Malden Mills II

Program Information

Series: A Moment in Time
Duration: 00:04:12
Year Produced: 2010
Description:

The world of business often creates a hostile relationship between worker and employer. One company which seeks to overcome such conflict is Malden Mills of Lawrence, Massachusetts.

A Moment in Time is a brief, exciting and compelling journey into the past. Created to excite and enlighten the public about the past, its relevance to the present and its impact on the future, A Moment In Time is a captivating historical narrative that is currently broadcast worldwide.

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Transcript

Lead: The world of business often creates a hostile relationship between worker and employer. One company which seeks to overcome such conflict is Malden Mills of Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The Fuerstein family has run Malden Mills since the company’s founding in 1906. The latest CEO is Aaron Fuerstein, born in the decade before the Great Depression. He has guided the company through three major crises, each of which could have caused the company to founder, and during each demonstrated an uncharacteristic commitment to the welfare of the company's employees and the community in which it did business.

In the early 1980s the company was forced into bankruptcy. It emerged from Chapter 11, reinvented itself, and developed Polartec, a synthetic fiber used in the fabrication of high end winter gear marketed by companies such as The North Face, Patagonia, L.L. Bean and Land’s End. In December 1995, fire devastated the ancient factory buildings in which most of the cloth was fabricated. Three days after the fire, to employees' obvious relief, Aaron Fuerstein committed the company to continuing the wages and health insurance of most of the workers until the damage was repaired and work resumed. Finally, having taken significant loans to rebuild the plant, the company again was forced into bankruptcy in order to keep operating.

When asked to describe what was unique about his approach, he said, “The fundamental difference is that I consider our workers an asset, not an expense . . . I have a responsibility.” In another era such a statement would have been called patronizing, but today--with massive layoffs, jobs shipped overseas, corporate executives paying themselves giant pensions while workers' pensions are being eviscerated--Fuerstein’s commitment is widely hailed as ethical leadership at its finest.

At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.