Alan Mannason, Mentor in the CSUF Entrepreneurship classroom for 15 consecutive years, has passed away at age 94 years old. He was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1924 and moved to Los Angeles in 1937 (when movies cost $.10 and a Baby Ruth candy bar cost $.05). He remembered that the train ride from Chicago to Los Angeles took 39 hours. His first job was delivering newspapers when he was just 13 years old.
Alan was a WWII Army veteran but, like many veterans, seldom spoke about his tour of duty. After the war, he began his business career in 1946. He took a job as an office boy with Schenley Distillers in Los Angeles, CA. Within a few months, he began working as a liquor salesman with the R. E. Spriggs Company. Alan called on bars in Hollywood during evening hours. In 1948, he became a Territory Salesman for Simon Levi Company, the top liquor distributor in Southern California.
In 1959, Alan bought a liquor store in Canoga Park, CA. At that time, it was an equestrian area and customers arrived on horseback! In 1962, he went to work for Fontana-Hollywood Company selling Italian wines in Southern California. He found success in selling to Italian restaurants and delicatessens. Additionally, he had a line of French wines. The company sent him to Italy and France in 1963 to meet the suppliers of the wines he represented.
In 1965, Bohemian Distributing Company offered Alan the position of Branch Manager. He won a trip to the Caribbean that year in recognition of his success. In 1967, he went to work for Paterno Imports as a Western Division VP. There he sold sparkling wines and also Veronese wines and vermouth. His territory now expanded to 11 western states. By 1967, his position included marketing. He found success traveling to Italy and began suggesting marketing strategies to suppliers while searching for new brands. In 1968, the Italian Trade Commission awarded Alan the Bacchus de Oro for the amount of Italian wine brought into California. In 1978, Heublein bought Paterno. Schieffelin Imports offered Alan a position as Central Division Manager in Chicago, IL. There he was the VP and General Manager for Pacific Wine (a division of Paterno Imports). In 1983, Gaetano Cordials offered Alan a position as Vice President and National Sales Manager. He enjoyed traveling throughout the USA as their representative.
After retirement, Alan served as a counselor with the SBA agency SCORE (also known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives) volunteer for fifteen years. Alan aspired to foster vibrant small business communities through mentoring and education. At SCORE Alan gave marketing and sales advices to dozens of small businesses.
Starting in 2002, Alan joined my Entrepreneurial Marketing class as an in-classroom mentor. He loved it so much he volunteered every semester for 15 years. He mentored dozens and dozens of students in our student-led business consulting program. To our students, Alan was a strong leader with the ability to effectively guide people. From our perspective, Alan helped make the students he mentored more marketable to our business clients because he brought wisdom and gravitas to each project he was a mentor on.
Alan was also a philanthropist. Over the years, Alan has had the pleasure of awarding about 50 scholarships to students at Cal State Fullerton and other universities. He helped keep students in school and motivated them to finish their degrees.
To say Alan was well read is a vast understatement. Every time I saw Alan he carried a new book; the book subjects included biographies of famous people, historical fiction and politics. He was also a student of current events and was always available with an opinion on the news of the day. I found him to be veritable encyclopedia of factoids and history.
He was an Advisory Board Member for the Center for Entrepreneurship for 5 years and helped guide our Center strategy. He recently contributed to our book “Creating New Ventures” which allowed him to offer insight to young entrepreneurs.
Alan is survived by his son, Martin (Mary) Mannason, daughters Sharon (Richard) Carpe, Nancy Sussman and Joan (Owen) Kline, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
In celebration of Alan and his many contributions to CSUF Entrepreneurship, the Allan Mannason Scholarship will be established. The recipient will be given a tuition free residency at the CSUF Startup Incubator.
Alan’s motto was, “Common sense is not so common.” Alan always made his business decisions using common sense. When asked about his reflections on his time as a mentor Alan had this to say: “I hope what I have done in the past has helped the future of some students.”
Alan, let me assure you, that you did.
John Bradley Jackson
Center for Entrepreneurship, CSUF Startup Incubator