Roger Milliken

Hometown: New York, New York

Industry: Textile and Chemical Manufacturing

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early life

Born in 1915 in New York, New York Roger Milliken’s introduction to the textile world began at an early age. Both his grandfather Seth and father Gerrish ran a small family textile business known as Deering Milliken, which formed in the 1860s. After graduating from Yale University with a B.A. in 1937, Milliken immersed himself in the textile industry. 


He became a director of the family company in 1941, and president in 1947. In the 1950s the business changed names to Milliken & Company, and continued to see rapid growth. With a serious dedication to quality and a keen business sense, Milliken helped pioneer many tactics and techniques now common in the textile industry.

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Free enterprise hero

A staunch advocate of education, Milliken created a learning center within the corporate campus, Milliken University. The school strives to help the men and women in its workforce reach their fullest potential, while insuring company growth. Milliken’s name is associated with the American quality movement, and his Pursuit of Excellence process, which encourages associates to share their thoughts on how excellence can be achieved, has been recognized by the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. He has been inducted into the South Carolina and U.S. Business Hall of Fame. Milliken is also renowned for his conservation and tree planting and has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation. His passion for excellence and commitment to quality has never wavered, and his company continues to experience great success.