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Robert Talbott, Neckwear Entrepreneur, Jun 18, 1986

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2010 3:46 am    Post subject: Robert Talbott, Neckwear Entrepreneur, Jun 18, 1986 Reply with quote

San Jose Mercury News (CA) - June 20, 1986

Robert Talbott, the man whose ties drape the necks of some of the best-dressed men in America, died while taking a morning stroll near his Carmel Valley home on Wednesday.

Talbott, who was 80, died of a heart attack.

The neckwear king of Monterey had continued until his death to manage the tie manufacturing company he and his wife, Audrey, started in their Carmel living room 36 years ago.

''The Talbotts were a creative team unique to the tie industry, said Edwin T. Mosher, president of Mosher's Ltd. in the Vallco Fashion Park.

''What started as a hobby became an important force in West Coast men's fashion."

Over the years, the Talbotts' small cottage industry grew into an enormously successful fashion enterprise that this year will sell $20 million worth of apparel in 700 stores in the United States, Canada and Japan and employ 200 workers on a $4 million payroll.

The company's headquarters was moved several times as the operation repeatedly outgrew its space, until in 1972 the facility where more than 1 million ties will be produced this year was built next to the Monterey Peninsula Airport.

''He and his wife came into town and started this business out of their home, just the two of them, and everybody here always thinks of it as a little mom-and-pop operation," said Carmel Valley businessman Ed Haber.

''That's the way he made you feel about it, like it was just a little tie making shop. He was so folksy."

A native of Iowa, Talbott discovered the adage that "the tie makes the man" while sweeping floors in his father's corner drugstore. He was a teen-ager already balding and trying desperately to grow back his hair when a salesman gave him the idea to wear a bright, red bow tie.

''He told me," Talbott recounted in a recent interview, "that people won't notice that you're bald because they'll be busy looking at the tie."

It worked, and the red bow tie became a permanent part of Talbott's attire -- and eventually, the cornerstone of his business venture.

He was graduated from Grinnell College and Harvard Business School, and after jobs pumping gas and working as a newspaper publisher's assistant in Des Moines, Iowa, he and two partners started manufacturing a dog food called Vita-Rex in Washington. Later, he moved on to New York, where he was an executive with Bankers Security Life Insurance Co., a job he left in 1950 because, he said recently, "I'd have been CEO and dead a long time ago."

So the Talbotts moved to Carmel, where they had honeymooned, and started making the ties, an idea that first came to Audrey when friends in New York had admired the bow ties she made for her husband.

''She made all the ties in the early days," he said, and proudly added: "No one, in all of these years, has ever put on labels faster than Audrey. She still holds the record."

The Talbott name stitched on the back of the ties became well-known, in part because wealthy tourists visiting Pebble Beach and Carmel came to know the ties at his shop on Carmel's Ocean Avenue and went back home asking for more. Now, President Reagan and former President Ford are among those who reportedly wear Talbott ties.

''It was a unique exposure," said Mosher. "People became intrigued looking in this store with its drawers and drawers of nothing but ties. It's the best merchandising I've ever seen."

In 1983, the family started a wine-making venture in Carmel Valley, an operation headed by Talbott's son, Robb. Father, mother and son were the only stockholders in the Talbott tie enterprise.

Talbott's smile and jovial manner made him popular with employees, several of whom have worked for his company for more than 20 years, and in the Carmel community, where he served on the boards of the Robert Louis Stevenson School and the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.

''He had an instinctive talent for what was quality," said hospital President Thomas Tonkin, "but at the same time he was sensitive to the fact that good things don't have to be extravagant."

No services will be held, as Talbott requested. The family suggests sending memorial contributions to the Community Hospital or to Harvard Business School.

Edition: South County
Page: 1B
Copyright (c) 1986 San Jose Mercury News


Robert F. Talbott
San Francisco Chronicle (CA) - June 19, 1986

Robert F. Talbott, founder of the Monterey Peninsula necktie company that bore his name, died yesterday in his Carmel Valley home at the age of 80.

The company's distinctive hand-sewn silk ties now are sold in more than 700 stores in the United States and Japan.

Mr. Talbott was born Nov. 15, 1905, in Grinnell, Iowa, and graduated from Grinnell College in 1928. He received his MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1931 and worked in a variety of jobs around the country during the next few years.

In 1939, Mr. Talbott joined Bankers Security Life Insurance Co. in New York City and stayed with the company as executive vice president until he moved to Carmel in 1950.

He and his wife were the only two employees when he founded Robert Talbott Ties in 1950. The company now is one of the biggest employers on the Monterey Peninsula, with 200 workers and an annual payroll of more than $4 million.

Mr. Talbott was serving as chief executive officer of the company at the time of his death.

He is survived by his wife, Audrey; a son, Robert of Carmel; three brothers, John of Delray Beach, Fla., Stanley of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Arthur of Tiberon; and three children.

No services are planned. Donations may be made to the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, where he was a longtime trustee.

Edition: FINAL
Page: 33
Copyright (c) 1986 The Chronicle Publishing Co.
Claire Martin
CAGenWeb Monterey County Coordinator
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