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Robert “Rob” Culp Succumbs to Cancer at 72

December 11, 2018


 Robert "Rob" G. Culp III.
Robert "Rob" G. Culp III.

HIGH POINT, N.C. — Robert "Rob" G. Culp III, one of the giants of the textile industry, lost his battle with leukemia on December 8.

Culp III was the co-founder (with his father) and chairman of Culp Inc.

He was born Sept. 11, 1946. Culp Inc. began in 1972 as an upholstery fabric mill and converter. Culp served as CEO of the publicly held company from 1981 to 2007 and served as chairman since 1990.

Industry insiders say that Culp’s greatest strength lay in his ability to spot a trend and source the product quickly at an attractive price for his American customers, especially in the upholstered furniture trade. At one time, Culp was a major producer of tufted velvet and later, a big supplier of bonded leather.

Ultimately, Culp, with 1,400 employees, became an international converter of upholstery and an agent for offshore suppliers of mattress fabrics like Boyteks of Turkey. Culp now has operations in the U.S., China, Canada, and Haiti.

Culp spent much of his life in High Point where he was a philanthropist, a member of the downtown advisory board, and a trustee of High Point University. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned his MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

"We deeply mourn the passing of our beloved friend, colleague and one of the company's founders, Rob Culp," says Frank Saxon, vice chairman and CEO of Culp. "He was widely recognized as a visionary and passionate leader who built a company known for innovation and an unwavering commitment to our customers. He carried this same vision with him in all activities with the company, and he inspired everyone around him to strive for the same standards of personal character and work ethic as he did."

Culp is survived by his wife, Susan; three children; a sister; a brother; and seven grandchildren.

His son, Iv Culp, is the chief operating officer and president of the company's mattress division.


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