As a way to honor the late Rob Culp, co-founder of Culp, Inc., and his beloved alma mater, UNC Chapel Hill, the seats in the Smith Center at the university are newly covered with fabric created by the company Rob started 50 years ago.
When Carolina Athletic Director, Bubba Cunningham, mentioned that it bothered him to see how dirty the seats were, Iv Culp, president and chief executive officer of Culp, Inc., thought to himself, “Wait a minute. This is definitely something we can fix.”
“In our business, we’ve been focused on performance products for the last five years,” says Iv Culp. “Everything in upholstery, whether it’s home or hospitality, is looking for cleanable products. I knew that our advanced line of LiveSmart fabrics would be perfect for the job.”
Culp’s LiveSmart performance fabric is moisture repellent, stain-resistant, and fade-resistant, and Smith Center Director Brett Botta recalls a demonstration of its capabilities, where they literally poured Coke on the fabric and wiped it right off with a dry rag.
“Then they did the same thing with ketchup and two or three more ‘pain points’ for us, and they all wiped right off, which was pretty cool,” Botta adds.
Beginning in March 2021, the cushions in the lower bowl and the mezzanine were removed in 2,000-2,500 seat blocks and shipped away to be recovered. All of the cushions were back in place by October.
Iv notes that Culp is a publicly-traded company that “still feels like a family business, which makes it even more special to carry on the legacy started by my father and grandfather,” he says.
And Culp’s gift was two-fold, as the company donated the fabric for the project while the Culp family paid for the labor needed to install the new seat cushions.
“It’s a perfect marriage of what our company’s values are,” Iv says. “We’re a public business with a family culture. To my dad, family and business were the same, and it’s truly special to be able to honor him in this way.”