Robert Levin, former CEO of Levin Furniture, has made good on his pledge to support the nearly 1,200 former employees of his family’s furniture business. Last week, he sent checks for more than $1,500 to eligible Pennsylvania employees of Levin’s Furniture and Wolf Furniture, along with a letter, reported the Tribune-Review.
“I’m sorry I haven’t been able to reach out to you sooner,” Levin wrote in the April 23 letter. “I can’t express how heartbroken I am for the disappointment that occurred when I was unable to buy back the company.
“My motivation to rescue the business was based on my concern for you and for the customers that have supported us all for many years,” the letter continued. “When I was informed that the stores were closing, and the sale was off because of issues with lenders and the pandemic, I felt that our hopes had been swept away.”
After a deal to buy back Levin Furniture from Art Van Furniture, LLC, the business’ parent company, and the Pennsylvania Wolf Furniture stores, was terminated, Levin disseminated a March 20 statement indicating his intention to create a $2 million fund, available for grants and loans to Levin and Wolf employees for defraying health care costs.
Given many former employees’ current fiscal needs, however, Levin revised the plan and distributed money following a personal gift to the Howard Levin Memorial Fund.
“This gift from me is tax free and does not need to be paid back. Please use it for health care premiums or for any expenses or needs you may have,” Levin wrote.
Supporting former staff was an impetus for Levin’s attempt to buy back the company his grandparents founded nearly a century ago, he told the Chronicle in March.
“It’s really the job preservation,” Levin said. “That would have been horrible to see it just shut down and see everybody out of work. We have employees that work for the company, who are still in their 50s, who started in high school. These are people who have worked for us for 35 years.”
Levin reiterated his appreciation for former employees in last week’s letter: “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the understanding and support that I’ve received from many of you. Although I haven’t been able to respond individually, I have been profoundly moved and humbled by it. Until I can reach out to you again, I want to wish you and your family health, safety and all the best during this very difficult time.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.