February 9, 2007


And the man behind the brand is...
Candido Jacuzzi

Listen to the podcast http://oscarmeyerpodcast.podbus.com/Jacuzzi.mp3

It must be the name. Candido Jacuzzi did not set out to make his name synomous with laid-back California luxury. Jacuzzi did not invent the whirlpool; it was others that made his soothing-sounding name generic. His business roots were much less romantic.

Candido Jacuzzi was born in northern Italy in 1903 and emigrated with his family, fifteen strong, to the United States early in the century. The family settled in Berkeley, California, becoming machinists. Candido, the youngest of seven brothers, would never complete grammar school.

The first Jacuzzi Brothers, Inc. product was an airplane propeller known as the Jacuzzi “toothpick.” America’s first military planes sported the specialized propeller in World War I. After the war the brothers designed the Jacuzzi J-7, a cabin-style monoplane. There followed a breakthrough development of submersible pumps that opened markets worldwide to Jacuzzi. Factories sprouted in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Italy. More than 50 industrial patents are held by the Jacuzzis.

In 1943 Candido’s 15-month old son contracted rheumatoid arthritis, leaving the boy crippled and distorted with pain. The boy received regular hydrotherapy treatments at local hospitals but Candido could not stand to see his son suffering between visits. He realized that the water pumps Jacuzzi Brothers was making could be adapted to give his son whirlpool treatments at home.

In 1948 Jacuzzi designed an aerating pump that could be used in a bathtub. The unit sat right in the water and could be moved from one bathtub to another. Over the years other sufferers heard about the home relief provided by the portable whirlpool and Jacuzzi manufactured some for special orders.

In 1955 the firm decided to market the Jacuzzi whirlpool bath as a therapeutic aid, selling it in drugstores and bath supply shops. To generate a little publicity for the unknown product portable Jacuzzis were included in the gifts showered on contestants on TV’s Queen for a Day. It was pitched as relief for the worn-down housewife but when Hollywood stars like Randolph Scott and Jayne Mansfield, who were decidedly not worn-down, began offering testimonials the Jacuzzi started to acquire its legendary allure.

The Jacuzzi became a symbol of the sybaritic lifestyle. Hundreds of thousands of Jacuzzi portables were installed, both indoors and outdoors, at recreation centers and private homes. But the whirlpool bath was still mostly a sidelight at Jacuzzi Brothers. By far the bulk of their revenues came from sales of water pumps, marine jets and swimming pool equipment.

Candido Jacuzzi, who had worked his way up as sales manager and general manager, was forced to resign as president of the firm in 1969 when he was indicted on five counts of income tax invasion, triggering a series of hardships that clouded the final years of his life.

Rather than face trial, although protesting his innocence, Jacuzzi fled the country, splitting his time between Italy and Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. In 1975 he suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed. He was able to return home to Scottsdale, Arizona but before his death in 1986 Jacuzzi was dealt the cruelest blow of all - the sale of Jacuzzi Brothers in 1979, prompted by family squabbling.

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