Obituary: Richard J. Mahdesian
Richard J. Mahdesian, founder of Servicon Systems, Inc. and a visionary pioneer in the building maintenance services industry, has passed away at the age of 89. He spent his final days with his children, Denise, and her husband Martin, and Michael, and his wife Natalie, as well as grandchildren, Anna, Nick, Gregory and Gabrielle, at his home in Studio City, sharing memories of his youth and of his late wife, Dr. Gloria Mahdesian. He remained active in Servicon’s day-to-day operations until the end, serving as its Chairman Emeritus since 2015 and supporting the firm’s ongoing innovations in technology, certification training and sustainable practices.
Richard was born in 1929 in Los Angeles to immigrant survivors of the Armenian Genocide. He spent the majority of his boyhood managing the family farm in Fresno, California, during the Great Depression. There he learned the value of hard work, compassion for the less fortunate, and a commitment to progressive values that permeated throughout every aspect of his life. In between his commitments to school and the farm, Richard somehow found time to excel in his great passion- football.
While in high school, he met a girl visiting from Los Angeles named Gloria Baronian. The two instantly hit it off and began a long-distance correspondence that blossomed into a lifelong romance. They were blessed with 57 years of marriage until Gloria passed away in 2009. She was a powerful and independent woman ahead of her time, and Richard gladly followed and supported her as she achieved a doctorate and practice in psychology, as well as her many philanthropic and political pursuits.
A classic tale of love at first sight, Richard and Gloria married while he was attending USC on both an athletic and academic scholarships. He was born across the street from the Coliseum, and to later play Trojan Football in that same stadium was one of the proudest moments of his life. His love for the game never abated, and he was glued to the television for USC’s last Rose Bowl appearance in 2017. He amazed everyone he knew with his ability to recall the names and statistics of virtually every player to don the cardinal and gold.
Richard is perhaps best known as a pillar of the Los Angeles business community. The seeds of his remarkable career were sown during his service as Lieutenant in charge of personnel at Edwards Air Base’s Air Force Flight Test Center. During his tenure, he studied the cleaning industry and the specific requirements for successfully cleaning critical environments and facilities. Following his time in the Air Force in the early to mid 1950’s, Richard developed the Total Service Concept and founded the first corporation that offered integrated facility services, security, and crowd management, before selling it to a major international security firm.
Servicon Systems, Inc. was founded by Richard in 1973. Over the years as it expanded, Servicon became the first company of its kind to implement groundbreaking “green cleaning” that set new standards for the industry. His commitment to sustainability, to his people, and to the concept of total service enabled him to grow the company to become one of the largest independent custodial contractors in the southwest United States, along with winning awards for being one of the best places to work in Los Angeles.
Richard was a compassionate and respected leader, and a mentor who motivated everyone he encountered. He was liked by all, had tremendous energy and went above and beyond to inspire others with his passion for quality and ability to generate new ideas throughout his career. Beyond Servicon’s success, he took the most pride in developing the talent of his employees. Many of his top managers began as janitors and were trained and promoted as they excelled.
The Mahdesian family is deeply saddened by the loss of their father and grandfather, but they have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support. Richard’s legacy of kindness and generosity of spirit extends far beyond his family. He was a mentor and father figure to many, and while he will be greatly missed, those who were blessed to know him will never forget him.
In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to the Richard and Gloria Mahdesian Memorial Fund. A Memorial Service and Celebration of Life will take place at Servicon’s Headquarters at 3965 Landmark St. in Culver City on April 22nd, Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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