POMERANTZ, FRED P.

POMERANTZ, FRED P. (1901–1986), U.S. garment manufacturer. Although his formal education never went beyond the sixth grade, Pomerantz was one of the apparel business's most prominent executives. His company, Leslie Fay Inc., was an industry giant, one of the first dress manufacturers to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and his products were sold in stores all over the U.S. Pomerantz, a native New Yorker, was a larger-than-life character who looked more like a boxer than a businessman. Rough-hewn in manner, he would arrive at his office in a chauffeur-driven, maroon Rolls-Royce with his initials on the license plates. The car was a gift to him from the workers at his factory in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where Leslie Fay was a major employer, at one time supporting almost 2,000 people. Pomerantz started working at the age of 11, doing odd jobs and learning how to cut fabrics. With his older brother, Michael, he operated a succession of coat, dress, and uniform companies and during World War II he produced uniforms for the U.S. military. In 1947 he launched his own business, using the government's sizing guidelines to make women's dresses, a category he felt was about to increase in importance as the country moved further away from a wartime environment. He called his company Leslie Fay, naming it after his daughter, and began turning out dresses, sportswear and coats in different price ranges with a variety of labels, including Leslie Fay, Kaspar for ASL, LF Petite, Leslie Pomer, and Breckenridge. The company prospered and in 1962, a public offering was issued. In the 1980s, Leslie Fay went through two leveraged buyouts and a second public offering. The first buyout was in 1982, when Pomerantz took Leslie Fay private for $54.5 million, selling it to his son, John, and other investors. It allowed Pomerantz to cash out his 30% stock interest in the company and he retired. His son succeeded him as chairman. Two years later a second buyout was completed, for $178.4 million. Following Pomerantz's death in 1986, Leslie Fay went public again. Its volume peaked at almost $900 million in 1991, but early in 1993, it was discovered that two company officials had fraudulently reported quarterly earnings. Corrected figures revealed huge losses. The stock price, around $12 a share when the scandal broke, eventually plummeted to less than 50 cents. Leslie Fay filed for bankruptcy in 1993 and remained there for five years before emerging with new owners. It changed its name to LF Brands in April 2003, then closed at the end of the year. Despite Pomerantz's limited education, his name became attached to two prominent schools. In the 1960s, a dormitory at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., was named for him and his wife, Gerta. In 1986, just a few months after Pomerantz died, his family contributed $1 million to the endowment fund of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and the school's Art and Design Center was named for him. (Mort Sheinman (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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