About The Author...Laurence D. Simon
Working at the trade started in 1947 when after school, five days a week and weekends he worked in the shop first embossing name cards for apartment mailboxes and directories. He also assisted at the counter duplicating keys and changing lock combinations. Around 1949 he moved into the door closer shop and learned how to repair and rebuild door and floor closers. And when not busy, you found him still waiting on the counter, repairing automobile locks and washing the store windows. 1951 found him attending a local college, working after school and running service for lockouts, combination changes and auxiliary lock and door closer installations. This continued until 1955 with schooling completed, full time employment involved with all phases of the trade. September he was called to active duty in the United States Army, sent to Heidelberg, Germany and assigned to Army Intelligence. He returned to the business late 1957 but was still in the active reserves for four more years.
In 1959 he was sent on service calls by my several major Architects and General Contractors to solve problems that the Architectural Hardware Distributor could not do. After the problems were quickly taken care of, he was asked by several of the largest Architectural firms along with major construction company's, "can you supply Architectural Hardware from scratch?" Thinking to himself, "if those firms couldn't service the jobs they sold, I can't do anything worse" and said "yes." The next thing I knew I was in the Architectural Hardware world with hundreds of thousands of dollars of business given to me with no bid! A phone call from Arnold Morton (personal friend of the family and owner of Morton's of Chicago Restaurants) and the Executive Vice President of Playboy International called me in to service the first Playboy Club. He was in charge of setting up Playboy Clubs all over the world. It was Laurie who came up with the idea and created and the Playboy Key. (He has mounted in velvet in on the wall in his living room, Playboy Key # 1. Every Playboy Club in the world except Lake Geneva was furnished and serviced by him.
From that time until 1963, there were major problems between the manufacturers and S&S because of the policies of selling Architectural Hardware to Locksmiths and Locksmith Suppliers. There was a conflict of interest, and Laurie departed from the family business and established the Superior Hardware Corporation.
For the next seven years, 87%* of all the high rise buildings in Chicago were supplied by Superior Hardware along with several high rise downtown office buildings, hospitals and schools.
One Of Many High Rise Buildings Built Between
1959 and 1971 With Hardware By Laurie Simon
Lake Point Tower, Chicago, Illinois
70 Storey Apartment Complex
In 1967 they rented a building downtown Chicago was one of the seven that survived the 1871 Chicago Fire. It was 22 feet wide and 350 feet long. Ambition motivated them to open one of the first Decorative Hardware Stores in Chicago - 25 years ahead of itself.
By 1970 he bit off more than he could handle. The business was sold to Atlantic Hardware of New York and later moved to Long Island, New York. He returned to the family business until it was sold to it's employees in 1976.
THE LOCK HARDWARE CROSS REFERENCE
After relocating in Dallas, Texas and starting a Manufacturers Representation operation, he received a phone call from Saudi Arabia asking him about Yale Locks. He explained to the individual that for the first time in almost 100 years, the Simon family was no longer affiliated with Yale. The individual stated he knew - and knew who he was representing. He also stated, "he called Yale, they told him to call me because no one in the office knew as much about Yale as he did." "OK he said, it's your quarter." (public phones were 25 cents at that time) I resolved his problem, Yale did manufacture it and that was the end of that incident until his wife said, "why don't people leave you alone so you can do your thing to earn money." Then she said, "why don't you put it in writing and sell it."
Motivated by an almost daily barrage of requests for technical information from Distributors, Locksmiths, Architects, Designers and Manufacturers worldwide, he assembled the Lock Hardware Cross Reference program. There is close to 40,000 data records including product from over 88 manufacturers. Originally published in book form, in 1995 the printed version weighed in at 8 pounds, therefore it had to be converted into a data base for computerized retrieval. As a guide, the data is based on minimum ANSI standards and includes the old Government numbers for reference. Facts are based on manufacturers standards and his own expertise.
Over these many years, Laurie has been active in various associations and has
frequently been called upon to give lectures and programs covering product knowledge, history stories and experiences in the Lock Hardware field. A dream came true with the latest method of communication, the Internet.
Viewers world wide will now be able to see what it was like in the late 19th and
20th centuries. What Laurie prides himself in is the ability to present all this
material and put fun into the reading.
Laurie now resides in Grayslake, Illinois after his wife Helen passed away in June of 2013. She had suffered a major stroke and their children & family wanted them back to Chicagoland. The Company no longer exists as it was and it is Laurie's intention to spend the rest of his life working on both the Website and sharing his 68 years of knowledge with both the Locksmiths and Architecturall Hardware Consultants. Their firm was quite diversified, serving as manufacturers’ representatives, marketing, advertising and technical consultants. Helen's accounting practice also assisted both her clients and H&L SIMON’s clients in accounting procedures, tax and general business advice.