A.J. “Hoppe” Hagopian
A.J. “Hoppe” Hagopian
A.J. “HOPPE” Hagopian (1905-2001), Business Leader – Manufacturing Innovator
A.J. “HOPPE” Hagopian grew up in Springfield, MA where his family settled after emigrating from Armenia in 1913. After being educated in the local school system, he worked as a Tool & Die Maker in the Eastern, USA, eventually settling permanently in Springfield, MA where he became the lead gage maker at the Springfield Armory. While working in this capacity, he taught Toolmaking in the evening program at the Springfield Trade School, from which he graduated. It was after working at the Armory that he went into the tool and die manufacturing business.
Located in Chicopee, MA, and formerly owned and operated by grandsons Eric and Douglas Hagopian, Hoppe Tool began as “A.J. Hoppe Tool Works”, a name derived from “HOPPE’s” childhood nickname and was financed by the proceeds from the sale of his first two inventions that were sold to the L.S. Starrett Co., of Athol, MA.
“HOPPE” was a prolific inventor, a teacher, successful businessman and employer whose creative mind has had lasting effects in a field as diverse as the machining of metals, golf ball design and baseball manufacturing.
In 1948, through association with the A.G. Spalding Company, he designed and manufactured tooling that made the baseball’s cover more uniform and easier to stitch. The new cover produced a tighter fit and resulted in the “livelier” ball that created much controversy in the sports world during that era.
In 1966, after retiring from Hoppe Tool, Inc.., the company that he started in 1941, he moved to Cape Cod where in collaboration with his son Gary, the father-son team virtually revolutionized the manufacture of the molds used to make golf balls. At Hye Precision Products, the new company he formed to manufacturing these new inventions, their innovations made possible the myriad of new golf ball dimple designs responsible for today’s higher flying, longer distance golf balls.
Another fact of notable significance is that “HOPPE” was a member of the first Junior Achievement group in America and was honored for his lifetime achievements at a National Junior Achievement convention. Daughter Helen Hagopian was similarly honored as a standout Junior Achiever at the same convention. Hoppe embodied most of the characteristic taught to Junior Achievers and was a recognized leader in the business community and his industry, throughout his career.
Now Hoppe Technologies, Inc., and no longer operated by the family, the company continues today as a private-equity owned business. Supplying precision mechanical components and assemblies to major commercial manufacturers, aircraft engine builders, and military equipment contractors, the company is a testament to American ingenuity and manufacturing stability. It is one of the oldest continuous members of the National Tooling and Machining Association and its position as a leader in today’s machining industry is a tribute to A.J. “HOPPE” Hagopian’s manufacturing, engineering, and business acumen.
I chose to bestow the honor of inclusion in the Manufacturing Ledger on my late Grandfather, A.J. (HOPPE) Hagopian because of his many contributions to the manufacturing community. As an immigrant to our beloved country, he was truly a patriot that assimilated to and loved his country. His hard work, dedication to employees and community were evident in everything he did. He gave generously to those needing help, offered his mentorship and time to Junior Achievement, the fraternal organization of Freemasons, the Armenian and Congregational churches. An immigrant that came to this country as a non-English speaking 8 year old boy, Hoppe gave over $1,000,000.00 to charities during his lifetime. He was a great family man, respected business leader and innovator the likes of which we should all aspire to become. — Eric Hagopian