• Thomas Russell

Thomaston churns again

THOMASTON, GA -With less than a week to go before spring market and fresh off the resignations of three members of the Hightower family from its management structure, Thomaston Mills, Inc. released Bob Dale from his post as vp, sales and marketing.

Along with the dismissal of Dale, the textiles company, based here, also announced the relocation of its sales and marketing arm here from its location in New York.

"We've been trying to look at our business effectively from stem to stern with no preconceived conceptions as to what was going to work best for Thomaston, and this is the conclusion we reached," William Ott, acting president/ceo, told Home Textiles Today. "From our position, these moves strengthen and speed our communications and put us in a position to serve our customers better."

Stepping in as vp, retail sales will be Steve McGee, while Bill Hightower has been appointed vp, institutional sales. Both men, who had reported to Dale in their previous positions as business managers based in Georgia, will now report directly to Ott.

Ott said the dismissal of Dale was not only a cost-cutting move, but served to eliminate a layer of management and compress the organizational structure of the company. As a result of the reorganization, Ott said, Thomaston will now be able to run a leaner and tighter structure and get closer to its customers.

While some may question the timing of the move so close to the opening of spring market, Ott said he felt once the decision had been reached, it was best to implement it immediately.

"Going into market, we want absolute clarity as to who we are," he said. "If we had made the change afterwards, it would have added confusion. It was never an easy decision; but looked at in terms of the clarity of our long-term considerations, it was the best one."

Although Thomaston's sales management structure will move to its home offices in Georgia, no one will be relocated and the manufacturer will retain its New York showroom. Those sales persons who worked out of New York will remain and will stay to service their respective territories. Patricia Feiwel, design director, and her design team will also remain, since "New York and design go hand in hand," Ott said. Feiwel will now report directly to him. Some of the large space at 111 W. 40th Street may be sublet in the future, he added. That decision, however, has not been made yet.

Ott said there had been no serious industry backlash to the news of Thomaston's re-organization, and in fact many understood why the changes had been made in light of the struggles the home textiles industry has undergone recently.

"Yes, this is a cost-cutting move," Ott said. "But it does put into place the most effective management organization we can have to best serve our customers.

"I think everyone we've talked to is supportive of it," he added, "and we look forward to seeing everyone at market and working with them."

Thomas RussellThomas Russell | Associate Editor, FurnitureToday

I'm Tom Russell and have worked at Furniture/Today since August 2003. Since then, I have covered the international side of the business from a logistics and sourcing standpoint. Since then, I also have visited several furniture trade shows and manufacturing plants in Asia, which has helped me gain perspective about the industry in that part of the world. As I continue covering the import side of the business, I look forward to building on that knowledge base through conversations with industry officials and future overseas plant tours. From time to time, I will file news and other industry perspectives online and, as always, welcome your response to these Web postings.

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