A Heritage Built on the American Dream
Alex Manoogian, Masco’s founder, son of a prosperous Armenian grain wholesaler, was born in Smyrna, Turkey in 1901. He grew up in a family that placed great emphasis on education and enterprise. In his youth, he mastered five languages, developed a lifelong curiosity of the world around him and exhibited a drive to excel. At the age of 19, he came to the United States to escape a life of persecution in Turkey. He arrived at Ellis Island with only two suitcases and $50 in cash, but with unbounded enthusiasm and a formal education for that time.
Like so many millions of other immigrants who had left the Old World for the promise of the new, he carried within himself an iron resolve to bring his family to the United States.
The desire to own his own business, and be financially secure in order to bring his family to the United States, took hold and grew strongly during his early years. Five years after arriving in Detroit, he and his two partners bought a couple of used machines, repaired them and began making machined parts for the auto industry – the beginning of Masco.
In 1934, Mr. Manoogian’s partners left the Company, and he alone was responsible for its well-being. He was the Chairman, CEO, press operator, estimator, sales manager and foreman and his commitment to quality assured Masco’s early survival and eventual prosperity.
Prosperity turned into dramatic growth in the late 1950s as a result of a seemingly simple, but revolutionary faucet. In the early 1950s, an inventor brought Mr. Manoogian what, at the time, was considered an oddity: a single-handle faucet. The invention featured a ball valve that combined volume control with the mixing of hot and cold water. Though the inventor’s design leaked, it was easy to operate and repair. Mr. Manoogian, however, saw the bigger idea behind it and bought the inventor’s rights. He improved the design, and in 1954 he patented and brought to market the first successful washerless ball valve faucet -- the Delta faucet -- named for the faucet cam shaped like the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet. The phenomenal response to this plumbing innovation generated the funds necessary for Masco to expand both internally and externally.
One of his proudest moments was in 1978 when he was asked to be the keynote speaker at the dedication of the restoration of Ellis Island. He had certainly come full circle. Having been one of the 16 million immigrants who passed through Ellis Island before it was closed in 1932; he was now, fifty-eight years later, the Guest of Honor and Principal Speaker.
During his lifetime, Mr. Manoogian received numerous recognitions for his international philanthropy. While his life is certainly a classical immigrant success story, his true legacy is the tens of millions of dollars he donated to cultural organizations, hospitals, museums, libraries, universities, schools and charities of the Armenian Diaspora, to preserve and continue their culture.
Alex Manoogian was President, Chairman or Chairman Emeritus of Masco Corporation for 67 years. Without a doubt, the foundation for Masco’s financial strength and vibrancy is the philosophy that our founder, Alex Manoogian, instilled early into every aspect of our operations.
“Do not be satisfied with average performance. Strive for excellence. If you cannot give your customers a better value and a better product, do not sell the product.”