The CEO Who Put His Workers First

After a fire destroyed most of Malden Mills textile complex in Lawrence, Mass., owner Aaron Feuerstein kept paying his 1,400 workers for another 3 months, extended their health benefits, and set about rebuilding the business so he could bring them back to work. Feuerstein’s belief was that you could have the best engineers, the best research and development, and the best technical experts, but it’s the employee on the floor who are going to help you develop the best quality. He believed that if employees feel they’re a part of the enterprise and are treated the way they should be, they’ll go the extra mile to provide that quality. Malden’s product line over the years included sweaters, polo shirts and fake fur used to line trench coats. When down jackets became popular and the demand for fur plunged, Malden Mills developed a synthetic fleece branded as Polartec that was embraced by apparel makers.