The late Robert Chapman, III, who had a passion for textile manufacturing and who served as chairman, chief executive officer, and treasurer of Inman Mills in Spartanburg, has received the 17th Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award. He was honoured at the National Cotton Council’s 2019 annual meeting which was held from February 8-10, 2019, in Texas.
The annual award, established in 1997, is named for Oscar Johnston, whose vision, genius, and tireless efforts were foremost in the shaping and organisation of the NCC. The award is presented to an individual, now deceased, who served the cotton industry, through the NCC, over a significant period of his or her active business career. The award also recognises those who exerted a positive influence on the industry and who demonstrated character and integrity as well as perseverance and maturation during that service, according to NCC.
The award was presented by outgoing NCC chairman Ron Craft to Ellis Fisher, a son-in-law of Chapman who serves as Inman Mills’ vice president and general counsel and who accepted the award on behalf of Chapman’s family.
Along with his service at (National Council of Textile Organisations) NCTO, Chapman served the NCC as a manufacturer delegate from 1999-2017, a Board member from 2005-2017 and as an advisor in 2016. He was a member of the NCC’s 1989 Cotton Leadership Class. A graduate of the University of the South, where he majored in economics, Chapman also earned degrees from the Institute of Textile Technology and Harvard Business School. In 1976, he joined Inman Mills, a company founded by his great-great uncle, James Chapman in 1901.
Craft noted that Chapman cared deeply about his family and his community, serving on the boards and in leadership positions for numerous organisations, among them the YMCA of Greater Spartanburg and the Spartanburg Regional Medical Center Foundation. He also was essential to a fund-raising effort to establish a facility for performing and visual arts, science and history in Spartanburg.
“Rob’s legacy is immense. In the last two decades, globalisation, particularly the entry of China into the World Trade Organisation (WTO), triggered the most disruptive change ever experienced by the US textile industry. When other companies were going out of business, Inman Mills responded with a strategy of innovation, reinvestment and a willingness to adapt. Today, thanks to Rob’s dedication and foresight, Inman Mills is one of the shining lights in the renaissance of the US textile industry. Rob also was a leader in crafting the US textile industry’s Washington DC–based policy response to globalisation. It speaks volumes that Rob’s peers chose him to lead NCTO in 2016-2017 when the debate on the now failed Trans-Pacific Partnership, the biggest challenge to the US textile industry since China’s 2001 entry into the WTO, was coming to a climax,” NCTO CEO Auggie Tantillo said. (GK)