Friday, April 29, 2016

WESCO FABRICS CELEBRATES 70 YEARS: 1996 to 2006. 4 of 10 blogs

Our 50th Anniversary party was a very special event and took place at the Denver Design District in 1996. Marla hired dancers for a choreographed presentation of the history of Wesco Fabrics. I had a tuxedo jacket made from a handwoven silk from our new line. The dancers began the show by somersaulting through a window with an actual Venetian Blind made by Weiss Venetian Blind Company in the 1950's. The "Moments' Notice" band accompanied the dancers & the dancing after dinner.

The family presented a poster of "Teamwork" to the company.

Steve Beard and I are with many of the Wesco Fabrics' alums at our 50th party who helped us get on the map over the years. To my left: Howard Smith, Jim Henson, Steve Beard, Sam Hirschfeld, Chuck Wells, and Wally Anderson.

Steve Beard attracted a crowd of fellow Wesco sales reps and a customer from Oregon. On his right: Lori Conway, Joe Silvey, Sharon Morgan, and Marie Fletcher.

Joline Weiss had an open house party the next evening at her home in Denver.            L to R: Joline, Dick and Marla Gentry, Lora Carlile, Sharon & Joe Rittgers.

George Lichter chats with Kay "Tootsie" Melnick at Joline's party. Tootsie was Marla's aunt and for many years worked in sales for us. She was famous for always bringing treats on her sales calls to her clients. George Lichter was a fabric supplier and good friend from New York City.

Bob Perrin, on my right, gave the family giant teddy bears at the sales meeting dinner. Our grandkids LOVE these bears! Bob carried Wesco Fabrics for us in Alaska.

Tammy Hamdy shows one of our new sheers to Jo Ann Brezette from our 50th anniversary line.

When Joline retired in 1987 I was President, Sales Manager, and Buyer.  It was obviously too much! Marla joined me in 1989 and brought her administrative and organizational skills. 

In 2006 we celebrated our 60th Wesco Fabrics' anniversary at a party in the Denver Design Center and saluted Joline Weiss, who helped us get here!  L to R:  Lisa Decker, Wesco's founder Joline Weiss, Marla Gentry, and Stacy Mullikin. 

 Marla introduced Joline and the family.

We presented a slideshow on the history of our company. Joline is looking at an early picture of her previewing a fabric line in New York City. There were very few woman buyers in our industry at the time.

 I'm telling the Wesco Fabrics' story to the crowd.

 My "Dream Team."

It was wonderful mixing with our friends & family, the Wesco Fabrics' team, and customers from around the country.

Marla completely planned the event. She even brought in our Wesco Fabrics' teak root tables  & accessories from Bali & Thailand to serve creative hors d'oeuvres. She inherited a gift for pulling off beautiful parties from her mom and her aunt, Kay Melnick.

The dance floor was packed!

The "Moments' Notice" band cranked up "Hava Nagila" and we all started dancing!

Marla said "Get in line" and the party really started! We really had a blast! We loved visiting with people around the country and sharing our story.

Images: Wesco Fabrics, Dick Gentry

Friday, April 22, 2016

WESCO FABRICS CELEBRATES 70 YEARS: 1986-1996, 3 of 10 Blogs

This is our invitation for our 40th anniversary party. The fabric was a beautiful combed cotton print from France.

The 40th party was fun, but bittersweet without Harry Weiss there!

Joline Weiss retired from Wesco Fabrics in October 1986. She was an amazing business woman and truly ahead of her time. Jo was supremely organized, aggressive, and had an uncanny ability to know what would sell to her customers. When she ventured to New York City to source fabrics for her company female buyers were somewhat a rarity in the male dominated world. I heard stories from competitors who would tell their suppliers, "I want what Joline is buying!"

We traveled to New York City in 1987 to attend a celebration of Joline's retirement and contribution in the wholesale fabric industry. L-R: Dick, Marla, Joline, Sharon & Joe Rittgers.

The Home Fashion Products Association presented Joline a lifetime achievement award. Lou Masser was one of our suppliers.

Our warehouse showroom in Denver was redesigned with new colors and displays in the 80's.

Our trade show displays were always really beautiful! Trade shows were important during this time, but no longer.

Ray Lemoine, our West coast Manager, and I work at a trade show on the West Coast.

Steve Beard who now celebrating 50 years as a Wesco Fabrics sales rep, and I take a break after a trade show.

Journalists from Home Textiles Today and others were always calling about conditions in the textile industry. It is fun to look back at prints trends of the past!

I am in the middle of hammering out a deal with Gene Gold, one of our New york City suppliers in the 1980's. Not sure who came out on top of this one!

It was always fun reconnecting with suppliers and competitors alike during the New York Jobber Market.

Louverdrape Vertical Blinds, shown on the right, were made in our Denver plant. These window coverings were a great example of what we made at the time.

We then took on the manufacture of Duette shades from Hunter Douglas in our Denver plant.

December 3, 1991 was an exciting time signing a contract for Marla's project of the Denver Design Center Wesco Fabrics showroom. Becky Lively was our first showroom manager. A few years later we expanded next door into the former Robert Allen space.

Wesco Fabrics from the 1990's. I loved the Euro-Sateen prints which were printed in Holland!

Kathy Greaser sets up some product shots for marketing postcards. Kathy is our National Sales Manager today, celebrating 30 years this year.

In May of 1993 we had a great visit with Louise Alvarado who had managed our Denver warehouse showroom for 25 years. On her left is Ruby VonWald, my assistant, Kay Melnick, Harry's sister and Wesco sales rep, Joline Weiss, and our daughter Stacy Gentry.

Marla with Jerry Gette, who worked in the woven wood department with me in the 70's. He moved to Dallas to run it there, then returned to Wesco Denver as Cut Yardage supervisor until his retirement. 

Gerry Zedja worked for us for many, many years in billing.

Marla has fun with a little display made by our Custom Workroom. It could have been a great dog bed!

An overhead carrier system for moving draperies was installed in the 90's.

Our workroom team fabricates orders for designers around the country. A Swag valance and Austrian shades in the background.

We imported our first container of unique furniture from Bali in 1985. Aubrey Russum, our plant manager, who retired after 40 years checks off the shipment.

Judy Schlachet was my assistant for many years and today wears many hats in the company.

Images: Dick Gentry, Wesco Fabrics