McGraw History


Max McGraw’s Life Story

Small town boy grew to be a corporate pioneer

Max McGraw was born in Clear Lake, Iowa on February 1, 1883 and retained those small town characteristics until his passing on October 26, 1964 at the age of 81 while on a hunting trip in Utah.

Just as Thomas Edison worked as a newsboy as a young teenager, so too did Max McGraw begin his business career. With $500 saved as a newspaper delivery boy, he began as an electrical contractor in 1900 at the age of 17, establishing the McGraw Electric Company, the predecessor of the McGraw – Edison Company.

From the modest beginning in Mid-America, Max McGraw was to create two of this country’s largest and most successful corporations, McGraw-Edison Company and Centel Corporation.

Throughout Max McGraw’s life story is the pattern of striving toward a goal. There is in the climax the attainment of success, stemming from his vision, ingenuity and plain hard work.

At the time of his death, Max McGraw, age 81, was still vitally active and leading the affairs of the two great corporate enterprises he founded and built. He was the chairman of the executive committee of McGraw-Edison Company and chairman of the board of a predecessor company of Centel Corporation. Through this corporate pioneering and through several not-for-profit enterprises he started Max McGraw lives on.

A quote often said by Max was “There is a way to do it better….find it.