Louis Applebaum, 75, of Langhorne, a business owner who was procurement commissioner for the City of Philadelphia for 10 years, died of lymphoma Friday, Jan. 13, at home.

In 1991, newly elected Mayor Ed Rendell asked Mr. Applebaum for a one-year commitment to public service as procurement commissioner.

Mr. Applebaum, who had recently retired as head of a furniture and office-supply company, agreed to take the job. The one-year commitment turned into 10 years, covering Rendell's eight years in office and two years of John F. Street's administration.

When he took office, Rendell recalled, "the deficit was $250 million. Bringing in the business people like Louis Applebaum was central to what we had to do. In 18 months, we produced a balanced budget."

"Procurement had a reputation for being corrupt and disorganized. Lou turned it around with his incredible integrity and administrative ability. His purchasing reforms and practices led to reduced payment for goods and services," Rendell said. "Lou was a delight to work with. He had a smile that could light up a room, and he had a great sense of humor."

As procurement commissioner, Mr. Applebaum implemented Rendell's campaign pledge to privatize some city services, including hiring a cleaning service for City Hall and a security company to provide guards at the Art Museum.

In November 2001, when he announced plans to resign, Mr. Applebaum told The Inquirer: "We reorganized the Procurement Department; we fully computerized it. Took an old, slow-moving process and modernized it to where all of our bids appear on the Web."

"Lou did a spectacular job. He reinvented the procurement function to make government massively more efficient," said David L. Cohen, who was Rendell's chief of staff.

Before joining city government, Mr. Applebaum had been controller, vice president, and then owner of A. Pomerantz & Co., a Philadelphia-based office furniture and supply distributor and retailer. Mr. Applebaum was the No. 2 man in the family-run firm in 1982 when company president Lester Pomerantz was killed with his wife in an auto accident in Yugoslavia.

Mr. Applebaum later told The Inquirer that, with the Pomerantz family's blessing, he took over that night, working through shock and sadness to save the business and the jobs of hundreds of employees.

He started by meeting with employees to reassure them the firm would continue and communicated the same message to far-flung offices. Then, he told The Inquirer in 2007, he assured suppliers and customers that it would be "business as usual."

Mr. Applebaum became the sole owner of A. Pomerantz in 1983. After presiding over significant growth, he sold the business to investors in 1988 but continued to manage the firm until retiring in 1990.

In recent years, he was a business consultant and served on several boards, including those of the Variety Club of Philadelphia, the Ocean Club Condominium Association in Atlantic City, and the Villages of Flowers Mill Homeowners' Association in Langhorne. He was a founder and served on the board of Congregation Ner Zedek-Ezrath Israel-Beth Uziel in Northeast Philadelphia.

The son of a bookbinder, Mr. Applebaum grew up in Strawberry Mansion and Northeast Philadelphia. He graduated from Lincoln High School, where he met his future wife, Arlene Leonard.

He earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from Temple University and then was a certified public accountant for accounting firms in Philadelphia before joining A. Pomerantz in the early 1970s.

His varied interests included photography, computers, travel, and Eagles football. He was a season-ticket holder for more than 35 years.

Mr. Applebaum, whose grandparents emigrated from Russia to Atlantic City, worked summers in the resort while in school, his son Scott said, and once swam around the Steel Pier. In his later years, his greatest pleasure was spending time with his grandchildren at his apartment in Atlantic City, playing on the beach and in the ocean.

In addition to his wife of 55 years and son, Mr. Applebaum is survived by sons Gary and Richard; a brother; and seven grandchildren.

A funeral is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15, at Goldsteins' Rosenberg's Raphael-Sacks, 310 Second Street Pike, Southampton. Burial will be in Shalom Memorial Park, Huntingdon Valley.