Zep’s Erwin Zaban Remembered for Business Leadership & Philanthropic Activities
ATLANTA – Zep Inc. and our industry mourns and celebrates the life of Erwin Zaban, one of the founding family members of the company that became Zep Inc. Erwin Zaban, 88, who with his family, built the Zep Manufacturing Company, passed away at his home on Tuesday, July 6.
At age 15, Mr. Zaban joined the company established by his father. He was always proud of his beginning -- sweeping floors and mixing chemicals as an after-school job. After serving in the military, he rejoined the company, serving first as a salesman, then as sales manager, before being appointed company president in 1947, a position he held until 1966.
He was responsible for much of Zep’s growth, helping the company survive and thrive during World War II and taking the company nationwide in the 1950s. Between the time he joined the company in 1937 and the time he left the position of company president, sales grew from $100,000 a year to $29 million.
“Erwin made it his mission to help the company grow -- from an independent family business to what today is a multi-national public company,” notes John K. Morgan, Chairman, President, and CEO, Zep Inc. “At the same time, he demonstrated tremendous dedication and caring toward his employees, customers and everyone he came into contact with. For instance, during WWII, when there was a federally mandated freeze on salary increases, Erwin made sure he took care of his workers by providing free lunches every day.”
Zep Manufacturing Company merged with National Linen to form National Service Industries (NSI) in 1961, where Mr. Zaban served as the company’s Chairman and CEO. Even as he became less involved in the day-to-day management of Zep, he was known to love showing up at the Saturday morning “biscuits and business” meetings into the 1990s. He retired as chairman and chief executive officer of NSI in 1994.
Zaban was born August 17, 1921 in Atlanta, Georgia. He is survived by his wife, Judy, three children, and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.