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Kennedy, Longtime Industry Player, Dies


Dallas — Jack Kennedy, whose career in the bedding business spanned three decades, passed away last week at the age of 53 after fighting an illness that first struck his nervous system two years ago.

Graduating in 1973 from the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in economics, Kennedy joined the workforce, selling sales training courses for American Motivational Association.

It was two years later that he forayed into the textiles industry, joining WG Haire & Son Textile Co. He began there as its Southwest area salesman, selling pillows and comforters to regional retailers. He was later promoted to national account manager and then sales manager. During his nine years there, he helped the company reach $25 million in sales.

Then in 1984, he founded his own company — Kentex — as a sales organization selling a variety of home textiles fashion and novelty items for manufacturers and importers, including Springs Ind., Cannon Mills, Pillowtex and Fisher Price. By 1987, he built up the company's sales volume to $9 million, selling to a customer base that included Wal-Mart, JCPenney, Kmart, Target and Pier 1.

Also during this time, Kennedy established a five-store children's clothing chain called Children's Fashion Outlet in Dallas. That operation's second year posted retail sales of $1 million.

In 1990, Kennedy sold his children's clothing store chain to concentrate again on his home textiles business. Two years later, he established a manufacturing operation to produce a line of college logo pillows as well as do contract work. His customer base for this endeavor included JCPenney, Pier 1, Peacock Alley and Audrey Designer Collection.

Today, the company manufacturers and supplies sports-themed bedding, featuring licensed logos of the NFL, MLB and college teams.

“He was definitely a people person, and was very well known in the industry as someone with a lot of humor, wit and personality,” said Ricardo Shultz, co-owner of Kentex and Kennedy's business partner since 1990. “He was a real go-getter and he had many, many friends in this industry.”

Added Mike Freeman, a longtime friend and colleague: “He was an active, jovial all-around good guy, the type of person who, when he walks in the room, everyone wants to be around. No matter where he went, he knew people there. And his nature certainly helped him in his career. He built up his company from nothing to what it is today, a very successful business.”

Kennedy leaves behind his wife, Terri, and their two daughters. His funeral took place last week at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas.


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