A. Leon Capel, Jr.
A. Leon Capel, Jr., an innovator in the rug industry for nearly 60 years, led Capel Inc., America’s oldest rug manufacturer, from 1954 until his retirement in 2005. Working together with his five brothers, he led the company founded by his father in Troy, N.C., in 1917 through a remarkable period of growth. Under his direction, Capel expanded from two to five factories and from $1 million to $55 million in sales worldwide, employing 800 in a town of only 3,200.
A visionary leader in rug manufacturing, sales, design, display and marketing, Capel Inc. was for decades the only rug manufacturer with its own spinning mill (Capelsie Mills), weaving division, dye house and sales force, as well as showrooms in 10 U.S. cities. In 1965, as a result of his foresight, Capel became the first rug manufacturer to fully computerize inventory, accounts, payrolls, payables and receivables. The company also was the only rug manufacturer to successfully sell retail powerhouses Sears, Montgomery Ward, J.C. Penney and Spiegel — all major competitors with each other — at the same time. A master of creativity, Mr. Capel is known for devising unusual promotions to drive showroom attendance at markets. He also is recognized for developing innovative in-store rug display racks, now considered the industry standard.
Until his retirement in 2005, Mr. Capel served as executive director and board chairman for Capel Inc., as well as executive director of Capelsie Mills Inc., Capel Real Estate & Development and U.S. Rug Co. The company has maintained a showroom in High Point from 1954 until today, marketing and exporting rugs throughout the world. The company has received multiple awards over the years for its excellent customer service.
Widely known as “someone everyone would like to work for, Mr. Capel has generously supported the industry, serving on the Governors Travel Council for Exports to Europe, Far East & South America from 1965 to 1985. He was Floor Covering Advisor to High Point/Market Square and to the Atlanta Merchandise Mart. He served with the N.C. Department of Commerce for Domestic Exports and with the National Home Furnishings League in Dallas. He has mentored many and continues to visit home furnishings markets and speak at civic clubs and schools.
Mr. Capel’s love for the arts has led to the company’s support of the N.C. Symphony, as well as Trinity Music Academy, which provides local children with free instruction in 19 instruments. A U.S. Army veteran, Mr. Capel has served on the Board of Trustees and Board of Visitors of the University of North Carolina and as a past director for the N.C. Energy Policy Council. He has served the Montgomery Memorial Hospital, U.S. Carpet Golf Trade Assn., Troy Rotary Club, Montgomery United Services, Troy Industrial Development Commission, Trinity United Methodist Church, Montgomery County Boy Scouts of America, Save Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, First Health Hospital, Montgomery County Elephant Club, and was county chairman for two North Carolina governors — James Holshouser and Jim Martin.