Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Happy 65th Anniversary

Happy 65th Anniversary!

Joline previews the new Wesco Fabrics line of barkcloth prints with her husband Harry in the 1950’s.

Wesco Fabrics celebrates 65 years in business this year! Joline & Harry Weiss founded the company in 1946 with $4000, hard work, and a big dream. Today, Wesco Fabrics is one of the nation’s premier boutique decorative fabric and custom window covering wholesalers, serving the design trade in all 50 states and 5 countries.

Joline in her office at Wesco’s headquarters in the 1950’s. I love the mid-century furniture and design!

The Weiss’ began traveling to Europe and the Orient to source fabrics and woven wood material in 1959. Buyers in this era were primarily men, and Joline had to fight hard for their suppliers respect. Her drive and perseverance were legendary in the industry. She gained a reputation for picking fabric “winners.” Many competitors told the suppliers, “I’ll take what Joline is buying.”

A 1967 Wesco Fabrics’ catalog cover showing our headquarters at 4001 Forest Street in Denver.

This is a nostalgic look at an array of Wesco Fabrics samples from the 1970’s.

Joline’s office in the late 1980’s. She loved glam! Her desk had a capiz shell top and her side chair was covered with mink. Her draperies, trimmings, and cornices were silk.

My father-in-law, Harry, was a consummate task master. He was very principled and a true gentleman. I remember when I first started in the business and told him I was going to head home. He looked at me with a puzzled look and asked, “Dick, are you feeling sick?” It was 5:00 PM. He could be tough, but I remember him fondly!

In the late 1970’s we had a big party at the opening of our new warehouse in Columbus, Ohio. At one time we had warehouses in Dallas and Irvine, California, as well as our headquarters in Denver. “New”1980’s technology like fax machines and toll free phone numbers eventually made satellite warehouses obsolete.

An early sales meeting with Joline, Howard Smith, and Steve Beard. Steve, based in Jackson, Mississippi, has worked for us for over 46 years and covers Southern states. He is sensational!

At a party for our 50th anniversary, one of our New York suppliers, George Lichter, talks to Kay “Tootsie” Melnick. Tootsie was Harry Weiss’ sister, and a wonderful Wesco sales person. George was one of the founders of the Israeli air force and now lives in Boulder.

Bob Perrin, our Alaska salesperson, gave us huge bears to help celebrate our 50th anniversary in 1996. Marla’s sisters, Sharon Rittgers and Lora Carlile, worked in outside sales. Sharon’s husband, Joe Rittgers, worked in operations.

For our 50th party Marla worked with a choreographer and dancers to create a show about Wesco Fabrics through the ages.

Many stellar Wesco alums came to the 50th party. Left-to-right; yours truly, Howard Smith, Jim Henson, Steve Beard, Sam Hirschfield, Chuck Wells, and Wally Anderson.

A sales meeting in California was always a lively affair!

A sales meeting dinner in Laguna Beach back in the day. Kathy Greaser, in the striped top, is now our national sales manager. Will Hart, in the pink shirt, sells for us in Minnesota, Iowa, and the Dakota’s.

Marla is at one of our suppliers in Thailand buying antiques and furniture for our Denver Design District showroom.

Joline, Marla’s mother, taught us the importance of attending major markets around the world to find beautiful fabrics.

We have incentivized sales by offering exotic trips for top customers. Marla is shown with customers at the Goa Gajah Elephant cave temple in Bali.

Marla, Lucy, Dick, Kathy, Judi, Diane, and Katrina, show new fabrics at our showroom.

Michele, our plant manager, held a grommet seminar in our showroom for local designers.

I am very proud of our Custom Workroom staff. We manufacturer the window covering dreams of our customers around the country.

Marla inherited the drive and business acumen of her parents.

I am still crazily passionate about this business.

Our daughter Lisa sits on our board of directors. Her husband Ray works for us in sales in the Colorado mountain territory.

I think our grandsons have some flare for the business. The fourth generation is ready to rock!

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