Meyer Laskin, 84, of Philadelphia, a former executive at MacAndrews & Forbes Co. in Camden who traveled all over the world in search of licorice root, died of respiratory failure on Tuesday, Nov. 30, at Penn Hospice in Philadelphia.
As president of what is now MAFCO Worldwide Corp., a subdivision of MacAndrews & Forbes Co., Mr. Laskin oversaw the operations of the licorice-extract manufacturing company based in Camden.
He traveled throughout Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, finding the best sources of licorice root and making partnerships with factories abroad to mass produce it, his family said.
"He loved to negotiate," said his son David. "He saw it as kind of a game."
Mr. Laskin had a second office in England and was also in charge of overseeing a licorice factory in Gardanne, France.
The licorice root would be shipped to the Camden headquarters, where it was ground and boiled to produce extract. The product was sold mostly to tobacco companies but also to a few candy companies.
After more than 15 years running the licorice business, Mr. Laskin retired in 1995.
He and his wife, Leona, built a vacation home in Lake Placid, N.Y., and spent a lot of time there, developing a small family-owned timber business, Laskin Forest Properties.
"He loved the outdoors," his son said. "It was kind of a business but also more of a hobby."
Mr. Laskin was born and raised in the Bronx and graduated from James Monroe High School in 1944.
He enlisted in the Navy and served as a seaman during World War II aboard the USS Mattaponi. Mr. Laskin was discharged in 1946 and entered State College of Forestry at Syracuse University.
In 1948, he married Leona Cohen, a Syracuse medical student whom he met at the university.
After graduating from Syracuse in 1949, Mr. Laskin worked at a large wholesale and retail jewelry firm in New York City for many years.
In the late 1970s, financier Ronald Perelman acquired Cohen-Hatfield Industries, the jewelry firm where Mr. Laskin had been working.
With some management changes, Mr. Laskin was asked to head Perelman's other recent acquisition in Camden, MacAndrews & Forbes, which was then just the licorice-extract company. The name later was used as the umbrella for various Perelman enterprises, and the licorice company became MAFCO Worldwide.
In addition to his wife and son David, Mr. Laskin is survived by sons Robert, Daniel, and Jonathan; seven grandchildren; and a sister.
Services will be private.