Windham Weavers' Richard Russo retires from Windham -- and home textiles industry
Thomas Russell -- Home Textiles Today, January 10, 2011
West Warwick, R.I. - Three-decade home textiles industry veteran Richard Russo, who founded and more recently sold Windham Weavers to Natco Home Products, is retiring and leaving the home textiles industry.
"It's been a long and interesting career [and now] I just want to say goodbye," he told HTT. "I am walking away from the industry with my head held high that Windham is in good hands with the Natco team."
Russo's departure was Dec. 31, and in 2011 he said he "will be pursuing opportunities outside of the industry. I'm looking for something new to do, possibly buy a business or two, I'm looking into the healthcare industry. I just want a whole new career change."
At age 22, Russo began his career in the home textiles world. He started out working at Hayim & Co., an import rug company, in 1982. He climbed the ranks, coming in as a sales trainee then within six years became the company's evp of sales and product development.
In 1988, he left the company to open his own accent rug and table linens business, Woodstock Home Designs. In 1992 he acquired Fallani & Cohen, and one year later Russo sold the combined Woodstock Home Designs and Fallani and Cohen businesses to his then- business partner, Larry Kaye.
Later that year, 1993, Russo opened Windham Weavers for business. The company was a multi-category house than coordinated table lines with decorative pillows, kitchen textiles and accent rugs as well as some small window treatments.
Russo, who operated the company independently, said in recent years Natco Home Products offered to buy Windham Weavers on several occasions.
"We were friendly competitors over the years," Russo noted.
After some courtship, Russo finally accepted Natco's offer.
The timing, he said, was right.
"We're at a point now [in our industry] where I think the big will get bigger among wholesalers and retailers, and the smaller companies will get left behind unless they carve a specific niche for themselves," he explained. "You have to either get bigger or die. And if you can't get bigger by acquiring, you might as well get acquired and leave the company in a good spot. So that is exactly what I did."
Russo made the choice to be acquired in spring 2008, and six months later the company was officially sold.
Over the past two years, Windham has been assimilated into the Natco system. Its facilities, offices and showroom in New York and Connecticut have already been changed to Natco's headquarters here, and into its 295 Fifth Ave. showroom in Manhattan.
"It's come full circle," Russo summed, "and running on all cylinders."
Russo's contract with Natco was for three years, ending in October 2011. But he cut it short because he is "ready to move on and try something new."
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