April 19, 2014

Elyria
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Businessman Julius Zajac dies at 91

Julius ZajacELYRIA – Raised in a poor Polish neighborhood in the Tremont section of Cleveland during the Great Depression, the value of education was instilled early in Julius Zajac.

Zajac, who died Wednesday at 91, capitalized on his education and marketing smarts to help found three companies, including one that merged with a company that eventually became Parker Hannifin Corp., a $13 billion machine parts company.

“They would not be there if it weren’t for Julius,” said Zajac’s brother, Theodore Zajac, 95.

Theodore Zajac said he and his brother, Ed Zajac, who died in 2010, got electrical engineering degrees. Julius Zajac worked his way through school and in 1950 graduated with a mechanical engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, one of the nation’s top engineering schools.

“We were convinced that unless we got a substantial education, we would never have anything,” Theodore Zajac said. “Our mother told us we had to get an education somehow or another.”

After working for cousins at the Cleveland-based Zalo Manufacturing Co., Julius and Theodore Zajac in 1958 founded Manatrol Inc., according to Zajac’s obituary. Manatrol, which made hydraulic and pneumatic valves designed by Theodore Zajac and marketed by Julius Zajac, moved from Cleveland to Elyria in 1963 and merged with the Perry Fay Manufacturing Co. Perry Fay in 1970 was sold to what is now Parker Hannifin.

The brothers then founded what is now Vectron Deburring, 201 Perry Court. Burrs are unwanted material on machined or cast parts created in the manufacturing process. In 1980, they founded Zaytran Automation, 41535 Schadden Road.

James Zajac, Julius Zajac’s son, said his uncle was the inventor while his father’s job was marketing. Zajac said the brothers worked “hand in glove.”

Julius Zajac married in 1957 – Jean Zajac, his wife, died in 1992 – and was the father of two. Julius and Jean Zajac played bridge tournaments together and Julius Zajac also liked to golf and swim in his spare time. James Zajac, of East Hampton, N.Y., said his father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2009 and it had gotten worse since.

James Zajac said his extroverted father always had time for his family and was proud of his Polish heritage and his modest beginnings.

“In many ways, he was a self-made man,” James Zajac said. “Healthy, wealthy and wise by his own doing.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com