Vincent Marotta Sr.
|Died||August 1, 2015 (aged 91)|
|Occupation||Businessman, investor, philanthropist|
|Known for||Developer of Mr. Coffee|
Co-founder of North American Systems
|Spouse(s)||Ann Marotta (m. 1954–2015)|
Timothy Marotta Sr.
Vincent Marotta Jr.
Vincent George Marotta Sr. (February 22, 1924 – August 1, 2015) was an American businessman, investor and philanthropist. He is best known for being the co-creator of Mr. Coffee, one of the first automatic drip coffee makers to be introduced to the American consumer market. Marotta, who conceived the idea for the Mr. Coffee machine, developed it with his business partner, Samuel Glazer, to replace the slower, more challenging percolator for use in homes. Marotta and Glazer began marketing Mr. Coffee in 1972. Marotta, who was responsible for much of the company's marketing as chairman and CEO, recruited Joe DiMaggio to appear in a series of Mr. Coffee television commercials. By 1979, just seven years after its consumer launch, sales of Mr. Coffee accounted for 50% of the U.S. consumer coffee maker with sales of $150 million.
Marotta was born Vincent George Marotta in Cleveland, Ohio, on February 22, 1924, to Italian immigrant parents, Calogero "Charles" Marotta, a coal dealer, and the former Josephine Mirabella. Marotta was born on February 22, the birthday of George Washington, so his parents chose George as his middle name.
Marotta, an athlete, completed high school. In 1942, Marotta was signed as center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. However, Marotta enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II just before spring training and never played professionally for the Cardinals. He served in a domestic capacity during the war. He completed his bachelor's degree in history at Mount Union College, now called the University of Mount Union, in Alliance, Ohio. H
He returned to professional athletics in 1948, when he was drafted by both the Cleveland Browns of the now defunct All-America Football Conference and the New York Giants of the National Football League. He decided to play for the Cleveland Browns as a running back. Marotta retired in 1951.
He left the Browns after a short period. Marotta soon partnered with a friend, Samuel Glazer, a housing and mall developer, whom Marotta had known since high school. Glazer and Marotta had established North American Systems, with Marotta serving as the company's chairman and CEO from creation until the partners sold the company in 1987.
However, a credit crunch in 1968 made real estate financing much more difficult to obtain, which hurt Glazer's and Marotta's business. Marotta pondered an alternative business to real estate due to the credit squeeze of 1968. His thoughts turned to a new, potential household coffee maker. During the late 1960s, the coffee percolator, a mainstays in American homes, the commercially available consumer alternative to instant coffee. Many drinkers disliked the coffee brewed by the common household percolator. A percolator reuses the same water and coffee grounds over and over, resulting in a bitter taste as some grounds are used three or four times. Marotta and his partner sought to replicate a replacement coffeemaker, based on the drip coffee makers utilized in restaurants and other commercial establishments, but not available to consumers. His wife, Ann Marotta, who also disliked the coffee available at the time, became an inspiration for Marotta's new business plan as well, according to their daughter, Susan Parente.
Marotta created the prototype for his drip coffee machine, which would come to by called Mr. Coffee. He spent approximately three years " "searching for 'a mechanical means of controlling the time and temperature of the water' in a coffeemaker," according to his October 1979 interview with Forbes magazine. He compared his work with that of Michelangelo.
Glazer and Marotta hired two former Westinghouse engineers, Edmund Abel and Erwin Schulze, to design a drip coffee machine for household use. Abel and Schultze designed a machine with filtered water, heated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, through coffee grounds scooped into a paper coffee filter. The coffee is then dispensed into a glass carafe.
Marotta and Glazer manufactured their Mr. Coffee machine under their company, North American Systems. North American Systems debuted Mr. Coffee in the U.S. consumer market in 1972. The maker was priced at $39.99, equal to $226 in 2015 dollars, but the machine proved a hit with consumers. To market the product, Marotta recruited baseball player Joe DiMaggio as Mr. Coffee's spokesman. DiMaggio's commercials were popular, though, in reality, DiMaggio rarely drank coffee due to ulcers.
North American System sold more than a million Mr. Coffee machines by 1975. Total sales reached $50 million by 1979, with Mr. Coffee machines accounting for 50% of the U.S. consumer coffee maker during that same year. Glazer and Marotta headed North American System, Mr. Coffee's parent company, until 1987, when North American Systems was acquired by a securities firm in a leveraged buyout worth $82 million.
Marotta concentrated on philanthropic pursuits and real estate investing during his later life. In addition to his home in Ohio, Marotta and his wife resided at homes in Frenchman’s Creek in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and the Bear's Club in Jupiter, Florida, for more than 20 years.
Samuel Glazer, his business partner and the co-developer of Mr. Coffee, died in March 2012.
Vincent Marotta died at his home in Pepper Pike, Ohio, on August 1, 2015, at the age of 91. He was survived by his wife, Ann Laughlin, whom he had married in 1954, and his six children: Mary Marotta, Jane Marotta, Susan Parente, Charles Marotta, Timothy Marotta Sr., and Vincent Marotta Jr.
- Fox, Margalit (August 3, 2015). "Vincent Marotta Sr., a Creator of Mr. Coffee, Dies at 91". New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- Gillespie, Mark (August 3, 2015). "Vincent Marotta 1924-2015: Mr. Coffee co-founder revolutionized Americans' morning brew". Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- Kaplan, Sarah (August 4, 2015). "Mr. Coffee creator Vincent Marotta Sr., who revolutionized the way we caffeinate, dies at 91". Washington Post. Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- "Mr. Coffee and Joltin' Joe DiMaggio". National Public Radio. October 29, 2005. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
- DiPaolo, Bill (August 5, 2015). "Inventor of Mr. Coffee machine and Jupiter resident dies at 91". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- O'Connor, Clare (August 4, 2015). "Vincent Marotta, Mr. Coffee Mogul, Dead At 91". Forbes. Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- Hevesi, Dennis (March 21, 2012). "Samuel Glazer Dies at 89; Popularized Drip Coffee". New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2015.