The phrase “an industry giant” is often misused or incorrectly applied, but in the case of Susan Taylor, it fits perfectly.
Susan had developed an international reputation for her pioneering work in marketing research, having founded Taylor Research in San Diego, California in 1956. From humble beginnings working at her kitchen table, she went on to helping introduce everything from dog food and diapers, automobiles and medications, or any product awaiting an unofficial consumer seal of approval before entering the marketplace. Products such as aerosol deodorant and Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts made it big. But a chew-able mouthwash couldn’t survive a humorous taste test. When Susan took it home for her children to try, they gave it their own name–“Fight Back”–and an emphatic thumbs down. “It was like chewing on rubber,” recalled one of her sons.
Under Susan’s capable and energetic leadership, Taylor Research was among the first market research firms nationally to utilize focus groups in the 1970’s. The company quickly gained a national reputation for testing and evaluating the products and services of some of America’s leading companies, such as Anheuser-Busch, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, and countless others. These companies would come to Taylor Research for their market research needs because they knew they could count on Susan and her team to provide the finest in facilities, staff, services, technology, and respondent recruiting. Susan was one of the original members of GroupNet, the largest network of independent market research focus group facilities.
Susan nurtured and grew her company into a dynamic organization of up to 100 part-time employees and full-time staff of 12 in the company’s 12,000 square foot facility. But beyond her great success as a business woman and community leader, Susan Taylor will be forever remembered by those who knew her as someone whose first priority was caring for the people fortunate enough to have entered her sphere of influence.
Susan’s great success was due in large part to her passion for her organization, her staff and clients. “She was our mentor and cheerleader,” said everyone on the Taylor Research team. “When someone would ask her why she didn’t retire, she would say, ‘Don’t ask a poet to stop writing or an artist to stop painting. This was and is my creation and the people make it fun.’” Perhaps one of the most telling indications of the high regard in which Susan was held was the response of even her business competitors. “Susan was one of those few kind souls that some of us are fortunate enough to meet in our lifetimes. She was a pioneer of woman-owned businesses in San Diego,” said Michael Casinelli, president of Marketing Information Masters. Nancy Levine of Nancy Levine Marketing Research said, “She was the most admired, dearest, most loving person. Never a negative word uttered and surely not ever a negative thought could have come from her. She was a leader in humanity and will be forever missed.”
Throughout her distinguished career, Susan Taylor received many prestigious awards. Just a few of them include: 1978-1980 Small Business Women Owners Association Recognition & Dedication Service Award; 1987-1988 Market Research Association Outstanding Service Award; 1994 Market Research Association Chapter Award, Southern California Chapter; 1998 Market Research Association President’s Award; 2000 Market Research Association Southern California Chapter Special Recognition Award; 2001 Small Business Administration Women-Owned Business of the Year.
As was so typical of Susan’s thoughtfulness, years ago she began limiting her own participation in the company and preparing her fully capable team to carry the company forward in the future. This ensured that there would be no disruption of service to her clients in the event she could no longer be there with them. After being diagnosed in January of 2005, Susan began undergoing treatment for leukemia and sadly passed away on May 12th of that year.
Susan Taylor was a truly remarkable woman. As selflessly and generously as she always gave of herself, so will she always be remembered and loved.
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