Colleagues remember Peter Kaufmann
By Staff -- Home Textiles Today, 1/26/2004 12:00:00 AM
NEW YORK —
Services were held last week for Peter Kaufmann, founder and chairman of P. Kaufmann, Inc.
Kaufmann died last week at 86. He founded his decorative fabrics company in 1957, and was known and respected around the world for his sense of style and business integrity.
In 1993, Kaufmann was awarded the Marvin Rosenberg Citizen of the Industry Award that was presented by CHF Industries to honor Marvin Rosenberg, founder of Cameo Curtains, a one-time division of the company.
Over the years, the company acquired the Joseph Woods Co., Western Fabrics, Bloomcraft, Anju/Woodridge, Fabriyaz — which became the Braemore division — and Howard Kaplan Fabrics, which now is Bloomcraft Home.
The company also established the Folia division to produce fabrics and wallcoverings under its license for Ralph Lauren Home. It operates Bennettsville Print Works and acquired Clarence House, a prestigious designer showroom.
His standing was unique among his competitors, suppliers, and customers, many of whom considered him a personal friend as well as a business peer.
The company's annual Heimtextil party in Frankfurt drew the creme de la creme of the international fabric world, with Kaufmann standing by the front door to greet every guest.
As Stanley King, one of the fabric industry's most prominent designers reminisced, "He was so much more than an industry icon. He was an erudite, complete human being, a man of grace and Old World charm, generosity and charity.
"He jump-started my career over 40 years ago by having me earn royalties as well as taking chances on styles and designs. He was one of a kind."
From a competitor, Fred Richman of Richloom, "We go back almost 55 years; we commuted together. I found him to be a perfect gentleman, and a good and fair competitor. He will be missed in the industry."
Frank Foley, chairman and CEO of CHF Industries, and sponsor of the Citizen of the Industry Award, said, "My thesaurus doesn't have enough adjectives to describe Peter. He was so decent, so smart, so generous, such a good businessman. I'm personally better off in my life for knowing him."
David Finer, chairman of Fabricut called him "my personal mentor and role model. How he dealt with customers, vendors and competitors was at the highest level of integrity. As I handled many situations in my company, I'd think — 'How would Peter do it?'"
Irwin Ginsburg, a long-time competitor and friend whose company was purchased by Kaufmann, remarked, "He had a gusto for life, food, drink, company. I cherish our lunches and his stories of his life as a young man. It was a pleasure knowing him as a friendly competitor, and I was thrilled to be involved with him when he bought Anju."
Designer Jean Baudrand said, "He was quite a quelque chose — elegance, style, kindness for all."
Abby Gilmore, CEO of Covington Industries, remarked, "He was one of the great movers and shakers of the industry. He holds a special place. He was a fine competitor. What he said was the truth. I'll miss him."
Bob Liebowitz, vice president, Cone Finishing division, said, "We lost a good man. He had sensitivity, humor and he had a respect for others' vision. He was straightforward, and you always knew where you stood."
Kaufmann is survived by his wife Ruth, daughter Jackie, son Ron — president of the company — son Andy and five grandchildren.
Contributions in his memory can be made to Citymeals on Wheels, 355 Lexington Ave., New York, N.Y. and City Harvest, 575 Eighth Avenue, New York, N.Y.
We would love your feedback!