THE ONES WHO DID IT THEIR WAY.
"Of all the factors affecting cotton, the two principal ones are weather and politics. Of the two, the weather is more predictable," said Charles Albert Cannon, who made the brand Cannon a household name and played a major role in the textiles industry.
Yes, Cannon knew his politics. In the 1960s, the U.S. textiles industry was alarmed with the two-price cotton program. American cotton exports that were sold outside the United States at world market prices were cheaper than domestic prices. Cannon was concerned that foreign manufacturers who already had the advantage of purchasing lower-priced cotton were shipping huge quantities of textiles back into the United States.
Unhappy with the arrangement, Cannon battled with Washington for three years and finally won approval from Congress on July 31, 1966, to install a one-price cotton program.
Cannon led Cannon Mills for 50 years, from 1921 to 1971, after his father, founder James Cannon, died in 1921. Like his father, he had personal interest in all aspects of manufacturing, production and distribution of products.
14 Terence Conran
Terence Conran embarked upon his career equipped with a philosophy of good design and quality, offered at a fair price. Over the past 50 years, Conran has created an empire that now includes retail stores, restaurants, and an architectural and design firm, all based on that simple philosophy. He also found time to author about a dozen books, and was knighted along the way.
Conran was 21 years old and had only recently graduated from London's Central School of Arts and Crafts when he set up a furniture-making business in a basement studio in the Notting Hill section of London in 1952. As that business grew, Conran began to display the business acumen that made him a success. Instead of focusing solely on the furniture business, he began to diversify. In 1956, he opened Conran Design Group, which offered a variety of design services, from retail and office design to product and graphic design. In between those two ventures, Conran opened his first restaurant, Soup Kitchen, grew it into a four-unit chain, sold his share and started another restaurant -- The Orrery -- on King's Road.
In 1964, Conran opened the first Habitat store in London. Within 10 years, there were 18 units in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, Conran had started a second chain, The Conran Shop.
Today, Conran continues to work in the same fashion he has for half a century. The minute he retires from one venture, he starts up two more. In the past few years, Conran opened a new store in New York City, and new restaurants in major cities around the world. Later this year, he will open a store in Tokyo.
15 Trammell Crow
Trammell Crow, born and raised in Dallas, began developing warehouse buildings after World War II. In the following decades, his expansive development projects established his company as one of the top commercial real estate management companies in the United States. Today the Trammell Crow Co. oversees more than 500 million square feet of commercial property in the United States and Canada.
The most significant contribution Crow made to the home industry was his Dallas Market Center. Founded in 1957, DMC was the first permanent facility to unite regional wholesalers under one roof. The wholesale trade had been operating independently in separate locations throughout the city.
DMC has grown into a fully integrated exhibition and services company for more than 100,000 professional buyers annually and more than 2,000 permanent tenants.
The center currently encompasses nearly 7 million square feet of permanent and temporary showroom facilities on a 110-acre campus, and produces in excess of 50 markets each year. It is the permanent home of the lighting and floral industries, and it has become a major destination for decorative accessories.
DMC claims to be the largest market center complex in the world, and to serve more industries and produce more market events than any other trade center. The business facilitates more than $7.5 billion of wholesale transactions annually and creates more than $925 million of economic impact for the local economy.
16 Harry Cunningham
In the 1960s, Harry Cunningham, president and chief executive officer of S.S. Kresge Co., reinvented the role of the retailer by inventing Kmart.
After studying the discount retail market, which was composed mostly of five-and-dimes and stores selling goods for under a dollar, Cunningham urged management at S.S. Kresge to launch Kmart -- and to do so at an aggressive pace.
Under Cunningham's ambitious watch, the retailer opened the first Kmart in 1962. Before the end of the year, 17 more Kmarts would open. By 1966, the retailer operated 162 Kmarts while taking in more than $1 billion in sales. By 1977, about 95 percent of domestic sales at the retailer were generated by the Kmart banner. Subsequently, the company renamed itself Kmart Corp.
Cunningham joined S.S. Kresge in 1928 and worked his way up slowly and steadily. He had a reputation for being persuasive, innovative and charming. Cunningham was named superintendent of stores by 1947 and garnered the title of general vice president by 1957. In 1959 Cunningham was named president and then CEO.
In 1967, Cunningham was named chairman. By then, he had led the company through some of the retailer's most robust growth. Cunningham retired in 1973 and died in 1992.
17 William T. Dillard
William T. Dillard, the founder and chairman of Dillard's who died at the age of 87 in February, was described by industry leaders and colleagues as a maverick retailer who was a determined and fierce competitor.
Dillard is best known for taking his regional chain national. In 1938, Dillard opened his first store in Nashville, Ark. During the next 64 years, he grew the chain to more than 340 units. Dillard's success as a retailer was built by offering value pricing -- especially on private-label goods.
Retail consultant Walter Loeb said Dillard's "entrepreneurship created the last major department store chain in the U.S. He was a very dynamic leader. His chain was the first with many innovative ideas, including controls and computerized information."
