Celebrating Our 85th With Friends
In honor of our 85th anniversary, LDB Interior Textiles asked industry friends to share what they enjoy about the field, and what has or hasn’t changed.
Mary Ella Gabler, founder, Peacock Alley, formally entered home textiles in 1972, establishing Peacock Alley in 1973.
“When I entered the industry, the business was dominated by men and domestic mills that sold bedding, sheets in particular, as utilitarian products,” she explains. “However, I knew that most of our buyers were women and they were responding to a more feminine touch with the introduction of bedskirts, shams and decorative pillows. Today, the industry has changed for the better with so many choices, but my drive and vision have always remained the same.
“The most dramatic change over the years has been the introduction of the internet,” Gabler notes. “Information is instantaneous and always accessible, which is extremely beneficial in so many ways.”
Arthur Tauber, chairman, Avanti Linens, began working in a monogramming factory after college graduation in 1959. He founded Avanti Linens in 1969.
“I have loved eveything about the home textiles field. I’ve had a chance to grow a business from scratch working with my family—first with my wife and later alongside both of my sons. I’ve met so many terrific people, whether employees, customers, reps or fellow vendors and have developed lasting friendships with many of them. I love that our industry is respected for its honesty and creativity,” Tauber says. “The technology has changed dramatically. In 1969, there were no computers. Each towel was embroidered one piece at a time.
Today we can produce more than 5,000 perfectly sewn towels on our machines in a day.”
Richard Roman, president and ceo, Revman International, entered the home textiles field in 1975 and founded Revman in 1988.
“I like the creativity and the strategy involved in developing and marketing products. Since I’m the founder of Revman, I enjoy the pride of authorship and I’m proud of the success we continue to have.” Regarding changes in the field, Roman says, “When I started in the business, almost all home textiles were manufactured in the United States. Now, very little is done here.”
Rae Ellen Blum, vice-president marketing-sales, Espalma/Cobra/Lintex, entered home textiles in 1977 and began working with Espalma/Cobra/Lintex in 1985.
“What hasn’t change is creating an item, getting an order and the follow through from start to finish,” says Blum, who adds that lamented changes over time include fewer stores, more paperwork, more technical details, the constant change of buyers and the lack of relationships with them.
Keith Sorgeloos, president/ceo, Home Source International, Inc. and president, Home Fashion Products Association, worked in retail from 1973 and in home textiles from 1977. He established Home Source International in 2000.
“Home textiles is a family oriented industry. Yes, it is competitive, but all the companies and personnel compete in a friendly way and I have established many friendships over the past 35 years,” he says. “The single greatest change was the paradigm shift to offshore manufacturing that caused a lot of folks to lose their jobs, but today it seems manufacturing is coming back to the U.S. in some areas, albeit as hybrid manufacturing. Our company believes in U.S. hybrid manufacturing based on the initiatives we are currently undertaking.”
Randy Wright, senior vice-president, Taymor Industries, Inc., worked in the kitchen/bath design and giftware areas before coming to Taymor in 1990.
“Taymor at the time had no product for the home textiles industry, so we started with me and three SKUs, and now we have thousands,” says Wright. “I have grown professionally and personally, and developed many close relationships with buyers, fellow vendors, associates and most of them I can call true friends. The drastic industry changes have been the elimination and consolidation of many large retailers. Also price changes for raw materials continue to run in the extreme, like the stock market. But it’s not a ‘job’ for me. I enjoy it, I laugh, I scream, I panic, and in the end, I am in love with it all and feel blessed to be in this wonderful industry.”