Former TRSA Chair Larry Steiner Passes Away
In 2011, (l/r) TRSA Chair Woody Ostrow, CleanCare; Pat Dempsey, Dempsey Uniform & Linen Supply; and Larry Steiner, AmeriPride Services Inc. Dempsey and Steiner both were named that year as winners of TRSA's Operator Lifetime Achievement Award
Larry Steiner, 78, a family owner, board member and former president and CEO of AmeriPride Services Inc., and top elected leader of TRSA, recently passed away, according to a news release from the company based in Minnetonka, MN.
“Larry Steiner was a giant in the industry,” said Bill Evans, current president and CEO of AmeriPride. “His willingness to adapt and change over time led to many company transformations, including org-structure changes, a more advanced strategic-planning process and the incorporation of computers and new technology into the business. He also was a key proponent of hiring me as the first nonfamily CEO in the company’s history.”
TRSA President and CEO Joseph Ricci noted that Steiner’s sense of teamwork benefitted both the industry and his company. “Recently as a recipient of the TRSA Operator Lifetime Achievement Award and again as a conference panelist, Larry credited his recognition to the efforts of the people around him. His ‘family’ approach to building a corporate culture continues to contribute to AmeriPride's success.”
Steiner’s brother and successor, Bruce Steiner, added that Larry was a knowledgeable leader and personal adviser. “There are few that knew as much about our company and our industry than my brother Larry,” said Bruce, former president and CEO, family owner and current co-chair of the board of directors at AmeriPride. “He was a good role model and mentor to me as I learned the industry, and his counsel and support was instrumental to my own success when I took the reigns as president and CEO.”
Tony Richman, who served with Larry as vice president of TRSA (now vice chairman), also recalled him as a steady, capable executive. “I’ll remember most his quiet confident demeanor, said Richman, now a retired executive of a family textile service business in Los Angeles. “Larry was president (now called chairman) of TRSA in 1991-’93 and I was his vice president. I found Larry focused, controlled, and unlike me, never angry. I was the sail. But Larry was the rudder.”
Another contemporary, John Sutherland, now a senior vice president of U.S. operations at AmeriPride, said, “I knew Larry Steiner as a colleague and friend for more than 30 years. He was a strong and steadfast leader that really cared about the people he worked with. The employees of the company were like his family and he treated them as such. I know he will be sorely missed by everyone here.”
Larry’s nephew, Andrew Steiner, now senior vice president of Canadian operations and a family owner at AmeriPride, said Larry was a proud and progressive leader of the family business. “My uncle Larry was a thoughtful, pragmatic man, Andrew said. “He was a quiet innovator that helped propel our company and industry forward through the adoption of new technologies and advanced processes. The reputation of our industry and our family legacy was always a priority for him throughout his career.”
Longtime TRSA Counsel Steve Fellman said Larry was widely admired. “Larry was a real gentleman,” Fellman said. “He was a great listener and had the ability to create a consensus in difficult situations. He was a man who everyone respected – both as an executive running a major company and as a friend.” Roger Cocivera, a former executive of Penn Linen and of TRSA, recalled Larry’s gift for personal relationships. “Larry taught me the power of treating people properly and instilling trust and honesty in dealing with your people. He was a great leader.”
Larry was the grandson of company co-founder Frank Steiner and a third-generation family owner of the company. He began his career with American Linen in 1965 and served the organization for more than 50 years. He held various positions in the company, including plant manager and district manager. He joined the board of directors in 1984 and became president and chairman in 1992. He retired in 2003, but continued to serve on the board of directors until his death on March 21.
Larry earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Trinity College in Hartford, CT, and was an officer in the U.S. Navy. He began working for his father in the company after his tour of duty.
Larry also had a long history of industry and community involvement. He was active in TRSA, including service as president. In 2011, he received TRSA’s Textile Service Operator Lifetime Achievement Award, the association’s top recognition for laundry executives.
Other volunteer efforts included work with the Boy Scouts of America, the Humane Society, Children’s Hospital and many other local charities. Most recently he endowed the Steiner Family Scholarship which awards up to 12 scholarships per year to children of company employees. Click here to learn more.