1921 Jacob Widder (center) and colleagues.

The Beginning

Widder Brothers was founded in 1921 for the manufacture and finishing of rayon and silk fabrics for apparel. John, Jacob, and Adolph Widder together established a business whose family ties have maintained the strength, consistency, and longevity of the company. By the early 1940s, Widder Brothers had moved its manufacturing facilities from Brooklyn to Pennsylvania, established offices in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and was selling fabrics directly to department stores and retailers. During the 1940s, John's sons and nephew joined the business, as did Jacob's son Herman, who had graduated from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and served as a U.S. Army captain during World War II. Herman remained with the company for over 50 years, becoming its President and CEO in 1968.

The War Years

During World War II, Widder Brothers became a key supplier to the U.S. military of the silk cloth used in parachutes and cartridge bags. Afterward, we invested significantly in research and development of the cartridge cloth used in artillery ammunition, working closely with the government and several military contractors.

A Business Transformed

Widder Brothers enjoyed continued success and development during the 1960s and 1970s, when Herman Widder took the company in a new direction, continuing the apparel textile segment of the business while expanding production for the increasingly important military market. By the 1980s, Widder Brothers dealt exclusively in the military marketplace, and had expanded globally to become a key supplier for governments in Western Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. During the early 1980s, Herman recognized the need to continue investing in textile technology, and thus hired Isidore Nadel, who had recently retired from the U.S. Army where he led the development of textiles used in weapons. Isidore joined Widder Brothers as a consultant, overseeing its extensive product development, testing, and certification processes.

A New Generation

In 2001, Widder Brothers celebrated 80 years in business. That same year Herman Widder died, passing company ownership and operation to his wife, Ruth, who had joined the company in the early 1980s after a career in financial services and daughter Laurie, who had worked for several years in textiles and for over ten years as a management consultant with Deloitte &Touche Consulting and KPMG. Together, Ruth and Laurie continued Herman's vision of quality and service into the new millennium, with the installation of an information technology infrastructure and extended research and development capabilities. Joined by Dr. Lynnette Widder, Ruth and Herman’s eldest daughter in 2013, the company has expanded its offerings to include engineering and application strategies of textiles for construction, insecticidal, chemical and biological agent-shedding and anti-bacterial/microbial textile treatments. As a Professor of Architecture and Sustainability at Columbia University, Dr. Widder brings a wealth of knowledge to the development efforts of textiles and geo-textiles for construction. While adapting to new and broader challenges, Widder Brothers continues to bring its customers outstanding products and solutions at competitive prices, and will do so for generations to come.