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Revere Mills Marks Nine Decades

Revere Mills International Group has "come a long way" since its early days selling general merchandise and laundry replacements to installment dealers.

As Lori Kite Gideon retells the story that she was told growing up, her grandfather and the company founder, Morris Kite, took his horse and wagon to the train station regularly to pick up the merchandise. Among the goods were textiles, which in those days — circa 1916 — came only in white and were packaged in wooden crates.

"We've come a long way," she said.

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the four-generation company. While the first two generations — father and son Morris and Eugene Kite — have since passed, Gideon and her oldest child and daughter, Dana, still operate Revere.

Despite the many evolutions home textiles has taken since Revere started, and no matter what might happen next, Gideon said she is optimistic about the industry's future and what her daughter has to look forward to in her career.

"I see it as very challenging — this is a very exciting time for home textiles," said Gideon, who joined the company in 1971. Dana joined in 2003 after graduating from college.

"I feel very proud of my family roots and where it has taken this business, and about how we have adapted, evolved and survived," Gideon continued. "We work very hard to stay true to our motto — we ship what we show. And that is how I feel. I'm very proud and very optimistic about the future."

For this anniversary and milestone for Revere — originally dubbed Kite and Kite Textile Co. — the company has revamped its longtime New York showroom on the seventh floor of 295 Fifth Ave. It has also updated its bath towel and kitchen textiles lines for this market.

Jeff Gregg, senior vp, sales and marketing, outlined the introductions. In kitchen textiles, Revere is adding a solid-colored yarn-dyed collection for the first time. Each towel set will retail for $2.99.

"We're going after higher quality, more updated color, and upscale looks, but still at a value price," Gregg said.

The same is true in bath towels, where Revere is poised to serve three levels of retail. There is a new line of promotional goods, available in packs of solids, jacquards and stripes. They are: two-pack bath towels, four-pack hand towels and six-pack washcloths. The two-pack bath towels are set at a $6 retail price point.

For mid-level retailers, there are new Egyptian cotton and Pima cotton towels priced from $7.99 to $9.99.

And for specialty and higher-end stores, there is a new Supima towel collection as well as a reversible group, called Seasons, which is a two-tone towel with a dobbie border, and alternating color schemes on either side. It will retail for $12.99 to $14.99.

When it was first established, Revere distributed not only home textiles but general merchandise, including toys and clothing.

It was not until around 1938 when Eugene became "an integral part of the company's future," that the focus shifted to home textiles, repositioning Revere as a distributor for U.S. mills, mostly Cannon.

"The focus became textiles when my father became involved," Gideon said. "It was his vision for the future. He saw an opportunity for us. In fact, I think we were one of the first to sell banded backs, and they retailed for $1."

She said that what began as a temporary position, to help her grandfather out, evolved into a career that her father loved. "He had foresight that the future and success of Kite and Kite was to sell to major retailers across the U.S., getting away from the installment dealer/laundry replacement business."

Importing has been a practice for Revere for the past 20 years. The company sources mainly from Pakistan but also from India, China, and Turkey.

It made a major move in that direction in 2004 when it formed a partnership with two of its primary manufacturers from Pakistan. Khalid Iqbal of Regal Textiles and Afaq Khan of Eastern Textiles became partners in Revere, prompting a company name change to Revere Mills International Group Inc. The board of directors includes Gideon, Iqbal, Khan, and John Vanden Berge, president.

Also during that year, Revere relocated its headquarters from Niles, Ill., to a larger and updated facility here in Des Plaines, Ill.

Today, the company offers more than 30 bath ensemble collections to serve dollar stores to high-end department stores. "We have the category pretty well covered," Gideon said.

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