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Industry Vet Hollander Dies

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, March 14, 2005

Boca Raton, Fla. —Services were held here last week for Leo Hollander, chairman and CEO of Hollander Home Fashions.

Hollander, 68, died March 9 after a 10-month battle with cancer.

He began his career in 1958 working on the factory floor of the business headed by his father Bernard. In 1959, he joined the company full-time and grew the business into a global enterprise with more than 1,500 employees and $250 million in annual revenue.

In addition to the company here, he also was president of Hollander Canada Home Fashions, Allied Hangzhou Down and Feather Co., Hangzhou China and Schlaffcomfort Hollander, Limburg, Germany.

He was known as a tough competitor — but one with a passion not just for the business, but his family and global issues. He was a passionate espouser of all things Republican and had strong opinions about world and local events and actions.

“Forty years ago, there were 25 companies, big and small, in the bed pillow business. Now there are two of those — Hollander and Pacific Coast Feather,” said Jerry Hanuaer, PCF chairman. “He was an ornery S.O.B. — but I liked him. He was fun to talk to, we were pretty good competitors, and I'm going to miss him.”

Alen York, CEO of Dormisette, whose family business was Purofied Down, called Hollander “one of the smartest people in the business, a fierce competitor, but he wasn't an egotist. He was one of the first to go international and locate close to his major retailer customers. He was a terrific guy.”

From the perspective of the Home Fashions Product Association where he headed the Down and Feather Group, Frank Foley, HFPA president, and president and CEO of CHF, cited “his leadership in the Down and Feather Group and its integration into HFPA. He led the efforts to address various governmental and legal issues and was always willing to take on any and all thankless tasks.”

From a personal viewpoint, Foley said, “Our industry lost a very vital, competent individual who left the company in good shape with a strong succession plan. I will miss his even-handed integrity and his aggressive competitiveness.”

“He was clearly one of the leading advocates for our products,” said Steve Palmer, president of United Feather. “He was very well respected, a gentleman and very, very well respected in the industry. He will be missed.”

“A very thought-provoking guy,” was the way Bob Dale, president of bed and bath at WestPoint Stevens, described Hollander. “When you got to know him, he had a soft underbelly, but he was a fierce competitor. He was always trying to extend his company's leadership, and he invested well in Jeff. He loved what he did in everything he did.”

For Chuck Hansen, former CEO of Pillowtex, “Leo was a fierce but honorable competitor. Professionally and personally I was very fond of him. As I recall, we had some lively conversations about politics — he was Republican and very conservative. I will miss him.”

Survivors include Cynthia, his wife of 45 years, his brother Dr. Peter Hollander, two children, Jeff and Douglas, and six grandchildren.

Donations in his name may be made to Congregation B'nai Israel Strategic Planning Fund, 2200 Yamato Road, Boca Raton, Fla., 33431.

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