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1969 Horatio Alger Award Winner

Emmett J. Culligan*

Founder
Culligan, Inc

"Don't be daunted by your failures."

Born in South Dakota in 1893, Emmett Culligan attended two years of college and then served in World War I. In the 1920s he worked for a water softening firm. After moving to Porter, Minnesota, he began working on his own water softening invention. He perforated the bottom of a coffee can and then filled it with green sand. He used this "softened" water to wash his baby's diapers and was pleased with the results. He took his invention to a local blacksmith who manufactured his invention. Culligan offered the man a partnership, but the blacksmith turned him down. Culligan went on to develop a water softening business in the middle of the Depression. Eventually, he conceived of selling his soft water service through franchised dealers rather than selling water softening devices directly to home owners. His ad phrase, "Hey Culligan Man!" became well known throughout the country. Today, there are more than 1,300 Culligan dealerships worldwide.

* Deceased