The Homer Laughlin China Company Names Fourth-Generation President, Again

Family companies steeped in history like The Homer Laughlin China Company (HLC), 142 years old and the largest remaining domestic tableware manufacturer in the United States, tend to write their stories based on generations of leadership, continuing progress, and increasing excellence. The chapters represent milestones, not just change. For the first time in HLC’s history, the mantle of leadership is being handed down, not to a successive generation, but from brother to sister. Homer Laughlin is pleased to announce Elizabeth McIlvain as its new president, effective March 18, 2013. As a fourth-generation owner of the company, Elizabeth takes over the position from her brother, Joseph Wells III, who is stepping down after 50 years of service.

Wells III will take his esteemed father’s place as chairman of the board.

In her new position, McIlvain will assist the board in overseeing all operations of the company’s two principal divisions - retail and commercial dinnerware - both operating out of the 37-acre manufacturing plant located in Newell, West Virginia. Her main focus is a continued emphasis on increasing sales companywide.

“Liz has been a sounding board for many in the company seeking a level-headed decision maker,” said Wells of his sister, who currently sits on the board as executive vice president. “She has been at my side for the past several years helping me manage day-to-day operations. The way I see it, this move now gives title to what she does every day at HLC. And I’m sure our father, Joe Wells Jr., would have been proud to see the company leadership transitioning this way.”

When asked about her plans, McIlvain said, “Business as usual, but kicked into high gear.” She explained, “We are growing. In the last decade, we have expanded manufacturing, introduced new brands, and assimilated new companies. All the while, our mission has remained true—leadership and innovation in the manufacture of quality lead-free china for the retail and commercial markets. For a company in its second century, growth and commitment to leadership means we run to the next opportunity. That’s what I will encourage. HLC will continue to write the history of the dinnerware category.”