Controversial billionaire Manuel "Matty" Moroun has died, Crain's reports. He was 93. He was best known as the owner of two blighted structures: the crumbling Ambassador Bridge that connects Detroit and Windsor, which he owned since 1979, and the abandoned former Michigan Central Station, which was his from 1992 to 2018, where it became known as Detroit's premier slice of "ruin porn" real estate until he sold it to Ford Motor Co.
Transportation tycoon owns Ambassador Bridge; conduit for one-fourth of commerce between U.S. and Canada. Detroit native grew up poor, worked in gas station as a teenager. Crunched numbers for father's Central Cartage trucking outfit 1950s; took full control in 1970s. Matty bought Warren Buffett's 25% stake in Ambassador Bridge 1979, quickly snapped up controlling stake with family. Sued by sisters 1992 for $50 million, citing company mismanagement; settled 7 years later, bought their stake. Other investments include Universal Truckload Services, PAM Transportation, CenTra. Said to ignite ire amongst Teamsters, locals with controversial business practices. Now looking to build $1 billion twin bridge next to Ambassador.
His parents, Tufick (who went by Thomas) and Jamal, were married in Detroit where Matty was born, on June 5, 1927. Intent on a medical career after graduating from Notre Dame, Moroun attended University of Michigan. He tried to gain admittance to the medical school, but was unsuccessful.
In 1946, during Matty’s sophomore year, his dad bought the Central Cartage Company from its two owners, probably due to the fact that they owed him money. The company went through several evolutions to become what is known today as Central Transport, headquartered in Warren, Mich.
With no chance of being admitted to its medical school, Moroun left U-M in 1951 to join his father at Central Cartage. On July 31, 1979 Central Cartage Company purchased the Ambassador Bridge, which is owned and operated by the Detroit International Bridge Company. Today, the bridge handles 26 percent of trade between the U.S. and Canada, according to company sources.