Business & Professional
While on the boat that was carrying him at the age of 12 from Poland to the United States, Jacob Leon Brenn was trying to learn the language of his new home. He landed in Chicago, where he spent the rest of life learning, even after founding Huntington Laboratories, an anchor company in Huntington for decades.
Not satisfied with just learning English, Brenn was a master of three languages. He attended Valparaiso University, Armour Institute and Chicago Business College, where he graduated in 1915.
In 1920, Brenn and his wife, Fannie, came to Huntington. They purchased the old Huntington Brewery building and began making soap in the vats. Eventually, Huntington Laboratories expanded to four sites producing maintenance and sanitary products for schools and hospitals. Among its many innovations, Huntington Laboratories developed a varnish for wood floors that eventually covered most college and high school gymnasium floors in Indiana.
Brenn was also a civic leader, serving as president of the Huntington County Chamber of Commerce.
He served in leadership roles with the Huntington YMCA, the Huntington College Foundation and Huntington Rotary Club, where he was District Governor of Rotary International for northern Indiana. He was named to President Eisenhower’s Committee on Occupational Hazards. Brenn served on the Huntington School board from 1931-35 and was active in his synagogue, the Reformed Jewish Temple in Fort Wayne.
Known for his wealth of knowledge and personality, Brenn was sought-after as a public speaker. Huntington Laboratories, now known as Eco-Lab, continued to be family-run after Brenn’s death on January 21, 1967, by his son, Earl Brenn, and son-in-law Hy Goldenberg.