Saul Ashkenazi, Founder of SDI, Dead At 91


Rahway, N.J. - Saul E. Ashkenazi, founder of SDI Technologies and its affiliates, KIDdesigns and HTI Industries, died last month at the age of 91.

Ashkenazi co-founded SDI Technologies in 1956 under its original name, Realtone Electronics, which later became Soundesign in 1968. He served the company as chairman and CEO from 1956-1985, and as chairman of the Executive Committee from 1986-2010.

Under Ashkenazi's leadership the company introduced several new product categories, including one of the world's first pocket transistor radios, audio rack system, and the combination telephone/clock radio, SDI said in a statement.

Ashkenazi, with his brother Ely, also took the company public twice to support its growth initiatives, and its stock was one of the most active of its era, with four public offerings, three stock splits, and quarterly dividends.

In 1994, Ashkenazi, along with his brother Ely, was an honoree at the Consumer Electronics Association's 50th Anniversary for his historic achievements in the CE industry.  Today, SDI has a leading market share position in the iPod/iPhone/iPad audio electronics market under the iHome brand. 

Ashkenazi was also involved in numerous charities. He was a key donor to launch Yeshiva University's scholarship fund, was a co-founder of the Jewish Communal Fund, and introduced Israeli Bonds into the local New York and New Jersey Jewish communities. 

He also purchased and donated 56 acres of land in New Jersey, where the Hillel Yeshiva preschool, elementary, and high schools now stand, and in subsequent years he raised tens of millions of dollars for new buildings and scholarship funds.

Ashkenazi was the architect for the Ohel Yaacob Synagogue of Deal, N.J., and the Shaare Zion Synagogue building expansion of Brooklyn, N.Y. 

He is survived by his wife Sally, whom he was married to for close to 60 years; his son Ezra, the current president and CEO of SDI; daughters Carol, Joyce and Lisa; brother Ely, presently the chairman of the executive committee of SDI; sisters Sara, Julie and Ruth; and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


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