Leib Oehmig: New NCTO Chairman

Leib Oehmig, president and CEO, Glen Raven Inc., was recently named chairman of the National Council of Textile Organizations.

Glen Raven CEO brings global textile business experience, hands-on approach to NCTO leadership.

TW Special Report

With a vibrant 30-year career at Glen Raven, N.C.-based Glen Raven Inc., Leib Oehmig is known for a leadership style that “… ensures a culture of integrity and innovation while maintaining the high standards of quality and service for which Glen Raven is known.”

Oehmig joined Glen Raven in 1989. During his career, he oversaw the construction and management of Glen Raven’s 1-million-square-foot Sunbrella® fabrics manufacturing center, served as president of Glen Raven Custom Fabrics LLC, and was named president and COO of Glen Raven Inc. In 2017, Oehmig was appointed president and CEO of Glen Raven upon Allen Gant’s retirement. Oehmig is the first non-family member to serve as CEO of the company.

At the 16th annual meeting of the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) in Washington, Oehmig was elected NCTO chairman. Textile World recently had the opportunity to talk to Oehmig about the state of the U.S. textile industry, and the role NCTO plays in the industry’s future.

Textile World: Congratulations on the NCTO chairmanship. Your words during your acceptance speech were characterized by many as heartfelt. You called for continued support of NCTO during its time of transition, as well as support for incoming NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas. Can you comment on your remarks for TW readers?

Leib Oehmig: Auggie Tantillo and his NCTO team, working hand-in-hand with industry leaders, have changed the perception of the U.S. textile industry, gained credibility as thought leaders in global trade, and earned our industry a seat at the table during trade negotiations. Therefore, we must remain fully engaged as we transition the leadership of many of our member companies and the organization that represents our interests in Washington, D.C. We are incredibly fortunate to have Kim Glas leading this team of talented associates and I look forward to building on the momentum that our industry has gained through active participation and strong financial support. Regardless of your position in the value chain, if your company benefits from a strong U.S. textile industry, then membership in NCTO is among the most important investments you can make.

TW: Glen Raven leadership and associates have served the industry through commitment to NCTO lending both time and financial support. How do you see the role of NCTO, and what does the organization mean to the U.S. textile industry?

Oehmig: My predecessor as CEO of Glen Raven, Allen Gant, along with other iconic leaders in our industry, understood very well the benefits of strong advocacy in the executive and legislative branches of government. In addition, they recognized that our industry must align around common goals and approach advocacy with “unity in purpose and vision,” to quote Gant from a 2005 article that was published in Textile World. Since 2004, NCTO has served as the voice of the U.S. textile industry in Washington, D.C., representing all sectors from fiber through fabric formation and finishing. Fifteen years later, with rapidly changing industry dynamics and globalization, there has never been a more important time for our industry to advocate with clear purpose and vision.

TW: As the leader of a global textile business, how do you see the current state of the industry, including current and/or future challenges and opportunities?

Oehmig: Although I am certainly not naïve to the global economic and geopolitical challenges that confront our industry, I am very optimistic about the future of the U.S. textile industry. Innovation, creativity and courageous leadership are alive and well. Therefore, I am excited to work with NCTO and industry leaders to produce a positive influence on key policy matters that affect our industry. That means developing strategies to proactively engage in the Trump administration’s trade agenda. Negotiations with China, Japan and the European Union will require diligence as we work to create opportunity, while defending against adverse legislative proposals.

TW: Trade has been a significant issue for the current administration. What are your thoughts as NCTO chairman as well as a CEO of a company with global business interests?

Oehmig: In my view, accelerated globalization will continue to shape strategies for both governments and the businesses who operate within their borders. Therefore, it is no longer a question of how to slow this momentum, but how does the U.S. textile industry further engage the Trump administration in the process of developing business-friendly trade policies? Further, how do we anticipate U.S. textile policy needs prior to a crisis so that we can best position the industry to take advantage of opportunities that may be available?

TW: What are your thoughts on the NCTO leadership transition as Augustine D. “Auggie” Tantillo retires and Kimberly Glas joins the organization as president and CEO?

Oehmig: The U.S. textile industry owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Auggie Tantillo for investing so much of himself into pushing our industry forward. In addition to his exemplary technical knowledge, the thing you hear most about Auggie are compliments regarding his character and integrity. Our industry has benefited greatly from the immense respect Auggie has earned from his peers, members of Congress and their staffs.

Kim Glas is bringing her own experiences, perspective and ideas to NCTO. Throughout the interview process, Kim clearly demonstrated her desire to lead an organization that is willing to embrace change and affect policy decisions as opposed to reacting.

I feel that NCTO has a history of adapting to the rapidly changing dynamics in global trade and will be receptive to new ideas and strategies from Kim and her team. We are excited for both Auggie and Kim, and very optimistic regarding the future of NCTO.

TW: Imagine it’s April 2020 and you are looking back on your year as chairman. Where is NCTO, and what contributions did you make to the organization?

Oehmig: I am confident that, throughout this next year, NCTO members will actively engage in policy debate and offer strong support to this NCTO team who is investing so much of themselves in the overall betterment of the domestic textile industry. From what I have read in Glas’ plan for her first 100 days, NCTO is going to have an incredibly productive year. When we look back on this year, I am confident that we will conclude that NCTO is well on its way to becoming the most effective and impactful trade association in Washington. For me, I just want to do all that I can to support NCTO, its leadership and its members in reaching our industry goals.

May/June 2019