The Proud Legacy & Bright Future of Willo Products Company
When Melvin Ozier founded Willo Products Company in 1945, he dreamed of a business that would stand the test of time.
Based in Decatur, Alabama, he took his skills as a draftsman and put them to use in the country’s booming steel industry. He had worked as a draftsman at Decatur Iron and Steel Company (DISCO), working on tanks and testing military ships in the nearby Tennessee River.
Together with business partner Bobby Wilson, the two founded a new company and used a combination of their last names as the company name – “Will” for Wilson and “O” for Ozier. After WWII ended, Willo expanded into the market for miscellaneous structural projects. When DISCO closed, the two quickly hired many of its engineers, and the newly expanded team entered the corrections equipment industry.
Willo’s first locking device rolled off the line in 1968. In the decades since, Willo’s mission has sharpened its focus towards a singular purpose – engineering products that increase safety and security in correctional facilities across the country.
But Melvin Ozier never lost sight of the thing he valued most – his family. His sons, Jack and Lynn, spent summers knocking down weeds growing between steel beams stacked behind the Willo manufacturing plant. After the boys went to college, Jack studying building science at Auburn and Lynn studying structural engineering at Vanderbilt and earning an MBA at Rice University, they returned home with the skills necessary to lead Willo into the company’s next era.
In the early 1970s, Jack and Lynn Ozier went to work as project managers. As they assumed more responsibility, they shifted the company’s focus fully to jail and prison equipment design. The brothers rose through the ranks, with Jack becoming Executive Vice President and Lynn serving as President.
Talking to Correctional News, Jack Ozier told the publication his philosophy, saying, “We’re always scanning the horizon for ways to make the old products better as well as for fresh ideas to design completely new and different products. We’re open to all possibilities.”
Under the leadership of the Ozier brothers, Willo’s locking devices and other detention products were installed in thousands of correctional facilities in the US, Puerto Rico, and other international sites.
While Jack and Lynn have since retired, Jack’s son, Jackson Ozier, followed in his father’s footsteps, beginning his career at Willo as an estimator and then serving as a project manager. Jackson now serves as the Vice President of Sales. Dave Wood, who has been with the company for more than 40 years, serves as Willo’s current President. And Brian Terry, with Willo for 29 years, supervises the engineering department as Vice President of Engineering.
Three generations later, Willo continues to look to the future. As the problems and needs in the correctional environment continue to change, both our old and new innovative products continue to solve the everchanging issues that arise. Safety and security will always be our mission.