Kentwool Celebrates 180th Year; Announces New Leadership

GREENVILLE, S.C. — December 20, 2023 — Kentwool Co., a worsted wool yarn manufacturing company, celebrates the close of its 180th year in business, spanning five generations of Kent family ownership.

Founded in 1843, Kentwool, formerly known as The Kent Manufacturing Co., was established in Philidelphia, P.A by Philidelphia businessman and English immigrant Thomas Kent. From its inception, Kentwool has specialized in the manufacturing of premium woolen goods. Throughout its 180-year history, the company has played a significant and substantial role in some of the most monumental moments in American history, manufacturing uniforms for the Union Army in the American Civil War and supplying the U.S. Armed Forces during both World Wars.

In 1954, under the leadership of the company’s fourth-generation owner, Tom Kent, Kentwool opened a production facility in Pickens, S.C. Sixteen years later, the company’s headquarters transitioned to South Carolina, where it remains today.

In 1992, after Tom Kent’s untimely passing, his son, the late Greenville business leader and philanthropist Mark Kent, took ownership of the company at the age of 29. Under Mark’s leadership, the company rebranded in 2007, changing its name from The Kent Manufacturing Co. to Kentwool. Just three years later, Kentwool introduced consumer products, debuting their wool golf sock at the 2010 PGA Merchandise show in Orlando, Fla. Maintaining the company’s family-centric mentality, Mark’s wife Kimberly V. Kent served alongside her husband as a member of the advisory board and in-house counsel.

Kim assumed the role as owner, president, and CEO in 2017, following Mark’s passing, at which time she became the first female owner and operator in the company’s history.

After 180 years and five generations of Kent family ownership, Kentwool remains one of the leading manufacturers of premium worsted wool yarn, one of the few remaining USA-based manufacturers of its kind. Today, Kentwool harnesses its extensive history and knowledge of the wool yarn industry to produce multiple lines of premier wool socks. From fiber to fulfillment, Kentwool products are made in the USA with 100-percent USA craftsmanship and minimal environmental impact. As of 2023, Kentwool is Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) Certified, working with nature, not against it, to take a step forward in responsibly innovating for the future.

Kentwool Announces New Leadership 

As Kentwool celebrates the close of its 180th year in business, the company and its leadership look ahead to the next 180 years. The company has today announced that Kim Kent, owner, president, and CEO, will transition the role of president and CEO effective today, December 20, 2023. As her successor, Kent has named Justin Ferdinand, the company’s current COO and president of Kentwool Performance. Kent will maintain her role as chairman.

Ferdinand, an accomplished and transformative leader, continues to bring extensive knowledge and expertise in building and leading collaborative teams and organizations focused on driving results through innovative strategies and culture. During his time at Kentwool, Ferdinand’s work, initiative, and dedication to people have aligned tremendously with the company’s core values, making him an excellent cultural fit to lead the organization into the next chapter. Ferdinand will be the first CEO in the company’s history not related to the Kent family.

“I’m so excited to be part of such a fantastic company rich in history and to have the privilege to lead this team in the next chapter,” Ferdinand said. “We have an aggressive growth strategy focused on leveraging the organization’s full capabilities and a tenured team that is skilled and ready to make the plans a reality. “

Ferdinand’s vision for the future is anchored in establishing Kentwool as a global multi-solutions provider of high-quality wool yarn and wool products. With his direction, the company is poised to continue to grow and navigate the evolving challenges of the textile manufacturing industry, creating and capitalizing on new landscapes and opportunities.

“Leading this company for the last six years has been such an honor for me,” Kent said. “It has been a privilege to work daily with the most committed and most talented people in the wool industry.  Now, as we make this exciting leadership transition, I look forward to Justin’s fresh perspective as he leads our team and strategically builds on the company’s incredible history and our strong commitment to our people, our process, and our products.“

Posted January 5, 2024

Source: Kentwool