Dick Tashima and Ted Lee, partners at A.G. Layne in 1986.

A Tribute To Our Grandfather Ted Lee Who Truly Believed “Service Is Our Business”

Recently, our mother, Joyce Lee, was going through some old records in her basement when she came across a special local news article from September 1988. It was written just a little over a year after I was born. She was thrilled to find it and sent Kyle and me a copy of the article. It brought huge smiles to our faces.

The Client of the Quarter article featured our grandfather, Ted Lee, and his A.G. Layne partner Dick Toshima. Ted loved A.G. Layne. He brought A.G. Layne into the Lee Family in 1977 and remained with it until about 1996 when his sons took over leadership.

His slogan was always “service is our business.” To him, it wasn’t just a phrase made for marketing. It was something in which he firmly believed. He had a special way of making you feel important no matter what you were talking about. If he only had enough time to spend a few moments with you, you still walked away feeling like you were heard.

I’ll never forget the time Kyle and I stopped by grandpa’s house to pick him up so he could visit some of our customers. We brought him to a toll manufacturing facility only a few miles away from his house. He was talking to the ladies at the front desk with his usual charm and swagger while selling our services to the ops personnel as if he were a young salesman again. He’d been retired for well over 20 years but that didn’t stop him from pushing the “Service Is Our Business” slogan from years’ past. At that moment, Kyle and I realized that sales and distribution are truly embedded in our DNA. The experience also showcased the fact that my grandfather was without a doubt a very extraordinary man.

Navigating manufacturing during a remarkable business environment

Our grandfather was in charge of A.G. Layne during a unique and interesting period in Southern California history. It was the Cold War and featured an era of big defense budgets, and large-scale aircraft manufacturing. It was also an era of innovation that brought forth the first personal computers and wireless technologies. Therefore, circuit board manufacturing was huge throughout the 1980’s and 90’s. These innovations were the beginning of globalization where imports from Asia were first making their appearance onto California shores. As a result, there were enormous amounts of manufacturing of all shapes and sizes happening all over the Southern California landscape.

The business landscape has evolved

To show that times have changed, our grandfather made a comment to Kyle and me that during his time, there was so much business within a ten minute radius of our Los Angeles location that he wouldn’t ever dream of sending a truck to make a delivery to Orange County or Santa Clarita. When we updated him on the territory expansion of A.G. Layne deliveries today, he was shocked to hear that we make deliveries to Las Vegas, Portland, Reno, San Diego, and San Francisco!
Ted Lee, an A.G. Layne legend, passed away at home in 2019. We’ll always look up to him for bringing A.G. Layne into the Lee Family and teaching us how to succeed.

—Mike Lee, President/CEO
—Kyle Lee, Vice President, Sales and Marketing