Blum is Now Third Generation Owner of Craftex After Buyout

September 5, 1999

Blue Bell, Pa. - Bob Blum, president of Craftex, has acquired 100 percent ownership of the mill by purchasing the privately held shares owned by his partner and cousin, Jeff Seder, who has chosen to leave the textile business.
The sale to Blum has ended rumors running through the industry that had erroneously identified various competitors as Craftex's new owner. As it turned out, Blum made the best offer for Craftex and his partner accepted the deal amicably, Blum said.
With the departure of Seder, Blum is in the process of selling a portion of his ownership to two longtime employees, Jack Eger, vice president, sales and marketing and Bob Proske, vice president, finance. The original deal with Seder was concluded in April using third party financing and the new arrangement with Eger and Proske is expected to close this year, Blum confirmed. He expects Craftex to continue a growth rate of at least five percent annually for the next five years.
''There are very few mills our size still left in the U.S. We think $50 million is a good size for our business. WeÕre strong enough to negotiate prices with our suppliers. We're hands on management used to giving our customers excellent service,'' Blum said. ''We expect to continue this type of service. When you're part of a conglomerate, you lose your flexibility and the personal touch.''
Craftex has 120 looms with 1998 sales of $45 million and has grown 15 percent annually for the past few years. A multi-million dollar deal with USAir was closed last year that established Craftex as the airline's exclusive supplier of upholstery. The entire fleet of planes has been refurbished with Craftex upholstery, Blum said.
Blum is the third generation owner of Craftex, a jacquard upholstery mill started by his grandfather in 1903. The company produces an open line but develops special items for jobbers, furniture manufacturers and contract purchasers. The bulk of Craftex business is to the residential furniture industry and fabric jobbers in the U.S., but Eger said he also has several customers in the UK including Duresta, Osborne & Little and Wade and JAB in Germany. In addition, Craftex does some business in the supply of cubicle curtains to the hospital market. CraftexÕs primary focus has been the production of highly styled washed rayon and cotton chenille, which sell from $16 and up.
''These goods are comparable to the best Belgian and Italian goods but we deliver in four to six weeks and work closely with our customers to develop new items,'' Blum said. Blum is well known for his hands-on style of management (even if it means he'll personally roll out a piece for delivery to a local customer) as well as for his passion for motorcycle touring. He owns two big BMW bikes and has toured Peru, the Andes and parts of Europe on a bike. It is his favorite means of transportation, even to work, he said. Craftex has administrative and corporate offices in Blue Bell but the actual mill is located in Auburn, N.Y., about 90 minutes away by bike or car. F&FI

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