“The true key to any of our success is due to people. Culp is blessed with hundreds of talented associates, and their passion for the business is contagious.” – Iv Culp
Iv Culp has been with Culp, Inc. for almost 20 years. Although he has not worked in the business his entire life, he grew up around it and admired the way that his grandfather and father built the company. He gained gratitude for its history, culture, and values. Iv’s current role as President and COO of Culp, Inc. allows him to carry on the legacy of the company as he continues to build on the foundation established before him.
Q&A with Iv Culp, President and COO of Culp
What do you look forward to every day at Culp?
The pace – we operate with efficient speed, and every day brings a new opportunity or challenge, and it's fun! I enjoy coming to work to see what’s next. I’m proud that we've transformed to become a global company, and a lot of things have come together to make Culp Inc. world-class.
Describe the culture and environment of Culp.
To me that one's pretty easy. The culture of Culp is that we are a collaborative company. We prefer to do everything in a respectful and team-based setting, and if we operate in this collaborative nature, success is sure to follow.
What is something that people would be surprised to hear about CHF, the mattress fabric business of Culp?
Everyone is surprised to learn how decorative and stylish this business is, and they often ask why we focus so much on our product design. Most people recognize that mattresses will be covered with sheets, so they may wonder, “Who cares what the product looks like?” We have terrific designers that are innovating every day to make products look unique and offer useful value. We view ourselves as furniture designers. Anything on a retail floor is a piece of art to us, and we're providing the packaging. Consumers want to buy mattresses that are fashionable and functional, so product design is critical.
What lessons have you learned in your role?
As I think back to the way my dad and my grandfather ran the business, I have a real sense of gratitude. I learned how to develop a strong work ethic, and I admired their commitment to the business and to our associates. We truly believe at Culp that to whom much is given, much is required. We have an opportunity to enrich and to support the lives of our associates, while doing great things for our industry and for the environment as a whole. We're constantly trying to do the right thing for our business, for our associates, and for our industry.
How do you want consumers to feel when they interact with your product?
We want consumers to feel the passion, service, and quality that we put behind everything that we do. We want consumers, manufacturers, and retailers to see the effort and innovation that we've put into the products. Today we're a public company (NYSE: CULP), but what makes the company special is that we still operate as a family business, so we're a hybrid model. Our customers can have the best of both worlds when they partner with us.
Can you describe something that is unique to Culp?
Again, we truly value our associates, and we have many amazing people that have been with Culp for a long time. We value opinions every day, and we clearly recognize that people in certain jobs and responsibilities know much more about those positions than we do. They are free to share their ideas and opinions openly and to execute them to make Culp better. One of the ways I feel most rewarded is when our teams are operating very efficiently – everyone can feel that.
What challenges do you face in this industry and what is your approach in solving them?
We are supplying products for the masses. Our business is very competitive. There are companies selling new products in our industry every day, so it’s important for us to be on the forefront of creativity and innovation. If we do that, we can stand out from the crowd, and if we back that innovation with service and excellent quality, we will win.
What are the benefits of USA manufacturing?
Manufacturing in the USA provides several benefits to Culp, Inc. We have world class design and R&D teams that run our development processes in the USA, so we have easy access to all of our prototyping. Our localized manufacturing also assists with the start-up of large programs and enables Culp to provide excellent customer service. We focus on a blended model, incorporating strong production resources in the USA, Canada, China, Haiti, and Turkey.
How do you envision the future of Culp Inc.?
I envision a special and bright future for Culp. We have invested heavily in our innovation and manufacturing resources, and we have now expanded our distribution capabilities to service both Business to Business and Business to Consumer. There are great synergies amongst all of Culp’s business divisions, and we are working together to develop new products every day.
The true key to any success is due to people. Culp is blessed with 1200+ associates, and their passion for the business is contagious. The most important lesson for any leader or company is to be surrounded with great people, and at Culp, we have that in spades!