Newsmakers

Latex International co–founder dies

William “Bill” D. Coffey, co–founder and chairman emeritus of Latex International, died Dec. 31 at his Connecticut home following a brief illness. He was 80.

In 1975, Coffey co–founded Latex International, the exclusive U.S.–based Talalay latex producer and supplier of latex mattress components and pillows. The company is headquartered in Shelton, Conn.

“Mr. Coffey was a pioneer in the latex foam rubber industry,” said John Pouschine, chairman of Latex International’s board and co–founder of Pouschine Cook Capital Partners, the company’s majority shareholder. “As a chemist, he helped revolutionize the Talalay latex manufacturing process. As a leader, he helped build the company of which we are so proud. He was a true gentleman with a passion for his company, its products and its employees. Lastly, Mr. Coffey was a dedicated husband, father and grandfather whose traits were something everyone would look to emulate.”

Coffey began his foam career in 1951 as a chemist for BFGoodrich’s Sponge Rubber Products Division. During his 24–year tenure there, he led the company’s polymer latex laboratory and drove the company’s research and development. During his career, he authored two rubber industry patents and consulted worldwide on the Talalay latex manufacturing process. He was a past chairman of the Rubber Manufacturers Association’s Latex Foam Technical Committee. Coffey also was active in the Naugatuck River Valley community.

He is survived by his wife, Mary; two sons, John and Richard; daughter Maureen; two brothers, Edward Jr. and Daniel; and five grandchildren.

Industry veteran Kovalsky retiring

Ticking supplier Soltex Inc. in Greenville, S.C., has announced that Norman Kovalsky, vice president of sales and marketing, will retire in March.

In April 2007, Kovalsky celebrated his 50th anniversary of working in the ticking industry. Kovalsky said he has enjoyed his many years in the business, but that he and his wife are looking forward to traveling and doing activities their schedules previously did not allow them to do.

Larry Starkey has been hired as vice president of sales, assuming Kovalsky’s responsibilities for all domestic and international sales for Soltex. He has experience in sales at Blumenthal Print Works and Park Place Corp.

Sales rep Gentry dies

Roy Eugene Gentry, a sales representative for supplier Hickory Springs Mfg. Co., died Oct. 27 in Chattanooga, Tenn. He was 63.

Gentry began his career as a sales rep for a tool manufacturer but had been working with suppliers to the mattress and furniture industries since 1970. He had been with Hickory Springs for the past 10 years.

He is survived by his wife, Glendal; son Bryan; mother Lillie; two sisters, Betty and Linda; two brothers, Larry and Ronald; and two granddaughters.

Bechik hires ops manager

Soft goods supplier Bechik Products Inc. has announced the addition of Dewayne Jeffries as senior operations manager at its binding tape and narrow fabric manufacturing facility in Centre, Ala. It is a new position. Jeffries reports to Bill Simon, president of the company, which has headquarters in Eagan, Minn.

Jeffries has an extensive background in narrow fabric manufacturing, including all aspects of weaving, warping, winding, needling and finishing. He previously worked as manufacturing manager for Weavexx. His duties at Bechik include managing bottom–line production costs, overseeing plant efficiency protocol and quality control, and assisting sales and marketing with new product development.

“Everyone at Bechik is very excited to have Dewayne on board,” Simon said. “His talent and experience in the narrow fabric manufacturing field will provide dividends to all of our tape customers in terms of product improvements, cost control and new product development.”