A Short History of Doral Fabrics
March 15, 2018
Doral was started as a converter of handbag fabrics by Ken’s grandad Max in 1940. Ken’s father Eugene found a niche for interior furnishings under his reign. “My grandfather travelled eight months of the year and my father frequently joined him. Grandad also sold silk goods to Curt Pindler’s grandfather (Pindler & Pindler on the West Coast of America). On one of those trips, the Golds (Max and Eugene) went to Finland and formed a joint venture called Barker/Doral with a Finnish mill that resulted in what was ultimately a 19 million yard business, 26,000 yards per shipment in 100,000 double rub contract FR fabrics in the USA from 1969-1983. The deal with the Finnish mill ended badly with the Finnish Government purchasing the two mills still operating in that country and burying the business. Ken joined the firm in 1979 and followed up the Finnish success with a $4.95 a yard 40 inch width single ply dupioni Indian silk line with J.C. Penney. It was a 20,000-50,000 yard a month business but Penney ultimately went direct and failed to succeed on their own in a few years. “China doubled the price of silk yarn and killed the business in 2008 when the US economy crashed, he remembers. “Our industry still has not recovered from the meltdown.” The Golds were the first to go to China even before Richard Nixon made China a favorite nation. At 63, Gold still travels 150,000 miles a year combing the globe for product which now includes about ten countries including South Africa, India, Poland, China, Taiwan and Thailand. Ken remembers that when he started, the customer knew more than he did about textiles. As a result, he went back to North Carolina State to get his Masters Degree in Textiles and that is where he learned about color and design. This sets him apart from everyone else and the mills at Heimtextil seek him out for his color advice. Some of the recolored patterns are still selling in the Doral line after 20 years, he says. Ken has four sons, 35, 33, 31, and 27 and none of them are in the business. The smart money is betting that at least one of them will recognize the value of the business and take the reins in the future but that is of course speculation at this point. Also, Ken Gold shows no sign of slowing down. He loves the business just too much!