For Immediate Release: June 28, 2002 – 2:15 PM
Contact: Dan Williams 1-304-387-1300 ext. 489
A New Chapter Begins for The Homer Laughlin China Company as Joe Wells III Moves from EVP/GM to President
Newell, West Virginia—A new chapter begins in the history of The Homer Laughlin China Company, founded in 1871. Effective June 28, 2002 Joe Wells III moves from Executive Vice President and General Manager to President, succeeding Marcus Aaron II who officially steps down, changing the nature of a unique family partnership that goes back almost 105 years to the end of 1897. That was when Homer Laughlin sold his interest in the company he founded to his General Manager, William Edwin Wells, and a group headed by Louis I. Aaron. Today the company acquired the interests of more than 70 shareholders, many of whom are descendants of the Aaron and Wells families and former employees. Until today, successive generations of the two families continued to manage the company for more than a century.
“Rest assured,” Wells said, “the company is not going to change in any significant way. This is change built on a firm foundation. The mission of The Homer Laughlin China Company remains the same as it has always been. We will continue to focus on our core products—domestically produced and decorated quality lead free china for the retail and commercial markets.”
Wells spoke positively about the company’s future, saying he plans to export more china than ever before, and that customers can look for innovative new products and new decorating techniques. With current updates, Wells says, a major portion of the plant is practically brand new.
Designed and executed with superior skill and the finest materials, Homer Laughlin products, including the renowned Fiesta®, have gained momentum with long standing tradition and continual innovation. Fiesta® will continue to be produced, and Wells says collectors can look forward to new colors and products within the line. The Homer Laughlin China Company is considered the largest china manufacturer in the United States, employing more than 1100 people on 37 acres.
Unlike many corporate changes these days, this one comes on a tide of good feelings. “Our families have never had an argument ever as far as I know,” said Wells. “It is with some sadness that I say goodbye to the Aaron-Wells family partnership.”
In a letter to the shareholders of Homer Laughlin, Aaron wrote, “I have had the privilege for the last 13 years to have been the fourth generation of my family to serve as President of Homer Laughlin and to work with Joe Wells III, the fourth generation of the Wells family to serve as General Manager of the company, as well as the many dedicated employees of the company, many who are also fourth and fifth generation employees.”
Aaron continued, “For the past year we have been working to find a way to assure the future of the company consistent with the vision shared jointly by the Aaron and Wells families—that The Homer Laughlin China Company should be an American company with predominantly local ownership, producing an American made product while providing jobs and giving support to the communities of the Tri-State area.”
At Wells request, Aaron will continue to serve as an advisor to the company and together with Carl A. Hess, a fifth generation member of the Aaron family, will continue to sit on the company’s board of directors. Wells says that no management changes will take place. Most of the management team of The Homer Laughlin China Company has been employed there for 20 to 30 years.
Wells started with The Homer Laughlin Company in 1963, working his way up into the company’s sales department eleven years later. He succeeded his father, Joseph M. Wells, Jr. in 1986 as Executive Vice President and General Manager. Wells lives in East Liverpool, Ohio, with his wife Betsy. They are the parents of two grown children, Anne Wells Cook of Chicago, Illinois, and David Wells of Springfield, Mass. They also have one grandchild.