Burton D. Morgan
In Memory of Burton Davis Morgan (1916 – 2003),
who passed a decade ago but whose legacy lives on
Burton D. Morgan was always thinking, problem solving, and inventing – never would he accept “no” as an answer. And failures were only opportunities for future successes.
Burton D. Morgan was no ordinary man: he was a driven serial entrepreneur who started 50 companies, six of which have become major corporations, including Morgan Adhesives, one of the world’s largest makers of pressure-sensitive adhesives. But Mr. Morgan was not only known for his business acumen, he is also remembered for his dedication to philanthropy.
Mr. Morgan was born in New York City in 1916, and he grew up in Evanston, Illinois where his father taught psychology at the nearby Northwestern University. As a boy, he and his brother spent summers on their grandparent’s Indiana farm where he helped grow wheat, corn, and vegetables (perhaps those summers on the family farm were what led him to later devote nearly 1,000 acres of land near Ravenna, Ohio to agriculture – primarily corn and soy beans). Mr. Morgan was determined to become more than a simple farm boy. In 1938, he became an engineer following his graduation from Purdue University and his acceptance of an engineering position at B. F. Goodrich in Akron, Ohio. In 1945, after taking a job in New Jersey at Johnson & Johnson to design the equipment to put pressure-sensitive adhesive on paper for junior-size Band Aids, Mr. Morgan could have added ‘inventor’ to his resume.
After getting fired from Johnson & Johnson in 1953 for his insistence on developing an adhesive bra, Mr. Morgan pursued entrepreneurship. He partnered with the Avery Label Company to start Fasson, a pressure-adhesive paper company in Ohio. Following his small success at Fasson, Mr. Morgan became involved with the launch and growth of dozens of companies, many of which had products that flopped or that failed completely. In 1967, he made millions with Filmco, a company that helped revolutionize the meat-packaging industry with the creation of a new type of cellophane – a clear elastic film through which oxygen could pass. After that successful venture, he decided to pursue philanthropy and the promotion of entrepreneurship through the establishment of The Burton D. Morgan Foundation. Since the 1970′s, the foundation has given away tens of millions of dollars in grants, including six educational buildings along with an initiative to spread entrepreneurship across liberal arts campuses.
Mr. Morgan is an inspiration, not only to entrepreneurs, but to everyone – his life is a testament to the fact that you can do anything you can imagine.
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