Alfred M. Zeien of Boston, MA; Woods Hole, MA and Naples, FL passed away on February 18, 2019 at the age of 88. Al was born on February 25, 1930 and grew up with his brother, Charles, in Jackson Heights, NY, sons of immigrant parents who spoke four languages. Being multi-lingual and having the ability to work with one’s hands were requirements in the Zeien household. Al’s performance throughout his school years was outstanding. He graduated with full scholarship offers from Harvard and MIT, but chose to continue his studies at Webb Institute of Naval Architecture, one of only 16 admitted to his class out of 800 applicants, and one of only 9 to complete the rigorous program to become a naval architect.
After Webb, Al went to work with a small company building minesweepers for the Korean War. It was during this time that Al married Joyce Lawrence whom he had dated throughout his years at Webb. He and Joyce moved to Boston, and Al attended Harvard Business School, graduating with his MBA in 1955.
Al then joined the General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, CT as Chief Estimator. At age 28 he became Sales Manager, representing Electric Boat in negotiating all submarine contracts with the U.S. Navy. At 33, Al moved to General Dynamics’ Manhattan headquarters, in charge of mergers and acquisitions and, a year later, was promoted again to General Dynamics’ Quincy Shipyard as Head of Operations with 8,000 employees.
In 1968 the Gillette Company bought Braun A.G. and recruited Al as its General Manager. Al and Joyce moved to Germany with their two sons and one daughter. In 1973, Al returned to Boston as Group VP in Gillette’s Diversified Companies operation. A year later it was back to Germany as Chairman of Braun to stem red ink there, and then back, again, to Boston in 1978 as Senior VP for Technical Operations. Al retooled Gillette’s South Boston plant, doubling output, and played a pivotal role in developing the Sensor brand of razors. He was subsequently elected Vice Chairman for Technical Operations and New Business Development, Vice Chairman of the International and Diversified divisions and, in 1991, Chairman and CEO of Gillette.
Under Al’s leadership, Gillette embarked upon a mission to achieve or enhance clear leadership, worldwide, in the consumer product categories in which Gillette chose to compete. In addition to the earlier acquisition of Oral-B, Gillette expanded through the purchase of Parker Pen and Duracell and dominated global markets, with more than 80% of the company’s sales coming from products that were worldwide leaders in their categories. When Al stepped down as Chairman in 1999, he had set the stage for the company’s further growth in India, China and Russia.
Al served on the boards of many companies and institutions, including Bank of Boston, EMC, Inverness Medical Innovations, Mass Mutual Life, Polaroid, Raytheon, the Boston Museum of Science, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Marine Biological Laboratory, and as Chairman of the World Affairs Council of Boston.
Al was supported throughout his career by Joyce, his beloved wife of 64 years who passed away in 2017. He is survived by two sons: Scott and his wife Lisa of Falmouth, MA; Grey and his wife Sharon of Cold Spring, NY; daughter Claudia Zeien of Ft. Lauderdale, FL; grandchildren Christopher Zeien and his wife Lynn; Russell Zeien and his wife Emily; Kendra Zeien; Nicole Zeien; Ryan Zeien; and great grandson Oliver Zeien.
“The Best a Man Can Get.”
A celebration of Al’s life will be held at 11:00AM on Saturday, March 30 at Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, 475 Main St in Falmouth. Burial services will be private. Those who wish to remember Al in a special way are invited to make a gift to Cape Cod Health Care for Falmouth Hospital, P.O. Box 370, Hyannis, MA 02601.