Hard work and the desire to lend a helping hand. I.D. Blumenthal’s life was a testament to both. Born in New York City in 1894, and raised in Savannah, Georgia, he was the eldest child of Samuel and Fannie Blumenthal, who immigrated from Lithuania and the Ukraine to America to escape poverty and religious persecution. Samuel and Fannie’s work ethic, their commitment to civic affairs, and their tolerance for all faiths — though they, themselves were Orthodox Jews — left an indelible impression on their son.

After studying forestry at the University of Georgia, I.D. served in the Army in World War I before returning to Savannah where he entered into a five-year partnership with his father at the Blumenthal Five and Dime. As the store prospered, I.D. honed his marketing skills and innate sales abilities.

In 1924, he struck out on his own as a traveling salesman. With scarcely enough in his pocket to get him from one town to the next, I.D. was passing through Charlotte, North Carolina, when his car experienced a leaky radiator. Taking it to a tinsmith by the name of G. G. Ray, he was astounded when the man sealed the leak by pouring a powder into the radiator. According to Mr. Ray, the powder known as Solder Seal was an invention of his own making, but no longer available due to his company’s inability to market it.

So certain was he that Solder Seal could be marketed effectively, I.D. convinced Mr. Ray to enter into a partnership with him. In the years that followed, I.D. took the product on the road, demonstrated it in town squares, at corner gas stations, anywhere he might attract a group of people. Before long, the groups multiplied into crowds. The orders multiplied from a few individual tubes to major shipments bound for automotive repair companies.

At Radiator Specialty Company, the division Mr. Ray created expressly for the manufacture of Solder Seal, profits were multiplying as well. Realizing that continued growth demanded more than one item, I.D., who was promoted to sales manager began expanding Radiator Specialty’s product line. The next logical step was to create a powder capable of stopping leaks in heating boilers in apartments and factories. Solder Seal Boiler Repair joined the ever growing ranks of Solder Seal products, including Radiator Anti-Rust, Powder Block Seal, and Liquid Radiator Repair.

In 1933, I.D. acquired the Golden State Rubber Mills in Los Angeles, a move that brought Golden State Faucet Washers and Triple Seal Tank Balls into the fold. By 1934, I.D. was sole owner of Radiator Specialty Company, and in 1937 moved its headquarters into a renovated cotton mill. During World War II, the company focused its entire production towards the war effort. Almost all B-24’s and B-25’s contained rubber parts made by Radiator Specialty.

The postwar years brought continued growth. When the California rubber plant was brought to the Carolinas, so was I.D.’s brother, Herman, who had managed the Los Angeles facility. It was then that Radiator Specialty began to assume the mantle of a family-owned business, with both brothers endeavoring to ensure its continued success. An association with Gunk Laboratories, construction of a new rubber mill, and completion of a manufacturing plant in Toronto, Canada, all contributed to the company’s increased growth. Today, Alan Blumenthal serves as Chairman of the board.

From humble beginnings, Radiator Specialty Company has evolved into a major aftermarket chemicals supplier.

 

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I.D. Blumenthal’s vision wasn’t limited to corporate earnings.  Like his father before him, he devoted himself to brotherhood as diligently as he did to business affairs.  With Herman helping with the day-to-day operations of Radiator Specialty, I. D. was able to focus his attention on a partnership of a different sort—a partnership with people, not only in the city he loved, but throughout the Carolinas and the South.

Indeed, many of the projects he implemented have influenced lives across the nation and throughout the world.

Raised in a strictly Orthodox Jewish home, I. D. was a profoundly religious man.  He promoted the founding of two Jewish Day Schools and contributed to the building of new synagogues and revitalization projects for many older houses of worship throughout the Carolinas.  He served as President of the North Carolina Association of Jewish Men, and created the Circuit Riding Rabbi Project, a “traveling synagogue” designed to provide for the spiritual needs of Jewish residents in communities too isolated to have an organized congregation of their own.

A man who preferred to focus on helping individuals, I. D. was among a small group of people who recognized a need for quality care for the elderly.  In October 1962, the Blumenthal Jewish Home for the Aged was opened to provide compassionate care and companionship for Jewish residents of North and South Carolina and their families from across the United States.  While the Home in Clemmons not longer exists, the legacy is being carried on by BJH Foundation for Senior Services.  The mission of the Foundation is to provide funding to enhance the lives of Jewish seniors residing in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia in accordance with Jewish values and beliefs.

In 1966, I. D. acquired the American Jewish Times Outlook.  In keeping with the precepts of its original publishers, the “Times Outlook” served as a forum for Jewish communities in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia to express ideas, share ideals, and connect with one another through the written word.  Over the past several years the demographics of the Jewish communities has changed dramatically.  In light of these changes and with the availability of more and more Jewish periodicals and websites, the Blumenthal Foundation made the decision to suspend publication of the magazine effective March 1, 2001.
           
Promoting understanding between people of all faiths was I. D.’s greatest dream. He was actively involved with The National Conference of Christians and Jews and played a key role in bringing Brotherhood Week to the Carolinas.  But it is through Wildacres Retreat, perhaps, that I. D. was able to make the greatest strides in bringing people together.  Unique circumstances allowed him to purchase the mountaintop retreat in 1936.  Together with his wife, Madolyn, and Herman and his wife, Anita, I. D. dedicated Wildacres to the “the betterment of human relations” in 1946.

The Blumenthal Foundation was founded in 1953, a natural extension in implementing I. D.’s vision for harmony among those of differing ideologies and theologies.  It is a family foundation administered by Alan, Philip and Samuel Blumenthal.  Philip Blumenthal serves as the Foundation’s director.

What contributes to its uniqueness is the scope of its grantmaking.  From grass roots efforts to service agencies that operate on a local to global scale, it encourages projects of significance to Charlotte and the state of North Carolina, and supports a wide range of fields, including: Arts and Sciences, Civic and Community, Education, the Environment, Foundation Affiliates, Health and Human Services, Jewish Religious, Religious, and Social Services.

Gradually endowed with the success of Radiator Specialty, the Blumenthal Foundation was awarded a significant portion of I. D.’s estate upon his death in 1978.

Through it, through Radiator Specialty and the efforts of the Blumenthal family,
I. D.’s legacy of hard work and lending a helping hand lives on.

 

 

 

 

The Blumenthal Foundation
P.O. Box 34689
Charlotte, NC 28234
-4689
 
704-688-2305  •  704-688-2301 (FAX)
e-mail: foundation@rscbrands.com

Copyright ©2001  The Blumenthal Foundation. All Rights Reserved