The Nevamar Corp. is an institution in Odenton. June Seymour Taylor, switchboard operator for 39 1/2 of the company's 50 years, is an institution at Nevamar.
Ms. Taylor is "The voice of Nevamar," as the huge billboard
outside the company's Telegraph Road building attests.
On Dec. 29, 1952, she began her first day's work in the plastics manufacturing plant's purchasing office. Eight months later, acting on tips she heard through the company grapevine, she asked for a transfer to one of the empty positions on the switchboard.
Surviving a two-week trial period, she finally stepped down Friday, after 3 1/2 decades of answering and directing calls, greeting visitors and remembering names and faces.
"No one said anything after the two weeks, so I just stayed at the switchboard, did my job and rolled with the changes," said Ms. Taylor, 65, with a warm voice that exudes her desire to help.
And there were changes. Nevamar began as the National Plastic Product Co., a family-owned business, in the early 1940's. In 1964, it became a division of Exxon. It reverted to private ownership in 1978. Two years ago, Nevamar became part of International Paper.
Ms. Taylor survived it all. How to explain her staying power?
"I was satisfied with my job and I guess they were too," said the Linthicum resident, who was born and raised in Ferndale.
Jan Adkins, a spokeswoman for Nevamar, confirmed Ms. Taylor's assessment.
"She had a key job. She was the first image of the company to external people, and she was a terrific image. Ms. Taylor had a lovely disposition and a pleasant voice and attitude. She'd been here almost since the beginning, and she represented the company well."
Ms. Adkins also admired Ms. Taylor's "uncanny ability to recognize voices and remember people in a very personal way."
Ms. Taylor dates her affinity for the public back to when she tended bar in her family's restaurant, Seymour's Inn, in Ferndale.
Regardless of her love for her job, Ms. Taylor decided not to wait until December to retire, just missing out on 40 years of service.
"I like talking to people and meeting with them. It's my cup of tea, but I'm a summer person. I'm into the river and boating, crabbing and fishing. I can't do any of that in December.
"I hate to say goodbye. It has been part of my daily life," she said. "But I plan on taking life easy. I'm throwing away the alarm clock and living without schedules."