Newell, W.Va.–Elizabeth McIlvain, a fourth-generation owner of the Homer Laughlin China Company, which makes Fiesta ware, was appointed president of the 142-year-old privately owned business. She will succeed her brother, Joseph Wells III, who worked at Homer Laughlin for 50 years.
In her new position, McIlvain will oversee all operations of the company’s retail and commercial divisions, as well as Hall China, which was acquired by Homer Laughlin in 2010.
Wells, who will now serve as chairman of the board, said, “Liz has been at my side for many years helping me manage day-to-day operations; this move gives title to what she does every day at Homer Laughlin. Our father would have been proud to see the company leadership transitioning this way.”
McIlvain is the first female president the company has seen since its inception in 1871. McIlvain’s great grandfather, William Edwin Wells (along with financial partner Louis I. Aaron), bought the business from founding brothers Homer and Shakespeare Laughlin in 1897. When W.E. Wells retired, he was succeeded by his eldest son (and McIlvain’s grandfather), Joseph M. Wells, Sr. J.M. Wells retired in 1959 and his son Joe Wells, Jr. (McIlvain’s father), took over the reins. He retired in 1986; Joseph Wells III was elected president in 2002.
The strong family leadership continues, the company said. McIlvain’s eldest daughter, Katie McIlvain, is gaining experience as an integral part of the Fiesta dinnerware sales team.
McIlvain said about the future of the company, “We will continue to write the history of the dinnerware category. HLC is in its second century and our mission remains true – leadership and innovation in the manufacture of quality lead-free china for the retail and commercial markets.”