Elliot Curwin, 70, CEO of VP Supply based in Rochester, N.Y., died Jan. 25 at Strong Memorial Hospital, also located in Rochester, shortly after being diagnosed with cancer. Although he retained the title of CEO with the wholesale firm, he had been retired from day-to-day operations since 1998.
He and his childhood friend, Marvin Miller, acquired the four-person company in 1965. Today it is one of the 100 largest supply houses in the United States with about 130 employees, four locations - Rochester, Buffalo, Holley and Syracuse, N.Y., and three bath and kitchen showrooms. His sons, Gary and Louis Curwin, now co-own the company, which offers plumbing, HVAC and industrial supplies. Gary Curwin is president, Louis Curwin is secretary-treasurer.
"My father had a work ethic that wouldn't quit and a charm that could light up a room," said Louis Curwin. "He changed the relationship between plumbers and wholesalers in Rochester with promotional trips and an open-door policy for any customer any time. He taught my brother and me that there is no customer too small, and to treat everyone the same: special." He also was president of the Rochester Red Wings (AAA baseball) from 1991-2000.