Andrew A. Foti of Lewiston, who founded the world's largest distributor of cookware, died Thursday in his home, surrounded by his family. He was 92.
Mr. Foti was born in Brooklyn to Italian immigrants. He earned a bachelor's degree from Marietta College in Ohio in just three years.
Trained as an engineer, Mr. Foti worked for General Motors during World war II, designing airplane parts, but discovered that business was his true calling.
His father, Peter, was a cookware salesman in New York City. After learning that stainless steel cookware provides an even heat and is easy to clean, Mr. Foti founded International Home Products, a company focused on healthy living through the distribution of housewares and water purification systems. The company is headquartered in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with offices in Miami and Orlando, Fla.
Distributed under the brand name Lifetime Cookware, the cookware consists of a dozen different metals inside the stainless steel, making it possible to cook vegetables waterless and meats greaseless at an even temperature.
Mr. Foti established a network of salesmen throughout the U.S. and Canada, and orders began pouring in to the tune of millions of dollars.
In 1986, International Home Products created Health Distillers, which sells water purification equipment for home and office use.
Mr. Foti's son, Andrew, better known as Bert, began working in the cookware company's Canadian warehouse in Niagara Falls, Ont., as a teenager and now runs the company -- the third generation in the cookware business.
"We've had the same clients all over North America for more than 50 years," he said by telephone Tuesday from Puerto Rico. Annual sales are currently $42 million, he said.
The Foti family expressed gratitude for "all of the wonderful health care workers and emergency technicians who became part of the family at the end of Andrew's life."
Mr. Foti was predeceased by his first wife, the former Mildred Tallinger.
He is survived by his wife, the former Marian LaBue, three sons, Andrew B., Mark and Peter; three daughters, Linda Foti Leonardo, the Rev. Melody Foti and Petrina Foti; a sister, Marie Gambin; 10 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Stella Niagara, 4421 Lower River Road, Lewiston.
-- Bill Michelmore