EPKO began in the early 1900's as a small textile jobbing company named Louis Kovel and Son. The company occupied a storefront facility near downtown Chicago and sold piece goods to the local apparel cutting trade. At the time, Chicago was second only to New York City in the manufacture of men’s and women’s garments.
Louis Kovel’s son, Jerry Kovel, took over the reins in 1939 and expanded the business into finished textiles and sold to the furniture and automobile seat cover industries which were thriving in the Midwest at the time. The company was incorporated and named Kovel Textiles, Inc. In 1945, Jerry met a sewing thread salesman named Lewis Markin in a barbershop in the garment district of Chicago. The Mart barbershop was the hangout of choice for businessmen associated with the textile and garment trades. Kovel and Markin joined forces and formed a new company with an appropriately combined name—Komar Threads, a division of Kovel Textiles, Inc.
Post World War II brought on an unparalleled demand for consumer products and Komar Threads soon became one of the leading suppliers to the Midwestern needle industry. Komar sold thread to manufacturers of furniture, mattresses and bedding, companies that produced work gloves, canvas products, street apparel, and more. Howard Markin, son of Lewis Markin, joined the company in 1959 and Al Rothschild, son-in-law of Jerry Kovel came into the fold in 1965. They purchased the company from their respective families in 1970. Under their leadership, the company expanded rapidly both in volume and territory. In 1971, the Komar Threads division embarked upon a major West Coast expansion targeted at the booming Los Angeles jean apparel industry. Howard retired in 2005 and Komar was sold to a minority partner in December, 2012.
In 1974, Kovel Textiles, Inc. purchased an Illinois company called A. I. Epton & Sons, a distributor of automotive and upholstery products produced by the B. F. Goodrich Company. A. I. Epton also owned a fledgling wallcovering company called Midwestern Distribution Company which operated as exclusive distributor for B. F. Goodrich wallcovering products in Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. The corporation changed its name to EPKO Industries, Inc. and Jerry Epton, former owner of A. I. Epton & Sons, became a partner in the new enterprise until his retirement. In late 1979, Mike Glynn, sales and marketing manager of the B. F. Goodrich Company Wallcovering Division, joined EPKO Industries as General Manager of its wallcovering division, which became known as MDC Wallcoverings. The Business expanded; nationally with regional offices in principal cities. Mike today is a full partner in EPKO Industries, Inc..