Maddak Founder Celebrates 90th Birthday
Kurt Landsberger continues working for ADL manufacturer.
- By David Kopf
- Jan 20, 2011
Kurt Landsberger, founder and CEO of aids to daily (ADL) manufacturer Maddak Inc., recently celebrated his 90th birthday.
Eschewing retirement, Landsberger, who splits his time between Florida and New Jersey, continues to work three days a week for Maddak, as well as another company he founded.
Growing up in pre-Second World War Austria, Landsberer was positioned as an heir to various family businesses, but the circumstances of war forced his departure from his childhood home to escape persecution. After a year in England, where refugees were not permitted to work, Landsberger arrived in America in 1939, where those with an entrepreneurial spirit and ideas could find new opportunities.
After a stint with the U.S. Army, Landsberger began selling aprons, tablecloths and other accessories produced by his wife and business partner Anny. When he discovered that the plastic coating on the fabrics that were used to make these items was chemically resistant, Landsberger turned his attentions and the focus of Bel-Art Products to the burgeoning laboratory market, where his company later became known as a pioneer in the use of plastics for that field.
Later, inspired by a retail medical store he came upon while visiting Scandinavia, Landsberger founded Maddak in 1971. With a little research, Landsberger said he realized that direct access to these types of products by consumers was an unrecognized market in the United States at the time.
"Among other things, the store sold ADLs, small, often inexpensive products that were designed to help injured or permanently disabled individuals lead more independent lives by making everyday tasks like dressing, personal care or housekeeping easier to accomplish," Landsberger said. "We concentrated on selling to dealers who were already serving the public with larger medical items and created a new market."
In addition to building two businesses, Anny and Kurt Landsberger raised two children, David and Allen, and became grandparents to five grandchildren and one recently born great grandchild. David grew up working in the business and is now President of Bel-Art Products, and Allen a graphic designer has also contributed his talents to the companies over the years. Unfortunately, Anny passed away earlier this year
Landsberger continues to devote time to The Landsberger Foundation which supports environmental causes, historic preservation and teaching chess to inner city children. Landsberger has also found time to author six books on subjects as rich and varied as former world chess champion William Steinitz who happens to be his uncle (William Steinitz; Chess Champion) and his time in the United States Army serving as a translator at a German Prisoner of War Camp in Trinidad, Colorado (Prisoners of War). Currently he is collecting and researching material for a new book telling the stories of individuals who survived the holocaust but lost life as they knew it, including his stepfather and great uncle whose Austrian based businesses and property were confiscated by the German army.
Longtime Maddak employee Kathleen Hanek summed up Landsberger’s highly active lifestyle and continued leadership thusly: "Retirement anytime soon does not seem likely, and for that, there are many whose lives will be richer. Happy Birthday, Mr. Landsberger!"
David Kopf is the Editor of HME Business.