Monday, May 16, 2011

Charles Talbot

Charles Talbot keeps it rolling in Sutton

By M. Helmuth Starhemberg
Last week, while researching a story about the closed Filtex yarn factory in Sutton, I had the opportunity to speak with Charles Talbot (72) who had been manager of this local institution from 1957 to 1993 and had been referred to me as the foremost historian of this company. I expected some old codger griping about former bosses, employees, conditions and pay but what I found was an embullient, bright and immensily likeable gentleman playing with his toy, an impeccably restored MGB roadster.
Not only that, but he probably remembers most of the up to 160 employees that worked for him over the years, many of him still defer to him as "Mr. Talbot" because while a good plant manager, he also had the people skills to maintain long time employees, was there to assist in their professional and private lifes and was generally the "good guy" at the plant while the owners were not exactly described thus in some recent interviews I did with former workers.

After disagreeing with Bill Sears, the president of Filtex, Charles left his job in 1993 and took over as the manager of Middleburg Yarns in Pennsylvania, where he excelled and while other yarn manufacturers yielded to the pressures of cheap and inferior Asian imports, (like Filtex eventually did), Charles Talbot made sure that the Pennsylvania plant maintained its market share. Offered another fife year contract, he decided to come home to his beloved Sutton where he has a beautiful home close to downtown.
However, he continued to do some consulting work for companies as far as India and appears today just as able to take over another plant as he was 20 years ago. About Filtex he shakes his head in sadness: "I am so sorry for the people. This closing did not have to happen. Other plants modernized and made it work".
One of my best friends is Louis Dandenault, our feisty town councillor, who told me "I worked for Mr. Talbot when I was 16 years old and he was a nice guy". This will be how Mr. Talbot shall be remembered in this town if he does not outlive us all, driving his beautiful antique through the apple orchards and reminiscing about a life well spent in meaningful work and in friendship to employees and neighbors in Sutton.

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