Friday, January 19, 2018

MUCH MORE THAN JUST FOUR WALLS AND A ROOF. A STORY OF FAMILY, BUSINESS, AND LEGACY

Marla and I walked around our empty building for one of the last times. So much of lives were intertwined in our Denver building. We experienced dealing with closure when we sold Wesco Fabrics business to a competitor last January, but selling our last warehouse this week was so much more emotional than we expected! There once was so much vibrancy and activity. As we walked from room to room we could hear voices of the past bringing up a surge of emotions.

75,000 square feet of mid-century beauty. The new owners are in the luxury car business and will sell and store cars for clients.

Marla loved her office which was her Mom's year ago. Marla started in the company at 3 years old with 9-year-old Sharon, placing business cards in mailboxes as her Mom drove down the street with baby Lora. By 7, she found fun stringing Venetian blinds and collating catalogs in our first building at 30th and Larimer Street. That is called a "family business."

I called Marla one afternoon a week before our closing and she was bawling on the phone. I shouted, "What's wrong?" After a pause, she told me the new owners were planning to take all the plants out of our entryway. These plants were her babies she nurtured for years.  

 I spent so many years of my life in this office which once belonged to Harry, my father-in-law. I kept the old mid-century modern furniture from the 60's. It was so hard to leave it!

This was one of our fabric and furniture warehouse areas. At one time we had over 5000 shelves on 12' tall racks holding thousands of rolls of decorative fabrics. We also stored furniture and accessories purchased on buying trips around the world.


I miss all these fabrics and each one had a story to tell. They came from Italy, Sweden, England, Germany, India, France, Thailand, China, and many other places.
Marla and I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure of sourcing unique furniture and accessories. Many of these pieces are now in RM Coco's showrooms in Denver and Dallas.

This area was the location for our custom drapery workroom. I can still hear the buzz of sergers, straight needles, bar tackers, pleating machines, and quilters.


We were very proud of our expert seamstresses and the quality of our workmanship. We made custom window coverings for designers around the country including Hawaii, and Guam. Marla is working with JoAnn our custom specialist. To the right are Maggie and my assistant, Judy.

I'm checking out a beautiful velvet drapery.

Our daughter Lisa and grandson Logan said good-bye to the woodshop. I used to take  Lisa and Stacy with me to work on Saturdays when they were little girls. Lisa remembers making a swimming pool for her Barbie. I worked in the woodshop and the woven wood shade department when I first joined the company.


Our "Fancy Workroom" made everything from bedspreads, pillows, shades, cornices, pillows, and valances.

Our warehouse showroom was huge and many designers used it over the years to work on their projects and consult with our team.

We often used the warehouse showroom for sales meetings. One year we had a runway show to present our new fabric line.

Selling the Denver building was almost as hard for our daughter Lisa as Marla and me. I asked her to give a talk on salesmanship at a sales meeting one year. She is a stellar executive recruiter in Denver and an expert on client development. I am so proud of her!

Lisa's husband Ray worked for our company as a sales professional. He is shown working with a designer at one of our warehouse sales.

Our daughter Stacy and her husband Stan worked for us one summer while in college before they were married. His study of our sample department completely changed the department. They were called "Mr. & Mrs. Wesco" by some of the employees!

Our grandchildren Paxton and Logan worked for at Wesco Fabrics' many times over the years. This is what a family business is all about.

I am happy some of our past employees are working for RM Coco at our old Denver Design District showroom. Kathy is on the left in the grey top.

Judi has managed the DDD showroom for many years.

Tammy was our head of accounting and Georgia was our expert on Hunter Douglas products.
Marla's parents Joline and Harry started our business over 72 years ago. They were amazingly successful with their combination of brains and supreme dedication. Many people felt Harry's presence after his passing in 1986. Marla swears she had conversations with him in the building after everyone went home at night! I also felt there were many friendly ghosts in the building guiding us on our journey.

Only Steve Beard (in the middle) and I are still living from this group of amazing sales pros. Sam, in the dark suit, developed many of our manufacturing systems over the years. Chuck Wells in the white jacket was once our sales manager. He moved on to open a Denver showroom now run by his sons who once worked for us as well.


Voices of the past still echo in our warehouse. Sharon, on Marla's right, passed away many years ago. Marla's sister Lora, to her left, was in sales. Joe, on the bottom, retired to Texas. Bob in the floral shirt worked the Alaska territory, bringing these fabulous bears for the 50th anniversary celebration. I can still hear his deep voice!

So many memories and voices! Louise on the left ran our Forest showroom. Ruby next to her was my wonderful secretary for many years. In the middle is "Tootsie", Marla's aunt, and our fantastic saleswoman in the Boulder area. In the blue is Joline, Marla's Mom. In the red is our daughter Stacy during her summer break that year. 

It may sound crazy but Marla and I have cried about once a day since selling the building! I miss so many things about the business but my interaction with the design community is what miss the most! I loved creating and presenting new products to the trade and it brought out the mini-showman in me! 
Our Forest street warehouse featured so many unique design elements which I'll truly miss. The doors to the offices had agate doorknobs. There was decorative brickwork in the exterior and in parts of the interiors. 
On the day before closing Marla, Lisa, Ray and Logan said "to heck with OSHA." We are riding the conveyor belt down to the basement! 

This has been a very emotional journey for us. It is truly so "much more than four walls and a roof." It has been a story of a family business, legacy, closure, and it has touched many people. Sixteen family members have worked at Wesco over the years. We thank them and the thousands of employees, vendors, and clients who contributed to 72 successful years.  
We are still hearing those voices and they are saying...."everything is going to be fine and your next adventure is right in front of you!"
Marla and I both know they are right.

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