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Wilkinson’s reaches 50 years in business this year!  The following article was published in the Valdosta Daily Times.

Man of Determination bottom part

Wilkinson’s reaches 50 years in business  ~ Man of Determination


VALDOSTA – Fred Wilkinson re­ members a time when his manufac­turing company made $14 million in one year and was one of the largest employers in the area.

Wilkinson’s, in its former days, employed 450 people in two shifts at its Remerton location in an old cot­ ton mill building before it was torn down, the owner said.        ·

Prior to Remerton, the home textile manufacturer first opened

on River Street in 1969 “in an old to­bacco warehouse with no insulation and no heat,” Wilkinson said.

Though the company observes its 50th birthday later this year, it has faced challenges throughout the years.

A Valdosta native, Wilkinson always knew he wanted to open a business. His passion began in the early 1960s after earning an account­ing degree at Emory University.

Following graduation, Wilkinson applied to be a plant accountant for Playtex in Newnan, he said. While there, he discovered his love for pro­duction and creation.

“It just set me on fire,” he said. Wilkinson decided to go into busi­ness for himself, but the task was unfavorable in the beginning.

“I actually tried to go into busi­ness twice and failed,” he said.

Wilkinson started by making men’s trousers and later wrap­ around skirts for women. It wasn’t until he met a Quitman man making curtains that he found his niche.

The man asked Wilkinson to sell some of his curtains, but Wilkinson said he’d never thought he’d become a salesman; nevertheless, he agreed. “He was doing about 25,000 a year

and I started and in seven years, I was doing 6 million as the salesman,” Wilkinson said referring to the number of curtains sold.

“I was calling almost-everybody… I was all over then, but still in the back of my mind, I wanted to do something. I didn’t want to be a salesman. I wanted to make some­ thing.”

When the man from Quitman refused to sell part of his business to Wilkinson, Wilkinson decided to open his company on River Street.

With contacts stemming from his days in sales, he said he reached out to them to conduct business, but there was one in particular that wouldn’t give him a chance at first – Walmart.

Wilkinson said he was told his company was too small to become a Walmart vendor.

After approaching them several times, he said he succeeded in sell­ing the store his product Williams­ burg – a line of ruffled curtains with bows he designed.

“It was pretty tough at Walmart to get them to buy it because we were making bed spreads, window treatments and pillows and that meant three buyers had to sign off on this,.,Wilkinson said.            ·

The manufacturer sold $50,000-$60,000 per Walmart warehouse for Williamsburg, the owner said.

“I mean, literally, their truck would come by every week and pick up,” Wilkinson said.

The company was the number one ruffled curtain supplier for eight years at Walmart in the 1980s, he said.

Walmart asked him to relocate to China, he said, but he declined because he wanted to keep his busi­ness in the States.

With a payroll of $85,000 per week in 1988, the company became one of the area’s biggest employers but that has since changed.

Businesses started outsourcing more, and consumers didn’t want to buy items “made in America,” Wllk1nson said.

But his number one rule is “nev­er give up,” he said. “Something is never over until you say it is.”

Wilkinson said he didn’t establish his company to quit and that his goal is to stay in business.

With a total of 20 employees, the manufacturer now sells comforters, bed spreads, window treatments, pil­lows and custom replacement cush­ions for furniture online under the trademark, Thomasville at Home.

It sells to customers for the on­line home store Wayfair, its number one web client. Items ate shipped di­rectly to customers in the Southern states, the owner said.

Wllkinson’s also has a fabric store open by appointment with decorative fabric.

As for Fred Wilkinson, he said he has remained positive and optimistic and has grown out of his failures.

“Failure identifies things you need to figure out and know,” he said. “Failure is probably the most dynamic word you can come across because, without failure, you’re not trying to learn anything.”

He said he.believes people should always pursue their passions no matter what they are.

“That means, if you love what you’re doing, it is no longer work,” he said. ”A great part of the fatigue of work is doing things you don’t want to do.”

For his business, Wilkinson’s, Inc., he said he strives to create a product valued and respected by people.

“I want to keep holding the can­dle up of Made in America,” he said.

Wilkinson’s is located at 707 Gil Harbin Industrial Boulevard. Visit for more information.