How to Treat People

October 22, 2002

Some of you probably have outdoor clothing you wear that is made from Polartech or Polarfleece material.  The company that makes these materials is called Malden Mills.  The owner of the company is a deeply religious man of the Jewish faith named Aaron Feuerstein.  The factory employs 3,400 workers and is the main employer for two neighboring towns.  The area once had many mills but most had closed and moved to areas where they could pay people less money to work.  Mr. Feuerstein, however, felt that people should be paid a decent wage and so refused to move his factory, in spite of the higher production costs.

On December 31, 1995, his 70th birthday, his factory caught fire and burned to the ground.  The workers believed it was the end of the line for their jobs.  Surely Mr. Feuerstein, at 70 years of age, would take the $300 million in insurance money and call it quits.  While the smoke was still rising from the charred remains of the fire Mr. Feuerstein called his workers together at a school gymnasium and spoke to them.  They were about to discover what kind of man they really worked for.  He announced that he would not abandon them and that he was going to rebuild the factory.  He told them that he was keeping all 3,400 of them on the payroll for one month and that each would get a $275 Christmas bonus.  Once the factory was rebuilt they would all be welcomed back.  Grown men wept in the audience as he spoke.  After the first month ended he paid them for another month.  After the second month ended he paid them for a third month.  It cost him $1.5 million dollars a week to do this, but he held steadfastly to his promise and did not abandon them.  He even paid their hospitalization insurance.

His employees responded in kind by salvaging what equipment they could from the burned buildings and in temporary shelters began production once more.  At one stage, production levels were equal to that which they had been before the fire.

Mr. Feuerstein received much praise from around the country but he said he did only what was the moral and right thing to do.  He used his money to support his beliefs in God rather than make money his God.

As each of you lives your life try to remember Mr. Feuerstein's example and treat people you encounter with fairness and kindness.  You will be amazed at how much better you will be treated in return.

Good night, gentlemen.