The Homer Laughlin China Company’s (HLC) former president and CEO and most recently chairman of the board, Joseph M. Wells III, passed away on March 12, 2019, at the age of 77.
Wells began his career at HLC as a part-time worker in high school and college, starting full-time in 1963.
He worked his way up to the sales department and then succeeded his father as executive vice president and general manager in 1986.
In June 2002, he became CEO and president of the company and he retired in 2013, then becoming chairman of the board of directors.
The company said: “Wells was always quick to credit HLC’s success to its employees and past generations of leaders.
“However, he took his rightful place alongside those leaders in leaving a legacy of vision and success.”
Under Wells’ tenure, the company modernized its production facilities and decorating processes with state-of-the-art equipment to ensure high quality and efficiency.
He helped expand the popular Fiesta line, enhancing its worldwide reputation as a favorite of collectors.
Finally, in 2010 he oversaw the acquisition of Hall China, a chinaware manufacturer founded in 1904 and headquartered in his hometown of East Liverpool, Ohio.
The company added: “Perhaps most importantly, Wells was determined to keep the company’s jobs in the US, despite industry trends to move manufacturing overseas.
“As a lifelong resident of the area, he was dedicated to growing his community by offering good-paying manufacturing jobs in his hometown.”
Liz McIlvain, Wells’ sister and current president and CEO of HLC, said: “We will miss him greatly. His leadership inspired us, his vision guided us, but most of all, his friendship enriched us.”
HLC is the largest domestic tableware manufacturer in the United States, employing over 800 craftsmen in a 37-acre facility. Homer Laughlin China and Hall China comprise the HLC Inc. family of companies.