Industry Views

Avanti Celebrates 50 Years

The Italian word “avanti” means to move forward and Avanti Linens (800-360-0836, avantilinens.com) has been living up to that concept for 50 years.
But it was not by chance that founder, Arthur Tauber, created a decorative bath towel company with wife, Sandra, back in 1969. Arthur spent nine years working in his uncle’s monogramming business, fielding complaints from buyers, who he came to know well—including Henry Laskin from Lord & Taylor.

Eventually, a disgreement with his uncle led to Tauber’s dismissal. “I was out of a job, walking the streets, when I bumped into Laskin. He told me to be in his office the next day. He sat me down for three hours and just told me about life,” says Tauber.

Then Arthur had an idea for a decorative towel with a bamboo motif he thought would sell. He asked Sandra to design the border. In 1960, Sandra graduated from Cornell University and married Arthur. She had a career as a teacher, but didn’t realize that creating that design would prompt a shift.

Arthur took the bamboo sketch to Laskin, who ordered several dozen for Lord & Taylor. There was a snag, however. Arthur needed a company name. He asked Sandra for help, urging her to consider something that started with “A.” Arthur says, “Because my name was Tauber, all the time I was in school I never was called on. The teachers always started with the top of the alphabet. When I was in the Army, they never reached me, because they never got down to the Ts—so I wanted the name to start with an A.” Sandra came up with Avanti because of its positive meaning.

So a family business began with Arthur handling merchandising and Sandra heading up product development and design. Arthur’s contacts from his stint at his uncle’s company came into play as he established a customer base. In1969, Avanti Linens sold almost $300,000 worth of decorative bath towels. Customers included Neiman Marcus, Jordan Marsh Florida and Filene’s of Boston. Offices were established on West 36 St. in Manhattan, but the company kept growing and moving until in 1986, it settled in Moonachie, NJ, where today it occupies 175,000 square feet and employs more than 150 workers. Over the years, product categories were added: in 2004, bath accessories and rugs, and shower curtains; in 2009, tablecloths, napkins, placemats, runners and kitchen textiles.

Kudos to the Taubers, who after 50 years are still living up to the charge embodied in their company’s name—full speed ahead!

Shown: Embroidered bands on 100 percent cotton velour, and Avanti Linens founders/principals, Arthur and Sandra Tauber.