Local furniture maker changes hands

Posted Thursday, May. 02, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Kisabeth Furniture, which has been family-owned in Fort Worth since it started 55 years ago, has been sold to a group of investors that promises to carry on the tradition of building high-quality custom pieces.

Keith Webster, who worked as a broker and analyst in commercial real estate for several years, will run the day-to-day operations of the business. He decided on a career change after graduating in December from TCU with an MBA.

Webster said he heard about the company being for sale and “all the pieces clicked.” The sale closed in three weeks, and he took the helm of the 25-employee company March 18, he said.

Webster has three investors: his mother, Joy Webster, and family friends Hal and Kathy Sparrow of Waxahachie.

The group bought the company from Barry Wasser, who is the son-in-law of Carl Kisabeth, who started the company in 1958. The company, in a 35,000-square-foot warehouse at 5320 Glenview Drive, makes handcrafted furniture for residential, contract, commercial and hospitality uses.

Kisabeth “wanted to provide designers and architects with a source of quality custom furniture that would give them unlimited creative freedom,” the new owners said. “Those traditions of handcrafting and attention to detail were, and will remain, the cornerstone of the company’s manufacturing standards.”

“This is an amazing opportunity,” Webster said.

Airport CEO grounded

The CEO at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport finds himself in an unusual position. He can’t fly.

Two weeks ago, Jeff Fegan had surgery to repair a detached retina. As part of the vitrectomy procedure, a gas bubble was injected into the eye to help the retina reattach itself. He has returned to work, but he’s “grounded” for six more weeks as part of the recovery, he told our business editor, Steve Kaskovich.

Hopefully, Fegan will be ready to travel this fall. He is scheduled to retire in September.

But until then, he is overseeing the airport’s massive $2 billion terminal renovation project. With President Barack Obama commenting Tuesday that airport infrastructure funds were being diverted to pay air traffic controllers to prevent furloughs, Fegan said he does not expect DFW Airport to have any federal funding cut.

“Most of our FAA-related projects have already been allocated and the money spent,” Fegan told staff writer Andrea Ahles on Tuesday after the airport board’s committee meetings. Last month, the airport reopened its fire training academy, which had been upgraded as part of the FAA’s airport improvement program. This fiscal year, DFW received $12 million in funds from AIP.

Fegan said he agreed with Obama’s assessment that U.S. airports have fallen behind other international airports when it comes to a good customer experience.

“U.S. airports, which at one time were leaders in the world, have not kept up with investments, especially compared to international airports in China, Asia, and the Middle East,” Fegan said. “We have lost our position in terms of having the best airports in the world.”

The airport is spending $1 million a day for the next four years, improving its decades-old Terminal A, B, C and E.

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727 sabaker@star-telegram.com Jim Fuquay, 817-390-7552 jfuquay@star-telegram.com Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718 barry@star-telegram.com

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