John R. Mott
American Immigrant, Entrepreneur, Dreamer
In many ways the story of John Mott is the story of America itself.
Born Giovanni Motta in 1909 in the mountain village of Serra d’Aiello, in
Italy’s Calabria region, the youngster and his family moved in 1911 to the
foreign world of Pennsylvania, where his father found work as a coal miner. As
it was for so many others in his newly adopted foreign country, life was hard
for the boy. His first job was working in a neighbor’s slaughtering farm, by
which effort he supplemented meals for his family.
Driven by a deep thirst for knowledge, the young man graduated from high school
and was the first in his family to attend college. Without the possibility of
financial support from his family, he worked his way through both undergraduate
and graduate school. Because he had to work full-time to support himself and
help his family, his formal education lasted into his early thirties.
During the Great Depression, John Mott (his newly adopted name) worked as a
union organizer in Albany, New York. An entrepreneur at heart, in 1952 he
founded the John R. Mott US Mail Transporting Company, and secured a federal
contract. Mr Mott launched his company with a second-hand tractor-trailer and
himself as sole employee. Through ingenuity and hard work, his business grew
steadily. Always a hands-on manager, Mr. Mott drove a truck himself until the
age of 82. He continued to manage the company daily until his death at the age
Although a man of significant means, Mr. Mott eschewed luxury and maintained a
frugal lifestyle. Living in a simple room in his company warehouse, he spent
little on himself, and preferred instead to invest his resources for a larger
cause: his dream of eventually giving back to the beloved land he and his family
had left years before.