LATICRETE Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Dr. Henry M. Rothberg passed away on March 17, 2014. His long, full and remarkable life ended quietly at his home with family at his side. He was 91 years old.
Dr. Rothberg started LATICRETE International Inc. in 1956 with his wife Lillian, who worked as bookkeeper for the fledgling organization. He successfully ran the organization until 2001 when he became Chairman Emeritus, ceding leadership to his sons Henry and David.
“We are all deeply saddened by the loss of our father and founder,” said David Rothberg, chairman and chief executive officer of LATICRETE. “He was not only our wonderful dad, but also a trailblazing innovator for our industry and an inspiring leader for the employees and associates of LATICRETE worldwide.”
While working as a young man in his family’s South Carolina floor covering installation business, Dr. Rothberg realized that there must be a better way to install ceramic tile. With a background in science and a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of South Carolina, Dr. Rothberg began investigating how synthetic latex technologies could be applied to the concrete industry.
After much effort and time, LATICRETE 4237 Latex Thin-Set Additive was developed and taken to market. For the first time a strong, weather and shock-resistant “thin-bed” mortar could be mixed on-site using equal parts of sand and cement—replacing thick, heavy and labor-intensive mortar bed installations, which had been traditional since ancient times. The new material created by Dr. Rothberg was brought to the market as “LATICRETE,” and as awareness and acceptance of this problem-solving technology increased ceramic tile and stone became much more common choices for flooring and facade installations.
Many other innovations in products, services and marketing followed, and LATICRETE became a global company with a sterling reputation for quality and service. “His innovations and impact on the tile, stone and concrete industries are still felt today,” said Henry Rothberg, senior vice president training. “His developments have left us an incredible legacy and have changed the course of an entire industry by revolutionizing tile and stone installation techniques".
Among the many honorary awards presented to Dr. Rothberg are the Carl V. Cesery Award (Tile Contractors Association of America), the Joe A. Tarver Award for Lifetime Service to the Tile Industry (National Tile Contractors Association) and induction to the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) Hall of Fame.
"For the many long-time employees of LATICRETE, Dr. Rothberg personified the principles that continue to guide our family-owned business to this day" said Ed Metcalf, president North America Division. "Dr. Rothberg always stressed doing the right thing, keeping in mind the long–term value of every relationship, whether with a distributor, contracting firm, employee or vendor. Dr. Rothberg was a generous mentor and true role model, and he will be greatly missed".
Dr. Rothberg is survived by his wife Lillian and their children, Irene, Henry B., Deborah, Celia, Jonathan, Michael and David, as well as his nineteen grandchildren and four great grandchildren. He will be laid to rest on Wednesday March 19, 2014 in New Haven, CT.
An online memorial in remembrance of Dr. Rothberg has been established at http://www.laticrete.com/in_memoriam.aspx should you like to leave your condolences.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: The University of South Carolina Department of Chemical Engineering, 301 Main Street, Columbia, SC 29208 or The American Technion Society (ATS), 55 East 59th Street, New York, NY 10022.