Dillard was born in Mineral Springs, Ark., in 1914. He graduated from the University of Arkansas with a degree in business. Later, he received a master's degree in business administration from Columbia University.
After World War II, Dillard sold his first store and later opened three stores in Texas. By 1960, he was able to buy the Brown-Dunkin department store business. From there, Dillard continued to expand the chain.
18 Leon Dreimann
He has been referred to by peers as "the greatest marketer of all time." Leon Dreimann, chief executive officer of Salton Inc., and the products his company has backed have made quite an impact on the housewares industry.
While the Salton brand name was introduced in 1947, when Lew Salton invented the HoTray, the corporation as we know it today was formed in August 1988. Dreimann, one of its founders, has served as both a director and CEO since its inception.
A native of Australia, Dreimann held various sales, marketing and management positions with companies such as Woolworths Ltd., Gillette (Australia) Party Ltd. and Salton Electrical Party Ltd. before coming to the United States.
In addition to packing power behind trusted brands such as Toastmaster and Farberware, Salton has made a name for itself with marketing sensations such as the Juiceman, the George Foreman Grill and, most recently, the relaunch of the time-honored Westinghouse brand with a line of Smart Appliances powered by Microsoft's CE.net platform.
Dreimann currently serves on the board of directors of Amalgamated Appliance Holdings Ltd. in South Africa, as well as on the board of Epods Inc. in Seattle. He also serves as co-chairman of the Housewares Charity Foundation, which in 2000 presented Dreimann with a Lifetime Humanitarian Award.
19 Warren Eisenberg and Leonard Feinstein
In 1971, Warren Eisenberg and Leonard Feinstein founded Bed 'n Bath, a chain of 5,000-square-foot textiles stores. It wasn't until many years later, when they hit upon the "beyond" idea, that the concept soared into the stratosphere.
With the addition of housewares, decor, wall art, lighting and other categories, Bed Bath & Beyond became the first home furnishings superstore. (The additions started around 1985, but the name change didn't happen until 1987.) The store became a hit with consumers, who responded to the everyday low prices and exhaustive selection. Clever merchandising and a smattering of thrill-of-the-hunt items keep customers coming back.
Behind the scenes, much of Bed Bath & Beyond's success is attributed to its philosophy of decentralization. Store managers bear much of the responsibility for each store's selection and inventory. With no central distribution centers, merchandise goes directly to the stores -- a cost-saver for the company but a chore for its vendors.
Today Bed Bath & Beyond operates more than 400 stores, some of which measure more than 80,000 square feet.
20 Sam Farber
Not only has Sam Farber been the driving force behind Oxo, Copco and now Wovo, he has also been influential in bringing thoughtful and affordable design to housewares.
Farber graduated from Harvard with a bachelor's degree in economics and founded Copco in 1960. Under Farber, Copco became known for well-designed colorful cookware and teakettles. Farber retired in 1988 after selling Copco to Wilton Industries, but soon was back in the saddle. He created a line of gadgets that were both comfortable to hold and easy to use after watching his wife, who has mild arthritis, have difficulty gripping kitchen tools.
The Good Grips line of rubber-handled utensils became the core product line of Oxo International, which Farber founded in 1990.
Farber sold Oxo to General Housewares in 1992, retiring from active management once again, but working as a consultant to General Housewares, developing the Grilla Gear line of barbecue tools along the way. In 2001, Farber and his son John founded Wovo, which has released a line of sculptural serveware made of heavy plastic.
Farber has lectured on design and mentored design programs at Harvard, M.I.T., Babson and Carnegie Mellon. He is a director of the Corporate Design Foundation, a member of the board of overseers of the Institute of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology, a director of Raw Vision and a trustee of the American Folk Art Museum.
If it were not for the leadership of David Farrell, May Department Stores Co. would not be considered the operations specialist it is today.
Farrell, who retired as chairman and chief executive officer of May Department Stores in 1998 after 42 years with the company, pioneered "matrix buying," which standardized merchandise purchasing across divisions with a central buying arm. The result was a consistent product mix across May's department store chains.
The practice also required vendors to meet stringent sales and profit targets.
In addition, Farrell was known for his aggressive cost-management skills. These disciplines are widely viewed as the reason for the chain's ability to produce steady profits.
"He was able to leverage best practices across the entire organization, which produced a good cash flow [for the company], and solid sales and earnings," said Dave Vernon, vice president and general merchandise manager for home at Burdines, a division of Federated Department Stores.
"Farrell revolutionized a sector of the department store business with a tight, centralized focus on merchandise profitability and logistics," said Frank Foley, president and chief executive officer of textiles supplier CHF Industries.
22 Edward Finkelstein
Edward Finkelstein's leadership reshaped the way department stores sell housewares.
It was the early 1970s, and Finkelstein, then chairman and chief executive officer of Macy's West, was discontent. High-end cosmetics suppliers wouldn't sell to the chain, turning their noses up at the retailer because its price points weren't high enough.
