|Born||December 11, 1925|
|Alma mater||Yeshiva University |
|Known for||CEO Malden Mills, Polartec fabric|
|Spouse(s)||Louise Feuerstein (married 1988-2013, her death) |
|Parents||Samuel (father) |
|Relatives||Rabbi Moses Feuerstein (brother) |
When the Malden Mills factory burnt down on December 11, 1995, Feuerstein decided not only to use his insurance money to rebuild it, but to also pay the salaries of all the now-unemployed workers while it was being rebuilt. Feuerstein spent millions keeping all 3,000 employees on the payroll with full benefits for 6 months. By going against common CEO business practices, especially at a time when most companies were downsizing and moving overseas, he achieved a small degree of fame.
Feuerstein claimed that he couldn't have taken another course of action due to his study of the Talmud and the lessons he learnt there:
- "I have a responsibility to the worker, both blue-collar and white-collar. I have an equal responsibility to the community. It would have been unconscionable to put 3,000 people on the streets and deliver a deathblow to the cities of Lawrence and Methuen. Maybe on paper our company is worthless to Wall Street, but I can tell you it's worth more."
- —(Parade Magazine, 1996)
It would cost Aaron Feuerstein $25,000,000, his CEO position, and a November 2001 filing of chapter 11 bankruptcy to 'do the right thing'. The company achieved solvency again with the help of creditor generosity and government subsidies. Malden Mills later garnered some lucrative Department of Defense (DOD) contracts for 'smart' products that interweave fiber optic cabling, electronic biosensors, and USB ports into polar fleece fabric. Malden Mills was awarded a $16 million DOD contract in 2006. In January 2007, however, Malden Mills filed for bankruptcy again and ended production in July. The company's underfunded (by 49%) pension was abandoned due to sale of corporate assets.
An Industrialist and philanthropist, for setting the standard for commitment to employees following a devastating fire at his Malden Mills manufacturing plant, he was awarded the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award on March 13, 1998.
- Kerber, Ross, "Aaron Feuerstein's labor of love: A throwback to a patrician era fights an uphill battle to regain control of company his grandfather founded", The Boston Globe, September 14, 2003
- McKenna, Kathleen, "Louise Feuerstein, 76; worked with husband to rebuild Malden Mills", The Boston Globe, September 26, 2013
- Karasick, Joseph, Rabbi "Obituary of Rabbi Moses Feuerstein", Orthodox Union News, March 18, 2009
- Vaughn, Susan Firms Find Long-Term Rewards in Doing Good, Los Angeles Times, November 3, 1997. Accessed February 25, 2013.
- Polartec: Polartec® Promise
- Congress Awards Malden Mills Major Military Contracts for 2006
- Bloomberg News. Malden Mills Returns to Bankruptcy, The New York Times, January 11, 2007. Accessed February 25, 2013.
- PBGC Protects Pensions at Malden Mills
- Courage of Conscience Award Recipients
- Jennings, Marianne M., Business: Its Legal, Ethical, and Global Environment, Cengage Learning, 2005. Cf. p.775 for a biography of Aaron Feuerstein.