Hall S. Derkin, who cofounded a leading industrial distributor of rubber, fabric, and specialized products, died Monday in Kingston Residence of Sylvania, where he lived the last three years. He was 94.
Mr. Derkin, a longtime Sylvania Township resident, had Parkinson's disease and developed pneumonia.
He was former chairman of Derkin & Wise Inc. Starting in the late 1980s, he gradually turned over the reins to his sons Mark, who is president and chief executive, and Jim, who is vice president.
"The fact that Mark and Jim were successfully able to take the business forward meant everything to him," said his son Scott, a former vice president.
In the late 1950s, Mr. Derkin was a vice president of Bigelow-Gibson Inc., a distributor of rubber and industrial products, and Lee White was a salesman there when they decided to team up and strike out on their own.
Prospects were plentiful. Local glass companies, plus foundries, grain elevators, and the Port of Toledo used the products Derkin & Wise distributed -- hoses, belting, and eventually conveyor systems now found at glass plants around the world.
"Toledo was a booming area for that kind of thing back then," son Scott said.
Mr. Derkin and Mr. Wise set a goal of reaching $1 million in annual sales within a decade. Stockholders were told in 1969 that the firm achieved that goal the previous year. What contributed to that success, Mr. Derkin reported to stockholders, was the decision to fabricate products to meet a need. For instance, Mr. Derkin devised a system for Dundee Cement Co. that allowed cement to be loaded on or off barges in the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, son Scott said.
Also key was Mr. Derkin's sales skill. "He said, 'You know, son, you can never go wrong by taking care of your customers,' " son Scott said. "He genuinely liked customers and the trade. He would make instant connections with people. He was amazing that way."
Another ingredient was his mind set.
"My dad was a real optimist," son Mark said. "I always accused him of being relentlessly cheerful. He tended not to see the downside of anything. Plus he was a Christian believer, and he never felt that he could do anything without God's blessing. Once he felt it was OK with God, he felt he couldn't fail."
He was a founding member in 1960 of Bethany Baptist Church, now Bethany Community Fellowship. He held leadership posts, but his favorite duty was teaching the Old Testament, son Scott said.
He was born April 27, 1918, in Philadelphia to Edith Hall Derkin and James Ambrose Derkin. After high school, he attended a business school in Philadelphia, where he met Aurel Pole.
"Sparks flew instantly," son Scott said.
He was trying unsuccessfully to enlist in the military during World War II -- he was color blind -- but was drafted and served in the Army Air Corps as a cryptographer in the China-India-Burma Theater. He was a captain when he was discharged. Meanwhile, his soon-to-be wife joined the U.S. Marine Corps Women's Reserves. She served in San Diego.
After the war, he was a salesman for industrial distributors. He was transferred to Chicago, Detroit, and Toledo.
He and his wife married in January, 1945. She died in September, 2009.
Surviving are his sons, Hall Scott Derkin, Mark Stewart Derkin, and James Ambrose Derkin; 10 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
Visitation is to be Sunday from 4 to 8 p.m. in the Reeb Funeral Home, Sylvania. Services are to be Monday at 10 a.m. in Bethany Community Fellowship.
The family suggests tributes to Bethany Community Fellowship, Gideon's International, Missionary Training International, or Christian Service Brigade.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: email@example.com or 419-724-6182.