What Macy's West did have was powerhouse housewares brands, and Finkelstein set out to create a dynamic home for those brands. The result was The Cellar, a virtual fashion runway for housewares products that revolutionized the business. The move not only eventually won Macy's West those elusive cosmetics brands, but drew "a whole new set of customers" to the store, Finkelstein told HFN.
In addition to developing The Cellar, "Finkelstein was a champion of quality direct imports," said Sid Doolittle, a retail consultant with McMillan/Doolittle. The Cellar came to be known as an important arena for distinct private-label merchandise.
And Finkelstein led a buying team that has become the stuff of housewares retailing folklore. "It doesn't take a lot of money, but it takes creative genius to make merchandise appetizing," said Finkelstein, referring to the merchandising staff behind The Cellar that one housewares veteran called "the retailing equivalent of the New York Yankees."
23 Leonard Florence
Leonard Florence is the recently retired chairman of Syratech Corp., a leading silver manufacturer that also has a strong foothold in the gift industry. By all accounts, he is the heart and soul of the industry.
On the business side of things, Lenny, as everyone in home furnishings knows him, has been credited with consolidating numerous flatware brands and providing a wide platform of merchandise at a range of price points and styles. The man who started out in 1969 with a small business called Leonard Silver over the years built Syratech into one of the top 50 companies in home furnishings.
Lenny is also known for his extraordinary charity work and his compassionate nature. "Lenny has a heart of gold," said Mike Gould, chairman and chief executive officer of Bloomingdale's. "He is very bright, very intuitive. He has a great passion for business and a great compassion for people."
But Gould has another theory on the key to Lenny's success. "What makes Lenny Florence special is his wife, Charlotte. She's the only person who puts up with his mishegases [Yiddish for craziness]."
24 George Foreman
George Foreman has become a housewares icon. He is known as George -- no last name needed -- in circles ranging from Weight Watchers meetings to retail buying offices. He is recognized less for his prowess in the boxing ring than for a device that squeezes grease from a hamburger.
The former heavyweight champion honed his pitching skills by selling the Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine for Salton. The grill became a huge success, consistently appearing among the top-selling items in the housewares industry. The campaign featuring Foreman brought the infomercial to another level and gave the housewares industry a new category -- the electric tabletop grill.
Foreman also broke ground in 1999 by selling Salton the rights to use his name for their small electrics in a deal for nearly $140 million that ranks among the largest endorsement contracts ever signed by a sports figure. Salton has since extended his name to a family of products called George that includes portable appliances with tight profit margins.
25 Sal Giordano Sr.
Fedders Corp. is the nation's leading supplier of room air conditioners. Sal Giordano Sr., the man who built the company and was instrumental in developing the modern compact cooling device we regard today as essential, is still active in his 90s as corporate chairman.
The son of immigrants, Giordano had to quit school at 17 to earn a living. That was 1927, and he began as a floor boy at Frank J. Quigan Inc., which made handbags and purse frames in Brooklyn, N.Y. By 1934, he was vice president and acting chief executive officer.
In 1945, Quigan acquired Fedders Manufacturing Co., which was founded in 1896 as a metalworking business in Buffalo, N.Y., and then expanded into heat-transfer products. Giordano, CEO of Fedders-Quigan, acted swiftly to design and market room air conditioners, effectively a new category. The company introduced private-label models in 1946 and Fedders units in 1948. By 1951, the industry exceeded 200,000 units.
The growth was accelerated by Giordano, a pioneer in adapting mass-production techniques to make affordable, compact machines that ran on 115 volts. In 1949, the company branched into central air conditioning. He became chairman in 1952 and the company took its present name in 1958. Sal Giordano Jr. succeeded his father as CEO in 1988, and the company has expanded internationally into allied environmental businesses.
26 Michael Graves
Michael Graves made home furnishings history when he designed his famous whistling bird teakettle.
But thanks to the Michael Graves Collection at Target, the designer will be remembered for much more -- as a pioneer in bringing great design to the mass market.
Recognized for modern, shapely forms that bring beauty, simplicity, intelligence and sometimes whimsy to everyday items, Graves Design has designed more than 1,000 consumer products for Alessi, Duravit and Baldinger Architectural Lighting, among others. Products range from furniture, textiles, architectural lighting, hardware and bathroom fixtures to housewares, home decor, leather goods, watches and jewelry.
Having founded his practice in Princeton, N.J., in 1964, Graves has been at the forefront of architectural and interior design for decades. Cited by Paul Goldberger, former critic with The New York Times, as "the most truly original voice American architecture has produced in some time," Graves has received more than 160 design awards, plus the prestigious 1999 National Medal of Arts and the 2001 Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects. He is the Robert Schirmer Professor of Architecture, Emeritus, at Princeton University, where he taught for nearly 40 years. Graves has received 11 honorary doctorates.
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|Comment:|| THE ONES WHO DID IT THEIR WAY.(Brief Article)|
|Publication:||HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||May 27, 2002|
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