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Cecile Corral

Tom and John Return to Rugs

After a three-year absence from the home textiles industry, former Lacey Mills partial owners Tom Etheridge and John Hale are back in the rug business.

"The team is back," Hale told HTT.

From 2000 to 2004, Etheridge and Hale were partners of the now-defunct domestic and import bath and accent rug company; in May 2005, Lacey was sold to Bacova Guild.

After recently fulfilling a non-compete agreement, this duo is now stepping back into the business, albeit with a more global perspective.

They've set up a marketing firm here they call Etheridge & Hale that concentrates on home textiles product design and import logistics.

"We can provide the customer with very cost effective fashion-forward designs catered to the U.S. market while helping to alleviate many of the communication issues that buyers often encounter dealing directly with importers." said Hale.

The company, which officially opened its doors for business Jan. 30, currently services exclusively one client, which they declined to name at this time. A major India-based manufacturer of natural and synthetic fiber bath rugs, accent rugs and high-end hand-hooked and tufted wool rugs recently hired Etheridge & Hale to expand the manufacturer's product presence on U.S. store shelves with private label programs at major North American retail chains.

"We're working with the company to help them design and market to the U.S. consumer," Hale said. "With their labor and our design and market savvy, we offer them a total package — well designed product delivered in a timely manner at a low cost."

Hale said the client's floor covering product offerings are broad: "Everything from latex-backed nylon and handcrafted cotton to high-end wools."

"If we didn't have the competitive advantage we do, we wouldn't come back to this business," Hale remarked.

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