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Obituary: Entrepreneur Brian Zientek

LOS ANGELES — Brian Joseph Zientek, a swimwear entrepreneur who helped expand the scope of that industry, died after suffering a heart attack last Saturday. He was 51.<br><br>Tall and athletic, Zientek was a sports enthusiast, hooked on cycling,...

LOS ANGELES — Brian Joseph Zientek, a swimwear entrepreneur who helped expand the scope of that industry, died after suffering a heart attack last Saturday. He was 51.

Tall and athletic, Zientek was a sports enthusiast, hooked on cycling, sportfishing and hunting. His death occurred just hours after he had completed a 70-mile bike ride from the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Calif., to the Aurora Grande.

Zientek’s career spanned positions from company founder to crisis manager. He cofounded Beach Patrol Inc. in the early Eighties, creating a misses’ and juniors’ swimwear firm when most manufacturers hadn’t yet identified the teen category.

“Vision was his specialty — he was at the forefront of the juniors’ swimwear business,” said Ilse Metchek, executive director of the California Fashion Association.

He served as director of production at Patagonia, and then bankrupt Sirena Apparel Group Inc. tapped him in February 2000 as chief executive officer. His initiatives to reinvigorate design, revamp operating expenses and give Sirena a more focused point of view helped the company emerge from bankruptcy five months later.

Most recently, he was a partner of Zen Investments LLC, a garment industry consulting firm he helped found nearly two years ago.

Born outside of Vancouver, Zientek graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. He is survived by his wife, Geraldine, who is a special education teacher, and two sons, Adam and Neil.

Donations may be made in care of the Brian J. Zientek Memorial Endowed Scholarship. They may be sent to the Educational Foundation of the Fashion Industries, Fashion Institute of Technology, Seventh Avenue at 27th Street, Room C204, New York, NY 10001.