From the very beginning, family is what has driven American Foam & Fabric to succeed! In 1980, Ed realized that he wanted to put his five children through private school. So, he opened a retail fabric store in Greenville, SC.
During the 1980s, the textile industry in South Carolina was booming and Ed slowly realized the value of purchasing and reselling textile closeouts. He would go from factory to factory and buy textile closeouts and seconds and take them to as many retail & upholstery shops that could be reached within a day’s drive.
But by the end of the 1980s, the bottom had fallen out of the market and at 42 years of age, Ed was faced with a choice: sink into bankruptcy, or create a new avenue towards success. One day, he got his chance to start a new career. An investment from a trusted partner led Ed to purchase a laminator, which he used to start pairing fabric and foam, specifically for the aftermarket and OEM match-up for sunroof installers.
It was a long, hard road to growth. Ed and his employees used to high-five whenever they did a thousand yards in a day; at the time, that was an enormous number. Sometimes he would sleep in his truck, because he couldn’t afford a hotel room.
Then, Ed’s last child graduated from college and he was slowly able to take everything that he had learned in business and combine them with the many relationships he had built over the years to transform American Foam & Fabric into an incredible success story.
Ed’s passion for creating, building, and sustaining relationships has formed the core of American Foam & Fabric’s success. When they first opened their doors, AFF was one of seven businesses in the textile automotive headliner aftermarket. Today, AFF is basically the only one still standing! All of AFF’s continued growth has flowed from Ed’s dedication to both his customers and employees.
Born and raised in Virginia, Ed Flanary has been in textiles almost his entire adult career. Ed graduated from Bob Jones Academy, and later attended the Free Will Baptist Bible College in Nashville, TN. Ed entered the textile business in the early 1980s, and became determined to find a way to put his children through private school. A retail fabric store led to a transition to wholesale textiles, which put Ed on the path towards opening American Foam & Fabric in 1990. Ever since, Ed has focused on building his business by treating his customers like family. In his current role, Ed travels far and wide to locations including Puerto Rico, Mexico, Canada, Dubai, China, Thailand, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Greece, and many more, helping build AFF’s reach into a global market. In his spare time, he is active in his church, and enjoys dinner & movies with his grandkids.
Stephen Flanary has been in the textile business since the age of 13. A graduate of the South Carolina Governor’s School, he worked for the family business while in college at Bob Jones University and then Liberty College. Post-college, Stephen went into wholesale mortgage banking/brokering for 7 years. With the growth of American Foam & Fabric at a crucial juncture, Stephen returned to the family business in 2006, helping the company bring on more accounts in a sales role. With Stephen, AFF continued to grow and prosper, and in 2011, he was named AFF’s President and CEO. In his current role, Stephen manages day-to-day operations, and oversees product development, new markets, and new products for existing markets. In his spare time, he is a soccer coach & referee with the YMCA, is active in his local church, and is dedicated to his family.