Leadership Changes at Chris Stone

In a major change of management and direction, longtime Chris Stone, Inc. executive Mark Aizawa resigned as president of the vertical domestic textile business, effective last Tuesday, May 27.

Aizawa's resignation followed the departure the previous week of Andrea Bernstein, who served as director of merchandising and marketing for the company, which is a textile dyer, printer and finisher.

Brian Wygle, a professional interim ceo, will head the company as acting ceo as the company begins "an active search" for a new leader, Wygle said, noting, "I have been appointed by the board and I have been a professional interim ceo for 25 years."

At the same time, Jay Swirbul has been named vp of sales and marketing. Swirbul will work out of the company's offices in Florida and North Carolina. For the past six years he has been the company's sales representative in the Southeast.

Wygle, who has been retained by the board since March, told HTT, "Sometimes there is a need to shake things up a bit. There's a better way to do things. We know who we are." The company has solid design capabilities, and will do more custom work than in the past, he said. "We will broaden our exposure in solids and turn production in the U.S. quickly."

He added, "We're a sales company and a manufacturing company. We have outstanding merchandising services and have enough expertise in the art department plus outside art experts. In addition, we brought in a couple of new people in finance and customer service, etc."

Discussing Swirbul's role at Chris Stone, Wygle said, "We wanted to use more of his expertise in the sales area, to meet customers' expectations better." The goal, he explained, "is to run the company more efficiently, tighten the focus and restructure the reps for better efficiency."

As for management, he added, "They need to learn to reproduce themselves."

Aizawa had been with the company for 21 years, the last eight as president.

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HTT August 2017

See the August 2017 issue of Home & Textiles Today. In this issue, we look at the Top 50 Retailing Giants Report, plus Manufacturing: Made in the USA gaining ground; International: Portugal ramping up exports; New products: NY Now home textiles introductions; Outlook: Commentary from H&TT's editors; and Planning: Trade show calendar.

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