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OAK CLIFF (CBSDFW.COM) – When most textile manufacturing—comforters, draperies and the like—moved overseas, Larry and Janet Pearson moved Quiltcraft from the design district to south Oak Cliff. And yes, colleagues called them crazy.
“Yeah, all of them did,” admitted Pearson, with a laugh. But, time has shown that he was crazy like a fox. “We are busting at the scenes.”
Haven’t heard of Quiltcraft? No worries. People can see their work at various hotels.
“You have seen our product in every major hotel in the United States,” said Pearson. From Marriott to Hilton to LaQuinta to Motel 6, custom bedding, pillows and window treatments were made in south Oak Cliff.
“There’s good people here, that need a job, will work for us, come to work 5 days a week or 6 days a week: it’s a good combination,” said Pearson. “We don’t have any complaints about south Dallas. In fact, it’s very much the other way.”
When Pearson and business partner wife, Janet, first spotted the vacant warehouse that would house their expansion they had very different ideas about its future: “I said it was great…she said, this is a mess!” said Pearson.
But, it didn’t stay that way. “We had to stake claim to this territory because it had been public domain for 10 years. We cleaned it up, put in an alarm system, and we had good police protection,” said Pearson. “And we needed that for the first 3-4 months until people realized that it’s not a place go to party on the weekends. It’s a business. Once we established that, we had no problems at all.”
The company has enjoyed tremendous success over the past 3 decades, having carved a domestic niche that provides a service that overseas companies can’t match.
At its core, Quiltcraft is a family company: in the front office, and on the floor.
“The people in this factory aren’t just employees,” said Pearson as he introduced Maria Veliz, “they’re friends.”
Veliz has been with the company for 25 years and admitted that she checks out the competition when travelling—often noting “I make it better!” And reacting with delight when she spots some draperies or throws that she and her colleagues made in south Oak Cliff.
Veilz also agreed with Pearson that within the nondescript brown walls, Quiltcraft is a tightly knit crew. “Yeah, it’s another home.”
Even during the recession, the company avoided layoffs. But, Pearson will hand himself a pink slip soon.
He’s planning to retire.
“I get to hand it to my son,” Pearson said with restrained emotion and obvious pride. “He’s got to buy it, though!” He added with a laugh, “I’m not going to give it to him.” Then adding, “if there’s anybody here that knows this business better than I do, it’s him.”
He said his son, David Pearson, now company president will oversee the company’s next expansion. “He’s worked in this business since he was 10 years old, as a kid working in the summers,” said Pearson. “He would go hang drapes at hotels. He did every part of it that can be done. And I am beyond a little bit proud of him.”
As the company celebrates its 30th anniversary this month, Pearson said he looks back—and is humble, and most of all, grateful.
“It has been a wonderful, wonderful experience,” said Pearson. “We’ve got to provide jobs for people. We’ve got to stay connected with them and their families. That’s a great opportunity in this country.”
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