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Rodney Smith, co-founder of Lesney Products, died July 20, 2013, at age 95. Telegraph obituary. 9/17/13
Leslie Smith and Rodney Smith (not related) were school friends. They met again while serving in the Royal Navy in the 1940's, and, in June 1947 after World War II, they took £600 in finances, combined their names ("Les" from the first half of Leslie and "ney" from the last half of Rodney) and formed "Lesney Products". Until the business grew to support them full time, Leslie was employed for several years by J. Raymond Wilson Company which confirmed overseas orders, doing the Lesney financial records in the evenings, and Rodney was employed by the engineering firm of Diecast and Machine Tools in London. Lesney purchased the Rifleman Tavern in Edmonton, England, and some used die casting equipment with a plan to make industrial pressure die cast products. John W. "Jack" Odell who was a recognized die cast expert also employed by Diecast and Machine Tools joined Lesney. Rodney had got to know Jack whilst at D.C.M.T. Jack was initially to run his own business from The Rifleman (his local council refused him permission to manufacture in his own premises) and contribute towards the £2 a week rent. He used his own machines to make industrial castings as well as molds for Lesney Products. Jack was quite successful and the 2 Smiths asked him to join them as a full partner. By 1948 Lesney consisted of 8 employees and 3 partners. See more …