By David Gill
With an event last month at New York’s Tavern on the Green, Pendleton Woolen Mills raised the curtain on its 100th anniversary celebration, which will extend from now until the end of 2009.
Pendleton officially begins its second century in business next year. The company has manufactured its signature line of wool blankets from the beginning, and in later years has expanded its product offerings to include other top-of-the-bed products, decorative pillows, throws and apparel.
The company has dubbed its celebration “Weaving America’s Spirit Since 1909.” While the majority of home textiles manufacturing has migrated overseas, Pendleton has kept its manufacturing in this country. It currently owns and operates seven facilities.
“Pendleton is a family brand that has been nurtured and stewarded for its entire history, and that is set for the future,” C.M. “Mort” Bishop II, Pendleton’s president, said at the New York event. Bishop is one of several family members who are involved in Pendleton’s operations. The company was co-founded by his grandfather, Clarence M. Bishop, with his brothers, Roy and Chauncey. For many years, Clarence Bishop’s sons, C.M. Bishop Jr. and Broughton Bishop, served as Pendleton’s co-chief executive officers. Today, their sons are the company’s key executives; along with Mort Bishop, the son of C.M. Bishop Jr., John and Charles Bishop, Broughton Bishop’s sons, serve as vice presidents. Peter Bishop, also Broughton’s son, is manager of the company’s catalog/Internet division.
The family’s history in business extends a couple of generations before the company’s founding. Clarence Bishop Sr.’s grandfather, Thomas Kay, emigrated from England in the 1860s and helped organize a woolen mill in Brownsville, Ore. Kay then opened his own mill in 1889 in Salem, Ore. His eldest daughter, Fannie, married C.P. Bishop, a retail merchant. Their sons were Clarence, Roy and Chauncey.
Seasonal Pendleton catalogs, Pendleton stores and the company’s Web site, pendleton-usa.com, are two of the channels through which Pendleton products flow to consumers. The company also sells products through better department stores and specialty shops.
To help mark the anniversary, Pendleton will introduce its Centennial collection, which offers contemporary interpretations of iconic products from its design archive. The collection will include home items and men’s and women’s apparel. In addition, the company will debut a limited collection of apparel and home products under the “Spirit of the Peoples” pattern design, which will be created for the anniversary. This grouping will include a commemorative Indian trade blanket.
In apparel, Pendleton has partnered with Jill Rappaport, designer, author and entertainment reporter for NBC’s “The Today Show,” on a line of apparel that will be launched for the 2009 holidays. Called Pendleton by Jill Rappaport, the collection will include coats, skirts and status bags with designs inspired by antique Native American trade blankets.