Furniture retailer Hershel Alpert (b. 1932 d. 2010) was a man of many talents. In addition to serving as president and CEO of Alperts Inc., the company he cofounded, Mr. Alpert was an esteemed mentor, consultant and university faculty member.
Mr. Alpert began his career working for Alpert’s Furniture Store, his father’s business in New Bedford, Mass., during college breaks. After serving in the U.S. Army, he returned to later become president of Arlan’s Furniture, a subsidiary of Alpert’s Furniture with stores in Massachusetts, New York and Florida. When his father sold the business in 1972, Mr. Alpert and his brother, Fred, founded Alperts Inc. With very little capital, they opened a furniture showroom and warehouse in a 90,000 sq.-ft. building in Seekonk, Mass., which was sold to General Cinema Corp. Mr. Alpert continued as president, growing the business to 15 stores located in New York, Ohio, Florida and Massachusetts.
In 1985, Mr. Alpert, his brother and merchandiser Burt Tassel bought back three stores, closed two, and expanded the original store to 150,000 square feet. For the next 35 years, as president and CEO, Mr. Alpert implemented innovative ideas and best practices, including computerized bar coding, POS and computer-aided design. The company received both the Brand Names Foundation Retailer of the Year and the Retailers Association of Massachusetts Retailer of the Year awards. In 2007, the partners sold the business to Raymour & Flanigan with the stipulation that its 155 employees would retain their jobs.
Rather than retiring at age 75, he founded Alpert Consulting. A tireless mentor to young people in the industry, he also lectured at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, where he was a faculty member and Senior Executive in Residence.
Mr. Alpert served as president and chairman of the National Home Furnishings Association and its Foundation, and in 2005 was named NHFA Retailer of the Year. He was on the board of the Home Furnishings Association, New England, and in 2009 received its Arthur J. Adelizzi Distinguished Service Award. Mr. Alpert also traveled regularly to Washington to lobby on behalf of the industry and served on the industry board of directors of the City of Hope Hospital in Los Angeles.
Mr. Alpert was a leader in his community, as well, serving on numerous boards, including the Buttonwood Park Zoological Society, the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra and the United Way of Greater New Bedford. He also was a member of the City of New Bedford Industrial Development Financing Authority and the City of New Bedford Airport Commission.