Looking Towards the Future
Whereas Forrest Kyle was the driving force behind the inception of Texans Incorporated, Tommy Young took it to the next level. With Young now at the helm as General Manager, Texans was prepared to control its own destiny. Following Mar-Lita's departure Texans sought different avenues for distribution, selling lamp bases to various companies that would assemble and sell finished products. But it was soon apparent that the bottom-line was anything but healthy. Something more was needed to establish a solid financial foothold for the company. An interesting solution came through the establishment of Texas Ceramic Studio, a shrewd move that infused the struggling upstart company with operating capital. TCS was created through the financial might of local businessmen, sympathetic to the plight of Texans Inc., who provided capital when it was so desperately needed.
TCS countered the loss of the Mar-Lita assembly and sales branch, setting up an assembly department and creating a network of sales representatives. The new company took over all the duties previously performed by Mar-Lita, including shade manufacture, a key component to making and marketing completed products. The necessary equipment was purchased in Tyler, Texas, possibly from Richard Dunn, who's Midwest Pottery had been located in the town. Established in February of 1954, Texas Ceramics Studio was managed by Raymond Morgan, with Clinton W. Ford serving as superintendent. This was truly a "win-win" situation, as it proved to be a profitable venture for all involved.
Another void left by the dissolution of Mar-Lita was in the design department. An artist was needed to replace Bob Hawn, and one was found, over 250 miles away in Tyler. Howard Kron began his pottery design career in California, creating various products at Haldeman Potteries during the late '30s. The 1940s found him in Morton, Illinois, working in the capacity of designer and ceramics engineer for Midwest Pottery, one of several area potteries that had roots in the Rapp family. Following a disastrous fire at the Morton facility, he followed Midwest's manager Richard Dunn to South Milwaukee, Wisconsin and then again to Tyler, Texas. Upon the closing of Midwest Pottery Kron did some design work for nearby Gilmer Pottery, as that company was expanding beyond its production of bathroom accessories to include giftware to target the florist trade. Gilmer being but 40 miles from Tyler, Kron sculpted new designs and made master molds from his garage, traveling to the pottery as needed. This system, maintained even during his first years with Texans, allowed him to work in isolation from the noise and activity of pottery production. It was also an ideal environment in which to train an apprentice. Tyler native Richard Gunter expressed interest in learning the craft, and began to assist in Kron's mold making. Gunter was building a foundation on basic techniques, but his role in the history of Texans was yet to be established. The addition of Kron to the lineup completed the restructuring process, enabling Texans to focus on the business at hand, making great products.