NEW YORK — In a move to boost its cadre of top executives, textile powerhouse Milliken & Co. promoted its second-in-command to the role of executive vice chairman and added a fourth manager to the office of the chairman.

Tom Malone, who in 1983 was named president and is seen as the person most likely to succeed Roger Milliken as chairman and chief executive officer, in his new post as executive vice chairman will be charged with charting future strategic directions for the company.

"To this position, Tom will be bringing to bear his long experience, wisdom, energy and advice to ensure the long-term continuity and successful future of our company," said Roger Milliken in a statement.

Ashley Allen was named president and chief operating officer, succeeding Malone. He will join the office of the chairman, which also includes Milliken, Malone and chief financial officer Jerry Pribanic. John Rekers succeeded Allen as president of Milliken’s chemical business.

Roger Milliken, who turns 87 next month, will continue to lead the company in his current post, a spokesman said.

Succession has long been a key issue at Milliken. Ceo Milliken, a legend of the textile industry, named Malone to his post almost two decades ago in an effort to avoid the sort of crisis a family-owned business can face without a clear succession plan. Ownership of the company remains primarily in the hands of the Milliken family, according to outside sources, and non-family executives are said not to be allowed to own company stock.

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