Caliendo concludes four decades with Lorraine
May 24, 2004,
Nick Caliendo, whose career in the window coverings industry has spanned 48 years — almost 40 of which were spent helping to build Lorraine Home Fashions — is retiring at the end of this month "to smell the flowers in my later years and enjoy my free time with my loving wife and family," he said.
Caliendo began his career in 1956, working as a trainee for then-department store Abraham and Strauss, while still going to college at night. He was a window coverings assistant buyer there in 1961 when he left to become a buyer for then-retail chain Shopper's World.
He switched to the supplier side of the window covering business on April 25, 1965 — the day he joined Suzy Curtain, the then-one-year-old company formed by husband-and-wife team Bernard and Lorraine Rittenberg.
"Back then, it was just the three of us, plus a receptionist," Caliendo said. "I worked in all aspects — the showroom, stocking, clerical — it's the way we've always run this company. Everyone is involved in everything. Even to this day, we do have titles, but we really don't use them."
The Rittenbergs expanded their company in the early 1970s to include a newly formed division, Lorraine Home Fashions, created to offer upscale priced goods made for department store customers. Suzy Curtain served retailers selling more popular price points.
About a decade later, Rittenberg negotiated exclusive rights to manufacture and distribute in the United States window coverings and related home textiles made in, and imported from, China — which resulted in the birth of Lorraine Home Fashions of China.
Then in the early 1990s, the company sold Suzy Curtain, "to focus on the successes of Lorraine Home Fashions of China," Caliendo said. Today, the company is a supplier of not only window treatments but also shower curtains, bed coverings and bed ruffles, serving all levels of retail from mass to department stores.
"Over the past 40 years, not only did I have a wonderful and challenging business relationship, but quite literally I saw Bernard and Lorraine (Rittenberg) as a mother and father," Caliendo said. "We are exceptionally close and dedicated to each other."