Donald Reid Eng, 90, Passes On  

March 3, 2021


Don Eng
Don Eng

CONCORD, NC--A memorial service for Don Eng, a beloved character and mentor to many in the upholstery fabrics business will be held at 11:00 am Thursday, March 4, 2021, at St. James Lutheran Church.

He was most remembered for his role as Vice President of Marketing at Collins & Aikman, at one time a major player in the upholstery fabrics business.
The family will receive friends at Wilkinson Funeral Home on Wednesday, March 3, 2021, from 4:00-8:00 pm. Covid protocols will be in place for both the service and visitation.

The service will be live-streamed on the Wilkinson Funeral Home Facebook Page.

Eng was born June 9, 1930, in Kings Mountain, NC. Don grew up in Kings Mountain and graduated from Kings Mountain High School in 1949. He was employed by Neisler Mills in Kings Mountain until 1956.

Eng was married to Janell on June 17, 1956, and they moved to Concord where he joined Collins and Aikman in the styling department. In 1966 he graduated from the Executive Program of the Thirteenth Executive Group at Chapel Hill. For many years, Don served as the manager of Collins and Aikman Home Fabrics at the mill in Concord, NC. In 1985 he was named Vice President of Marketing for Collins and Aikman, Home Fabrics upholstery. As his career grew, he became well known internationally in the textile industry. He retired from Collins and Aikman in 1998, but he continued to consult with several textile mills within the U.S. and China until 2010.  

Don is survived by his wife Janell (Jo), sister Brenda Thomason, daughter Kimberly Haberman, and husband Scot, daughter Kelley Carpenter, and husband Jeff; grandchildren Sydney Haberman, Samuel Haberman, Casie Carpenter, and Jeffery Carpenter; great grand-children Annabelle, Hudson, and Hannah.

Memorials should be made to St. James Lutheran Church, PO Box 684, Concord, NC 28026.

Remembrances of Don Eng

When Wes Mancini first started to work for Home Fabrics in 1982 (Collins & Aikman owned it then), Don was taking him to the Mastercraft plant to meet Andrew Major.

“Don drove a blue, very old mustang without air conditioning that he was planning on giving to his daughter,” Mancini recalls. “ I learned that this was the test drive to see if the car was worth it. It was the peak of summer, very hot even with the windows wide open, and Don was chewing tobacco spitting the swill into a soda can. The car died in the middle of nowhere. The car eventually got repaired, but now drenched from the heavy heat, we went onward to meet Andrew, the president of Mastercraft. This was my introduction to life with Don and C&A (not quite what someone from Connecticut was accustomed to).”

Mancini says Don Eng was like a father to him and Steve McCusker (Mancini in design and Steve in sales, both the same age). ” It was like being raised in the family business. Back then the working force was strictly white, straight, gray-haired men so taking on two youngsters was a novel idea (especially one that was openly gay, me). He taught us by example that your word is exactly what you do. He had his funny southernisms and tales that were as entertaining as anything on TV. Don was a man among men and many in our industry felt the same way and admired him for that.”

In the early '90s, Don was hearing from our customers that the fabrics had to be softer. He immediately went to work on developing a process for softening the fabrics. After experimenting with his home washing machine and dryer, he started washing fabrics in industrial size washing machines. With the combination of polyester and cotton yarns, the fabric went from flat and stiff to soft and dimensional. The Shabby Chic look immediately became an industry standard finish. Merchandisers used to require a pattern, color, and price, now a soft hand was a ‘new’ requirement. The industry today would be nowhere without the hand of softer fabrics he originated back then.
--This is from Steve McCusker who was the Home Fabrics rep for the Southeast. He and Wes Mancini were the teams with Don that made the Home Fabrics division of Collins & Aikman.

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