Gail Pittman Inc. focusing growth on design and licensing

by For the MBJ

Published: April 28,2008

Gail Pittman Inc. is one of the last manufacturing plants of its kind in the United States. What began as a hobby at Gail Pittman’s kitchen table 27 years ago has grown into a major manufacturing and design company, turning out dishes, serving pieces and home accessories.

“We make all of our own paint and clay,” explained Natalie Dillon, director of design for Gail Pittman Inc. “People are often surprised by the scale of the operation we have here in Ridgeland. Some of our kilns are the size of boxcars.”

Because of the company’s location in the United States, many hotels, casinos and restaurants have become good customers.

“We can do custom work for them, and they don’t have to wait for shipments to come in from overseas,” Dillon said. “We do a lot of corporate work. They like the fact that it is all hand painted and restaurant ready.”

As a matter of fact, custom design work and licensing is a big part of Gail Pittman Inc. “What people may not know about us,” said the company’s founder, Gail Pittman, “is that for the last several years, we have been focusing the growth of our company in the area of design and licensing.”

Southern Living at HOME is one of the major companies Gail Pittman Inc. does design work for. The home products division of Southern Living magazine, the company has hired Pittman as its creative director. “That’s my job now. I design for Southern Living at HOME and work on sourcing items for our catalog.”

Southern Living at HOME is a direct marketing company with products sold at home parties. “The things in our catalog can’t be found anywhere else, including the Gail Pittman designs. They are exclusive to our catalog.”

Not only does Dillon do design work for Gail Pittman Inc., she handles public relations for the company and she is Pittman’s daughter. She has taken her mom’s place at the manufacturing facility in Ridgeland.

Pittman said that as the company has grown and evolved, there have been many avenues and opportunities that have presented themselves. Some of those opportunities include doing design work for Donald Trump’s restaurants to a project with Paula Deen.

“For a business to grow,” Pittman explained, “you have to be willing to branch into different areas to meet the challenges of the economy.”

And while designing and licensing have become growth areas for the company, manufacturing is still just as important.

“We fill a niche,” said Pittman. “What we have in Ridgeland is one of the last manufacturing companies of its kind in the country. We can do corporate work and work for the charities we love so much. But what may be large numbers for our plant may be small potatoes for some of the huge plants overseas.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer S.J. Anderson at andersonwrites@yahoo.com .

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