Matouk’s Goncalves manages with high levels of craftsmanship

BUILDING BLOCK: To create space for a growing workforce, John Matouk & Co. Chief Operating Officer Milton Goncalves added a second manufacturing shift and acquired an additional building next to Matouk’s existing operation at an industrial park on Airport Road in Fall River. 
PBN PHOTO/TRACY JENKINS
BUILDING BLOCK: To create space for a growing workforce, John Matouk & Co. Chief Operating Officer Milton Goncalves added a second manufacturing shift and acquired an additional building next to Matouk’s existing operation at an industrial park on Airport Road in Fall River. 
PBN PHOTO/TRACY JENKINS

PBN C-Suite 2024 Awards
LARGE PRIVATE COMPANY: Milton Goncalves
John Matouk & Co. | Chief operating officer


COMMON WISDOM HAS IT that the once mighty textile industry has left Fall River – and all of New England – first to go south, and then overseas.

But there are exceptions. One of them is Fall River-based John Matouk & Co., which manufactures and sells high-end bedding, towels, table linens, robes and more. The family-owned company, which employs 262 people, was started by John Matouk in 1929 in New Bedford and moved to Fall River in 2005.

Matouk’s chief operating officer, Milton Goncalves, says the company occupies a very particular niche in the textile world manufacturing luxury, highly customized products with a high level of craftsmanship. Much like the linens that Matouk produces and sells around the world, Goncalves tends to his core responsibilities with consistency and excellence.

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Goncalves says his daily duties as Matouk’s top operations leader include manufacturing, supply chain management, quality control and environmental sustainability. Goncalves says that he on a day-to-day basis might be reviewing a new product, checking out an issue on the factory floor or negotiating for a new piece of equipment.

Those simple tasks proved large for ­Matouk. Over the last three years, the company’s gross revenue has increased by close to 52%, from $49 million in 2020 to $74.5 million in 2022.

“The company has grown at a tremendous rate since I’ve been here,” Goncalves said. “We’ve been able to take advantages of opportunities in the market. I think my job is to help drive a culture of operational excellence.”

Goncalves, 52, was born in New Bedford to Portuguese immigrant parents. Professionally, he worked for 19 years at Acushnet Holdings Corp. – which manufactures golf accessories and products such as Titleist golf balls – then at Sonoco Product Co.’s Protective Solutions Division, which includes making automotive parts, before joining Matouk in 2017.

“It was the right time for a change,” Goncalves said. “It was a unique opportunity to work for a [Massachusetts] south coast company that was poised for significant growth.”

Goncalves also said that he felt he could make more impact at a family company, such as Matouk, than at a large multinational enterprise such as Sonoco.

Company CEO George Matouk called Goncalves the company’s “problem-solver-in-chief,” simultaneously managing multiple projects of varying complexity. As a prime example, Matouk pointed to a dramatic escalation in demand for the company’s products during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. More people were spending money on their homes, he said, since they couldn’t travel or go out.

That was a good thing for Matouk, but it also led to some challenges. Matouk had to expand capacity, which meant hiring more workers. And it had to find space for its employees, old and new, when social distancing made it difficult to fit everyone on the existing factory floor.

Matouk said Goncalves found and trained more workers. To create the space for everyone, Goncalves added a second manufacturing shift and acquired an additional building next to Matouk’s existing operation at an industrial park on Airport Road in Fall River.

Goncalves also praised Matouk’s highly skilled workforce, referring to the company’s employees as “a very specialized group of people, doing very specialized things” using equipment that can range from new automated cutting and quilting machines to Singer sewing machines that date back to 1948.

Not everyone can do it, Goncalves said. Maintaining a perfect 4-inch hem all the way across a 180-inch flat sheet is not easy. Some jobs have stayed in the same family across several generations.

Goncalves said the company has adapted its continuous skills development program to make sure employees are up to speed, and that vital institutional knowledge is not lost. Goncalves said the continuing skills development process has created and documented hundreds of standard operating procedures for Matouk that go to an operations steering team, which Goncalves leads.

“Manufacturing is a tough business in the U.S.,” Goncalves said. “I’m proud that we’re engaging, empowering and mentoring our employees, and doing it at every level.”

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