad that their first  year they lost $28,000 and their second year, while a big improvement  saw them lose another $8,000. It was their 3rd year before they showed a profit. What most people admire about these two individuals is their  humility. They never forgot where they came from. Nor did they take  success for granted.

From the beginning in 1958 innovation became a way of Pace’s business  life. The first bold move into a brand new field was siliconzied based  Park-King blacktop sealer, a formula manufactured on a Gilsonite base.  It was Pace’s first million dollar baby, moving in five short years to  the million gallon mark in volume. Today, there is not single firm in  our kind of business that does not sell a sealer for blacktops. But Pace was first!

Pace was the first to see the potential in a roof coating that could  be used on a wet roof surface so repairs could be made at the time of  leakage before damage occurred. With limited resources, they persevered  and the result was Wet-Jet, also the first to use fiberglass instead of  asbestos, which revolutionized thinking in the roof coating industry.
Another breakthrough to have even greater impact - Chuck and Dick’s  concept of a ONE-COAT line. Prior to Pace’s ONE-COATER breakthrough, it  was customary to sell a customer primers to build up the surface before  the application of roof coatings, sometimes two and three coats. They  were able to build the primer into the coating through greater  penetration into the roof base. Once Chuck and Dick proved the ONE-COAT  theory sound for roof renewal, they carried the concept to the entire  Pace product line.
A privately held corporation, Pace continues to enjoy great success with a network of independent distributors. As a result of their efforts,  Pace’s specialized industrial line of coatings and sealers are being  used around the world by thousands of building and property owners.
A privately held corporation, Pace continues to enjoy great success with a network of independent distributors. As a result of their efforts,  Pace’s specialized industrial line of coatings and sealers are being  used around the world by thousands of building and property owners.



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