Israeli Industrialist Dov Lautman Dies at 77

Lautman, a 2007 recipient of the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement, was founder and owner of Delta Galil Industries.

Israeli industrialist Dov Lautman died at 77 Saturday morning. Lautman, a 2007 recipient of the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement, was founder and owner of Delta Galil Industries. He suffered from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

He was the head of the Israel Manufacturers Association from 1986-1993, and served as the prime minister's special representative in charge of advancement of foreign investment and economic development from 1993-1995.

Lautman was born in Tel Aviv in 1936. After completing his military service he traveled to the United States and studied engineering at MIT. When he received his degree he started working as a manager at a brush factory in Long Island. Two years later, he returned to Israel, and looked for employment.

In Israel, Lautman met Gershon Rosov, owner of the textile company Sabrina, the two became friends and Lautman was appointed the company's CEO. He was only 27.

In 1967, Lautman founded Gibor, a textile company in Kiriyat Shmona, with the backing of a French investor. The factory quickly became the biggest employer in the city. "We opened workshops in Arab and Druze villages in northern Israel, and were the first to establish modern factories in these sectors," Lautman once said.

Eight years later, he went on to establish the Delta underwear factory in Karmiel. The company which started off with just a few hundred workers in 1975, turned into one of the biggest companies in international undergarment industry, with an annual turnaround of $700 million.

Delta was the first traditional industry in the country to become a global manufacturer. It also served as a bridge of peace to Jordan and Egypt by setting up cooperative ventures, while other enterprises continued to ask the government for help.

During the 1980s Lautman became the chairman of the Israel Manufacturers Association. "At the time, the Israel Manufacturers Association was involved in making economic decisions for the Israeli economy, and the position required a lot of political involvement," Lautman recalled. "I tried to encourage investment in research and development in order to foster entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as, encourage industry's involvement in activities that benefited society."

In recent years he took part in public works and education. Among these he was one of the founders of Dor Shalom, the Rabin Center, and the Peres Peace Center and more.

Reli Avrahami