January 9, 2017
Harold "Hal" Alden, a pioneer in home textiles sourcing, who founded and built Brentwood Originals into the largest decorative pillow supplier in the business, died on Saturday after a lengthy illness. He was 89.
Alden founded Brentwood in 1958 and ran it for more than 40 years before turning over the reins to current president Loren Sweet in 2002. While building Brentwood into a pillow powerhouse which has had as much as 70 percent market share in the category, Alden was also one of the most aggressive and assertive suppliers in the industry when it came to importing from Asia. First working with Japan, then India and then later with China, Alden helped to develop the sourcing models and techniques that have become standard in the business.
It was in the early 1970s as the Nixon Administration was opening relations with China, he petitioned the country for a visa even before trade relations were officially established. He was part of the first American Business Delegation invited to China. The Company called him an "extraordinary visionary, imagining a new way of doing Business without borders."
While Alden left day-to-day management of Brentwood, he always stayed involved in the business, said Sweet. In a statement the company put out in announcing his passing, Brentwood said, "Hal provided a living for thousands of families both at Brentwood and abroad and in many cases for multiple generations. It is a large and extended family made closer by the qualities he instilled in us and the character he stood for.
"We will miss his vision, his friendship, his stewardship and his smile. We are grateful for what he brought into our lives. Our hearts are with his family."
Funeral services were private and he is survived by his wife Geri, sons David and Tony, daughter Tracy, seven grandchildren and one great grandchild. Donations may be made in his name to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.