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In Sports

Turer got his start working for Ben Barkin and the Great Circus Parade.

In Sports

Turer greets fans at the Admirals' season opener.

In Sports

"We want you to come and say 'Hey, that was really fun.'"

Milwaukee Talks: Admirals owner Harris Turer


In an age when many pro sports owners covet headlines and court publicity, Harris Turer keeps a low profile. For the Admirals owner, who is also the No. 2 shareholder of the Brewers, modesty is a family trait.

Turer's grandfather, Harry Soref, founded Master Lock in the early 1920s. Although the company was a global success, Soref and his legacy are somewhat overshadowed by the beer barons and other industry captains in Milwaukee.

After purchasing the Admirals in June of 2005, Turer hopes to make a name for himself. He spoke to OnMilwaukee.com about his team, his family, his philosophy and his philanthropic efforts.

Enjoy this Milwaukee Talks interview with Admirals owner Harris Turer.

OnMilwaukee.com: Tell me about your grandfather.

Harris Turer: I never met him. He died of heart disease (in 1957). What I've heard and read about him, he was not a college-educated man. He was an inventor, though, and a creative guy.

He worked in the circus for a number of years and that's where he met Harry Houdini, the magician. My grandfather would work with him hiding keys to pick the locks. They were close. They basically grew up in the circus together.

OMC: What else do you know about him?

HT: My grandfather liked to play cards. After he started Master Lock, he'd go to Las Vegas -- before it was Vegas -- and played with guys like Bugsy Siegel and the people who basically founded the city as we know it today. They tried to get him to invest with them, but he didn't do it. He didn't want to get involved with people who might be trouble. The investment would have been a very big deal, but it was probably the smart thing for him.

He loved to play cards so much. His story was - if you take one card, it's easy to tear. If you look at a deck of cards, like a phone book, it's hard to tear. That's kind of where he got the idea for a padlock that is layer upon layer of steel.

OMC: What do you know about him as a businessman?

HT: The thing that stands out to me is the incredible relationship he had with his employees. You think today about management versus the union and most of the time, it's bitter. Sometimes, it's decent and they get along. But, it's not close. It's like, "They're there. We're here." That's not the way it was with my grandfather. He had an incredible relationship with his employees. That's part of the reason the company was so successful. He cared dearly about them and they cared about him. He'd have employee picnics and he'd give them gifts. He just really cared about them. That's how I try to treat my employees. We have an incredible staff here. They are so dedicated and they work so hard. Without them, I'm not going to be successful and this organization will never be successful. I wish I'd had a chance to talk to him about that relationship, but that's one of the things that I took from reading about him.

OMC: When people think about successful business in Milwaukee, they think of Miller and Schlitz and Allen-Bradley and Harley-Davidson, but they don't usually mention Harry Soref and Master Lock.

HT: For whatever reason, my grandfather is not really well known. It sort of bothers me in some ways. This guy created a company -- when you say 'lock' and you say 'Master Lock,' it's almost like Coke. It's a worldwide company. My dad tried to explain it to me when I was a kid, just how big it was. He said "Harris think of your school and all the lockers in the hallway. They all have Master Locks. That's what I would do. I would sell locks to every school."

OMC: So your father worked there, too?

HT: My dad was a salesman there for a few years. He married my mom and didn't work there right away. I guess my uncles wanted to make sure that he was trustworthy. He was a good salesman. He worked for the motion picture industry, selling movies to movie houses. Then, he worked at Master Lock as a salesman and did really well. There really wasn't a lot of competition back then and the company was huge, but you're right that (Soref) is really not well-known.

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Talkbacks

OMCreader | Nov. 5, 2006 at 8:46 p.m. (report)

anti-logo hater said: i wish i had nothing else to do in life but sit back and complain about the admirals logo...

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OMCreader | Nov. 2, 2006 at 1:37 p.m. (report)

logo hater said: I love the team and the owner. But that logo has to go. It's awefull.

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OMCreader | Nov. 2, 2006 at 1:20 p.m. (report)

Panther said: as a huge UWM bball fan i for one would like to thank Harris for all he's done for the program. it's great to have such a wonderful person behind out team.

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OMCreader | Nov. 2, 2006 at 1:19 p.m. (report)

Panther said: as a huge UWM bball fan i for one would like to thank Harris for all he's done for the program. it's great to have such a wonderful person behind out team.

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OMCreader | Nov. 2, 2006 at 9:50 a.m. (report)

restauranteur said: I have gotten to know Harris over the past year and have to say he is a great guy. Milwaukee truly needs people like him!

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