Saltzman, Maurice

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SALTZMAN, MAURICE (1918–1990), U.S. apparel manufacturer, philanthropist. Saltzman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, one of 10 children. Having lost both parents by the time he was four, he was raised in a local orphanage, but went on to become a preeminent maker of moderate-price women's sportswear and a leading philanthropist in the Cleveland area. His company, Bobbie Brooks Inc., was one of the first U.S. clothing manufacturers to reach an annual volume of more than $100 million. Following his graduation from Cleveland Heights High School at the age of 16, Saltzman went to work in the shipping room of Lampl Fashions, a local dress manufacturer. Five years later, in 1939, he and Max Reiter borrowed a couple of thousand dollars and launched Ritmore Manufacturing Co., producing dresses with a label that said Barbara Brooks. A year later, they changed the label to Bobbie Brooks and switched from dresses to junior sportswear, then a relatively new clothing category. In 1953, when Reiter left to go into his own business, Ritmore became Bobbie Brooks Inc., with Saltzman as chairman and chief executive officer. Its concept of coordinated sportswear – pieces that could be purchased separately and worn in various combinations – was highly successful, and the company went public in 1960. In the 1970s, Bobbie Brooks reached $100 million in volume, a mark attained by few apparel firms up to that time, but over-expansion was a problem. By 1977, the company initiated a restructuring program to sell or liquidate its marginal or losing units. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1982 and emerged a year later. In 1986, the company began licensing the Bobbie Brooks label to other manufacturers. After suffering a stroke in 1987, Saltzman retired. He was one of Cleveland's leading philanthropists, donating millions to such institutions as the Jewish Community Federation, Mt. Sinai Medical Center, and Bellefaire/Jewish Children's Home, formerly the Jewish Orphans Home, where he spent 11 years as a child. The campus of that home is now called the Saltzman Campus for Child Care. Saltzman, who was vice president of Cleveland's Temple Emanu-El, also founded the Saltzman-Wuliger Senior Citizens Center in Tel Aviv and a library and museum at the Children's Village of Gan Yavneh in Israel. He received a Humanitarian Medal from B'nai B'rith and a National Human Relations Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

[Mort Sheinman (2nd ed.)]