When your family name is behind the product
Doing right by your customers is more than a business goal
—it means everything.
A brief history of downlite
The Werthaiser family business begins in Europe, creating a down and feather collection system from farms across the region. The family would wash and process fill for use by other companies in the production of a wide variety of consumer products. The business gains momentum by operating with integrity, high quality, and transparency – all features of DOWNLITE today. The business flourishes until the start of the Second World War.
After the war, the Werthaiser family immigrates to the United States, working odd jobs and learning English until they could re-start their business. In 1952, Harry Werthaiser and his brothers begin again, processing and selling feather down for use in bedding and outdoor products.
The business grows by supplying home and bedding companies, but also to outdoor brands such as Pacific Trails, The North Face, Marmot, and Gerry. With growth comes expansion—and a new facility near Crosley Field in Cincinnati.
The Werthaiser family travels with the U.S. Commerce Department on a trade mission to China in 1972. As a result of this collaborative mission, they gain access to much larger supplies of down and feather for the U.S. market. Larry and Marvin Werthaiser focus on finished goods for the home sector, creating the company Love Pillow in 1974. In 1978, Love Pillow transforms into DOWNLITE. LL Bean is their first customer—a relationship that carries on today.
In 1983, DOWNLITE builds a major feather and down processing plant in Blue Ash, Ohio, where operations continue today. The business continues to grow.
DOWNLITE expands by supplying premium bedding to Macy’s, and into synthetics with its first brand license—PrimaLoft. DOWNLITE also opens its first factory outlet store for bedding and builds brand partnerships in outdoor apparel.
In 2006, DOWNLITE opens an office in China to provide Quality Assurance, Quality Control and Customer Service. In 2008, James Lape, formerly of Levi Strauss, becomes the company’s first outside CEO. By the late 2000s, Downlite will expand its bedding licensing with several new partnerships, including Eddie Bauer and Tommy Bahama. In the early 2010s, Downlite rapidly expands its Home and Hospitality divisions.
DOWNLITE forms strategic relationships with USA farms. With the highest animal welfare and traceability standards worldwide, these Amish-led farms continue to pave the way for future generations with the most environmentally-responsible raising and processing techniques and best practices.
DOWNLITE would continue its rapid expansion from 2010 through today, adding customers such as Patagonia, The North Face, Columbia, Marmot, RL, REI, LLL, and Canada Goose—all of which remain valued customers.
Joe Crawford, former CEO of Pacific Coast Feather, becomes CEO of DOWNLITE, bringing 40 years of experience to the organization. DOWNLITE takes on an even stronger industry leadership role as an active member of the American Down & Feather Council, along with the Standards Committee and the Down & Feather Bureau.
The company now employs hundreds of people in the United States, China, Canada and Europe.
Meet the team
Hailey Werthaiser Parnes
VP Business Development
Director China Division
Customer Service Manager, China Division
Delivering comfort and performance for generations
Where we are today
- A Fast-Growing, Multi-Generational Family Business
- Committed to #TheDownliteDifference
- Extending Our Global Reach
Our family business dates back to the 1800s, when Ester Werthaiser established a business supplying high-quality down and feather to local apparel-makers. Her ethical approach was uncompromising–honesty, reliability and quality were her calling cards.
The business thrived and grew until the Second World War began, ravaging the multi-generational family business. At the war’s end, the surviving Werthaiser family members left for America with nothing more than dreams of a better life. With extensive production expertise and connections back home, they began to work, establishing a new feather and down processing company and taking steps to recover what was lost.
The family worked tirelessly to support their children, create a new life and restart the business in America. Larry and Marvin Werthaiser utilized the same business fundamentals of respect, integrity and ethics to create today’s DOWNLITE—bringing in partner Bob Altbaier early on to help drive the company’s expansion.
We continue to build on that remarkable legacy. Now, DOWNLITE is an industry leader, a trusted partner to some of the world’s leading outdoor performance and lifestyle brands and a reliable supplier of the finest quality down and feather products.
A business built
Everything we do is rooted in a more than 100-year-old company legacy built through generations of industry experience; an emphasis on mutual respect, sustainability and ethical business practices guide our decision-making and serve as the foundation for #TheDownliteDifference. Reaching that bar takes a special group of people, and we’re proud to say that our culture is what drives our company. It’s the reason why our team members and customers have been with us for so long.
Let us demonstrate #TheDownliteDifference to you—supporting your organization, your teams and building a place where we can thrive together.