“In fact, Ken Meredith was really the starter of Oxford Industries.” – James C. Wise, Architect, 1973
In the 1923 Cleveland (OH) City Directory, Kenneth Meredith was a foreman at Rich-Sampliner Knitting Mills Company.
By the 1929 Cleveland City Directory, Kenneth A. Meredith was listed as being occupied in “knit goods.” In the 1931 Cleveland City Directory, he was listed as being a “manufacturer’s agent” residing and working out of the same address on Euclid Avenue.
In the 1932 Atlanta City Directory, Kenneth A. Meredith was listed as being a “manufacturer’s agent.” This indicates he and his wife, Hazel, had relocated from Cleveland, Ohio to Atlanta, Georgia sometime in 1931.
By the 1936 Atlanta City Directory listing, Kenneth A. Meredith had created his own knit goods distributing business with offices located on Whitehall Street, SW, Atlanta. His listing remained generally the same in 1937, 1938, 1939, and 1941. By 1942, Meredith had expanded his footprint to include an office on 7th Avenue inNew York (near the present-day Madison Square Gardens). His listing in Manhattan remained generally the same in 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, and 1949.
In the 1943 Atlanta City Directory, the listing for Oxford Company, clothing manufacturer located at 638 Lee Street SW, noted Max J. Friedman as president and treasurer. Of note, city directory listings were compiled in the fall of the preceding year (that is, fall 1942 in this case).
The earliest confirmed reference to a business relationship existing between Kenneth Meredith and the Laniers is in 1943. On May 17, 1943, Samuel Rothberg conveyed the lot and building known as 151 Spring Street, NW, Atlanta to “Lanier-Meredith Company, a partnership composed of J. Hicks Lanier, Sartain Lanier, Thomas H. Lanier and Kenneth Meredith” [Fulton County Deed Book 1943, Page 356].
In the 1944 Atlanta City Directory, the listing for Oxford Manufacturing Company listed J. Hicks, Sartain, and Thomas H.Lanier, Kenneth Meredith affiliated with the company.
In January 1946, “Lanier-Meredith Company, a partnership composed of Kenneth A. Meredith, J. Hicks Lanier, Sartain Lanier, and Thomas H. Lanier” purchased a residential lot and house at 417 West Wesley Road. This was Sartain and Claudia Lanier’s residence [Fulton County Deed Book 2096, Page 270]. It was deeded to Sartain and Claudia in November 1947 [Fulton County Deed Book 2274, Page 389].
By 1947, Ken Meredith was listed as President of Oxford Manufacturing Company. He remained listed as President of Oxford Manufacturing Company through the 1950 Atlanta City Directory.
In 1948, the Lanier-Meredith Company purchased a lot and building at 292 Lambert Street, NW, Atlanta. This would become Oxford Manufacturing Company’s warehouse [Fulton County Deed Book 2369, Page 197].
Fulton County deed records provide some insight into the original agreement and dissolution of the partnership between the Laniers and Ken Meredith. On February 28, 1950, Kenneth A. Meredith conveyed his “33/100th undivided interest in” two buildings in downtown Atlanta to “Lanier Management Company, a partnership composed of J. Hicks Lanier, Sartain Lanier and Thomas H. Lanier.” The buildings and land were known as 292 Lambert Street, NW, Atlanta and 151-155 Spring Street, NW, Atlanta [Fulton County (Ga.) Deed Book 2536, Page 154].
Oxford Manufacturing Company’s warehouse was at 292 Lambert Street and the offices were at 151 Spring Street.
The 1950 Warranty Deed between Ken Meredith and the Laniers indicates that Ken Meredith owned one third of Oxford Manufacturing Company and the Laniers owned the other two-thirds collectively. Thus, Ken Meredith was largest single shareholder of Oxford Manufacturing Company prior to 1950. This would explain his being listed as President of the company and the Lanier brothers each being listed as Vice-Presidents.
By 1951, Ken Meredith was no longer listed as affiliated with Oxford Manufacturing Company. He is listed as a manufacturers representative. Sartain Lanier is listed as President of Oxford Manufacturing Company in 1951.
By the 1953 Atlanta City Directory, Ken Meredith is no longer listed in Atlanta; however, he is listed in the 1953 Manhattan City Directory residing on Park Avenue in the Murray Hill area (near the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building).
The Laniers went on to grow Oxford Manufacturing Company and take Oxford Industries public on the New York Stock Exchange.