MassMoments reminds us that on this day – December 11, 19995 – fire destroyed three buildings at Malden Mills in Lawrence. This company produced the well-known Polartec fabric. The loss of 3,000 jobs was a catastrophe in the making for the communities of Lawrence and Methuen.
The compassionate promise of the mill owner Aaron Feuerstein to keep his employees on the payroll for a few months and to rebuild on the same site struck a cord thoughout the region and the country. For guidance in making the decision he “turned to the Torah”, the book of Jewish law.
In a 60 Minutes interview he noted:
“You are not permitted to oppress the working man, because he’s poor and he’s needy, amongst your brethren and amongst the non-Jew in your community,” says Feuerstein, who spent $300 million of the insurance money and then borrowed $100 million more to build a new plant that is both environmentally friendly and worker friendly.
In the end – his commitment to social responsibility caused him to file for bankruptcy and lose control of his family business, but Feurerstein remains a legend – almost a folk hero – and the company survived though in the hands of others.
Do you have any stories or comments about this fire and Aaron Feurerstein? Please share them.