On July 10, 1996, Armenian-American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and industrial engineer Alexander “Alex” Manoogian passed away. Alex Manoogian has been the president of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), a humanitarian organization that promotes the Armenian identity and heritage. But Manoogian’s contribution to the AGBU isn’t the only reason he is remembered.
Manoogian, a native of Armenia, the one to bring the first successful washerless ball valve faucet to the market, died in the hospital of Saint John in Detroit at the age of 95.
The realization of the redesign of the old single-handled valve earned Alex Manoogian a fortune. He would then donate millions of dollars to religious, educational, cultural, and charity organizations and hospitals, many of which now serve the Armenian Diaspora in numerous countries in North and South America, Europe, Near East, and Australia.
Having established a small yet successful automotive workshop called Masco Screw Products Company in Detroit, Mr. Manoogian in 1950 received an offer to design a ball valve that would be able to release both hot and cold water with a turn of one handle. This request was addressed to Mr. Manoogian by two entrepreneurs who would share the patent of the faucet with him.
“They addressed me,” would recall Alex Manoogian, “I said: ‘Why wouldn’t people want to do something with one hand instead of two?’”
He signed a contract with the entrepreneurs and set up the faucet’s development in his workshop. Two years later, he had a faucet with a handle that could turn left and right to release hot and cold water. Aside from that, adjusting the height of the handle regulated the water flow. The faucet was watertight, strong, and had no any clamps that could wear out.
Even though Mr. Manoogian was intrigued by the idea of the one-handle faucet, he wasn’t very interest in selling them. However, when he learned from plumbing companies that there wasn’t an appropriate market for the device, he engaged in the sales himself.
In 1995, Masco Corporation headquartered in Detroit had $3 billion in sales from realizing plumbing produce, building supplies, kitchen cabinets, household appliances, locks, and many other products manufactured in 100 factories in 15 countries throughout the world.
Masco now sells their faucets under such brands as Delta, Peerless, Bristan, and several others. The modern lineup includes a variety of models from simple $80 chrome faucets to $1000 models made from precious metals. In 1995, the company had $698 million in faucet sales, 23% of its total sales volume. At the time, Masco had 38% of the US faucet market.
Having scarcely survived the Great Depression, Masco Corporation for the first time offered their stocks for investors at a price of $1 in 1936. One year later, the corporation’s stocks began to be sold at the stock exchange of Detroit. In 1969, Masco Corporation started selling their stocks at the New York Stock Exchange.
Alex Manoogian was one of the most renowned Armenians in the world. For 36 years, he has been the president of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, a worldwide humanitarian, cultural, and educational organization. In 1970, he was elected its lifelong president. And in 1989, Alex Manoogian was chosen the honorable lifelong president of the AGBU.
In countries such as Argentina, Australia, Canada, Iran, Israel, the Netherlands, and the United States, the institutions established on Mr. Manoogian’s funds were named in his honor, in honor of his late wife Marie Tatian who passed away in 1993 after over 60 years of marriage with Manoogian, as well as in honor of his parents. Alex Manoogian also donated the Manoogian Mansion situated in Detroit to the city of Detroit.
In 1990, Mr. Manoogian was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. In 1993, he was named a National Hero of Armenia and a citizen of the Republic of Armenia, becoming the first to be so honored outside Armenia.
Alex Manoogian was born in 1901 in Smyrna in the Ottoman Empire. In connection with the oppression of Armenians and the 1915 Armenian Genocide, he moved to the United States in 1920. His parents along with his two brothers and sisters would move to the US shortly as well.
Alex Manoogian first settled in the city of Bridgeport in the US state of Connecticut where he would work at a factory and teach the Armenian language on an evening course for adults. He moved to Detroit in 1920. In 1929, he would establish the Masco Screw Products company.
Alex Manoogian and Marie Tatian’s daughter succeeded him as the President of the Armenian General Benevolent Union. Their son Richard Manoogian presently is the central executive officer of the Masco Corporation.