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Homer Laughlin China Co. sells off dinnerware line

NEWELL — The Homer Laughlin China Co. has a new name and a new focus.

Company president Elizabeth McIlvain detailed the transaction in a letter that was distributed to factory employees, as operations currently didn’t allow her to share the news with them personally due to coronavirus measures.

The buyer, Steelite International, will manufacture all of HLC’s tableware site at its Newell location 90 days from the Tuesday, when the transaction is final. This will include the sale of the Hall China Co. food service division.

After that date, Steelite will be fully responsible for all HLC food service lines, except the Fiesta brand, which will continue to made in Newell and distributed by Steelite.

The Fiesta Tableware Co., which is HLC’s new name, retained ownership of the brand.

“This difficult decision was made after long and careful deliberation by our leadership team. Our food service division had not been profitable for some time, and the situation was no longer sustainable. We made the decision to help protect our company for the next generation of owners, employees and customers,” McIlvain said.

“We take great pride in our company’s history and legacy. Transferring our food service dinnerware brands to new ownership is never something we wanted to do.”

She concluded that the move will allow them to recommit to the Ohio Valley area.

“We can no longer afford to be complacent, and everyone will be held accountable for their actions. We need to reconnect to the sense of pride and ownership that helped build this great company,” the letter continued.

Homer Laughlin was founded in 1871 in East Liverpool by brothers Shakespeare and Homer Laughlin. It opened its Newell location in 1903. By the 1920s, all operations had been moved to Newell.

The New Castle, Pa.-based Steelite had been purchased by Arbor Investments, a private equity firm, from PNC Riverarch Capital in late December, according to information from PR Newswire.

John Miles is the president and chief executive officer of Steelite. Miles has more than 30 years of experience in the dinnerware business, having worked at Woodmere China and Homer Laughlin before joining Steelite in 1996.

Steelite is described as a world-leading manufacturer, designer, distributor and supplier of award-winning tabletop and buffet products for the hospitality and foodservice industries, and its products can be found in more than 140 countries, PR Newswire reported.

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