Cone adds two senior executives

Carole Sloan, December 2, 2002

After taking a hard look at its home furnishings fabric business, Cone Mills has installed two additional senior executives to bring it up to speed.

Larry Wright, who has been working with Cone Mills for a year as a consultant, has been named general manager of Cone Jacquards, the home furnishings operations, said John Bekane, ceo of the parent company.

Jim Garner, who had been with the home furnishings division since its inception as head of the manufacturing segment, and later left to join Burlington, has returned to head manufacturing, Bekane said.

"We split the home furnishings business in August '01 when we sold the print segment to Richloom," Bekane said. "I assumed the role of general manager, and Tom Finneran was my right arm in sales. But this wasn't doing justice to the business, as the home furnishings business moved so quickly to different ways of doing things. So I put Larry in for full-time oversight. Tom continues focused on marketing as our senior vp, marketing and sales."

Under the new game plan, there are four dedicated design teams, Bekane explained: top-of-bed, outdoor, furniture and hospitality. "We're strengthening our product development efforts. We're focusing on new technology and product development. We want to work with customers in developing product."

One key asset, Bekane related, "is that of our 38 looms, 32 are wide looms, largely because of the insistence of Jim [Garner] and industry guru Andrew Major," who was a consultant to the company during its formative years.

The wide looms were niched for top-of-bed initially, Bekane explained, "but we can weave pillows, even ticking, which we're not doing now, and other end uses."

In addition, the division is now converting, "and as time goes on we expect converting will become even more important. Cone Jacquards will be even more diverse in a year."

In the recent past, Bekane said, "Cone Jacquards drifted away from its original mission — quick response and product development for customer needs. We lost some sight of the product" which resulted in a 48 percent drop in business for the third quarter ending Sept. 29.

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