Feb. 17/24 2014, Volume 27/number 21
Former CEO of Michael Halebian & Co.
Englewood Cliffs, N.J.—Michael Halebian Sr., who built Michael Halebian & Co. into one of the largest flooring distributorships in the Northeast and whose tenure in the business spanned nearly 70 years of active participation, passed away Feb. 2. He was 90 years old.
After serving with the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II, he returned home to New York in 1945 and acquired his uncle’s Oriental rug supply business, with a product offering that included needles, thread, scissors, yarn, binding and wax.
From a small room located in an office building on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan, Halebian, known in the industry as “Big Mike,” was instrumental in pioneering the concept that would become the business model of the “flooring accessories” distributor. He incorporated newly created products such as tackless strip, seaming tape, moldings and a variety of flooring adhesives into the product line.
In 1958, the company moved to a storefront location, and by 1970 the business had grown to the point where it was necessary to obtain warehouse space in Carlstadt, N.J. Ultimately, a new generation with new ideas entered the family business. The product line was expanded to include residential and commercial floor coverings such as resilient, rubber, vinyl and wood as well as an emphasis on floor leveling products. The number of sales representatives expanded and a specification staff was created. Branch operations in Hartford, Conn., and Bensalem, Pa., were added as well as a showroom in New York.
Now one of the largest hardwood flooring distributors in the Northeast, Halebian & Co. serves the New York metropolitan area, southern New England, upstate New York, western New York and the greater Philadelphia area.
Under a tough exterior was a heart of gold, noted his son, Michael Halebian Jr., who now runs the company. “Dad was always willing to help people enter the flooring industry. Many fondly recall his desire to be of assistance when a helping hand was needed. ‘Big Mike’ was proud of his success in the industry. He marveled at how his business expanded during his career and enjoyed monitoring changes in the industry.
“He not only loved the flooring industry,” he added, “he lived it and will be missed by family, friends and business associates. He was surely one of a kind.”
Halebian Sr. continued working until recently. As Dave Meberg, president and CEO of Consolidated Carpet, noted, “Big Mike was a tremendously generous, thoughtful and giving business partner. Over the years our relationship with Mike transcended business, and the Halebians became like family to us. Mike lived a great life, but his loss is mourned by all of us at Consolidated, and he’ll be remembered not as a vendor to us, but a dear and loyal friend.”
Halebian is survived by his wife of 64 years, Katherine; sons John, Michael Jr. and Edward; daughter, Carol; two grandchildren, and sister, Alice Bendian. He was predeceased by his sister, May Chakmakian.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to St. Leon Armenian Church, 12-61 Saddle River Rd, Fair Lawn, N.J. 07410.