Former Fedders chairman and room air pioneer Sal Giordano died Feb. 22 at the age of 92.
Giordano, who grew Fedders from an obscure metal fabricating business to a global air treatment supplier, is credited with applying mass production techniques to room air manufacturing. His compact, easily installed and affordable ACs put room air within the reach of the general public over 50 years ago.
Born to Italian immigrants in 1910, the Brooklyn native left high school to help support his family with an unskilled job at a handbag frame factory, and three years later ran all plant production. By 1942 he became president of Fedders predecessor F.J. Quigan Co., where he contributed to the U.S. war effort by designing a lighter and more durable ammo clip for anti-aircraft cannons. Giordano was cited by the War Department as a "human dynamo" for producing the new clip 20 times faster and at a fraction of the cost of its predecessor.
In 1945 he negotiated the purchase of a controlling interest in Fedders Manufacturing Co., a Buffalo, N.Y.-based metal fabricator that had diversified into the heat-transfer business. Giordano capitalized on Fedders' heat transfer background and moved aggressively into the design and development of the newly created room air category. Within a year the company began marketing private label units and introduced its own Fedders brand products by 1948.
Giordano was named CEO of Fedders Corp. in 1945 and elected chairman in 1952. He held the CEO post until 1988, and was named chairman emeritus in 2001, a position he held until his passing.