MAROTTA, VINCENT G.  (22 Feb. 1924-1 Aug. 2015) was an entrepreneur best known for developing the Mr. Coffee home-brewing coffee maker. The son of Italian immigrants to Cleveland, Marotta became a standout athlete at SHAKER HEIGHTS High School. Following his graduation, he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals as an outfielder for their Allentown farm team, but with the outbreak of World War II Marotta left to serve in the Army. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Mount Union College in Alliance, OH, before being drafted in 1948 by the New York Giants and the CLEVELAND BROWNS, for which he played halfback for a short time.

In 1949 he borrowed $500 from his father and went into the construction business with Samuel L. Glazer, a friend from high school. The duo, doing business as Glazer-Marotta Co. from 1949-68, built about 5,000 houses in the SUBURBS of Cleveland and Akron before turning to shopping center development. The company’s first major venture involved the construction of 1,500 houses in Brunswick Twp. in Medina County. From the late 1950s to the mid-1960s, Glazer-Marotta Co. developed and owned 8 shopping centers scattered across Northeast Ohio, including Great Lakes Mall in Mentor. The company also assembled the land and devised an initial plan for Richmond Mall in RICHMOND HTS. before quietly selling to Edward J. DeBartolo of Youngstown, who saw the project to fruition in 1966.

When the mortgage market tightened in the late 1960s, Marotta and Glazer began searching for ways to diversify and decided to try to develop a restaurant-style drip coffee maker for home use. In 1970 they founded NORTH AMERICAN SYSTEMS, INC., and by 1972 had secured a patent and launched production of the Mr. Coffee coffeemaker in a plant in BEACHWOOD, followed by a move to a larger facility in BEDFORD HTS. In 1973 Marotta persuaded Joe DiMaggio to do Mr. Coffee television commercials, which ran for 14 years and were instrumental in helping Marotta’s brainchild attain 50% the national market for coffeemakers by the end of the 1970s. In 1987, Marotta and Glazer sold North American Systems through a leveraged buyout. Mr. Coffee continued to be manufactured in Bedford Hts. and, later, in GLENWILLOW until 2000, when parent company Sunbeam shifted production to Mississippi and Mexico.

Marotta, who came to personify “Mr. Coffee,” was unable to find similar success parlaying his fortune into what he hoped might be a catalytic DOWNTOWN project in the late 1980s. Marotta’s plan envisioned a Hyatt Regency hotel as the centerpiece of a half-billion-dollar mixed-use complex in NORTH COAST HARBOR, but the combination of public subsidies he sought failed to materialize. However, he continued to own a number of shopping centers and also became increasingly engaged in philanthropic activities. Marotta was a 1975 recipient of a Horatio Alger award. Marotta married Ann Laughlin in 1954. They had three daughters, Susan, Mary, and Jane, and three sons, Charles, Timothy Sr., and Vincent Jr. Marotta, a part-time resident of Jupiter and Palm Beach Gardens, FL, died at his home in PEPPER PIKE and was buried in All Souls Cemetery in Chardon, OH.

Mark Souther

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