Lehman Brothers Collection - Contemporary Business Archives

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Twentieth-Century Business Archives

Collins & Aikman Corp. - Lehman Brothers Collection

Collins & Aikman Corp.

List of Deals

G. L. Kelty, a precursor to the Collins & Aikman Corporation, was founded in 1843 by Gibbons Kelty. Kelty sold window shades in New York City and gradually added home furnishing lines and upholstery fabrics. By 1870 the company was operating several downtown stores, selling furniture, curtains, and upholstery; the company also operated a textile factory in Astoria, New York. After Gibbons Kelty's death, his nephew, Charles Aikman, formed C. M. Aikman & Co.; Aikman then bought out the principal Kelty interests in the company, which included a half interest in a weave plant in Philadelphia. William G. Collins owned the other half interest in the plant. Collins and Aikman incorporated the company in 1891 as Collins & Aikman Company.

Collins & Aikman specialized in heavy fabric for upholstery and became the first American producer of jacquard velvet in 1898. The company began to make fabrics for auto seats in the 1920s. The company went public in 1926 and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. It was reincorporated as Collins & Aikman Corporation in 1927. In 1937 the company expanded to develop airplane upholstery.

In the post World War II years, the company diversified into institutional carpets as plastics supplanted textiles for many auto interior components. Collins & Aikman expanded through acquisitions in the 1960s and followed a policy of replacing outmoded plants and machinery as well as outdated products. By 1966 the company's products included knitted, woven, and tufted materials for apparel, tricot, pile fabrics, upholstery for home furnishings, area rugs, plush fabrics for toys, upholstery for automobiles and airplanes, wet filtration fabrics, swimming pool cover material, netting fabrics, weather-stripping fabric, automobile carpets, and spun yarns.

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