MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The late Robert H. Chapman, III, who had a passion for textile manufacturing and who served as chairman, chief executive officer, and treasurer of Inman Mills in Spartanburg, S.C., received the 17th Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award. He was honored at the National Cotton Council’s 2019 annual meeting held February 8-10 in San Antonio, Texas.
The annual award, established in 1997, is named for Oscar Johnston, whose vision, genius and tireless efforts were foremost in the shaping and organization 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 recognizes those who exerted a positive influence on the industry and who demonstrated character and integrity as well as perseverance and maturation during that service.
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.
Craft quoted National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) CEO Auggie Tantillo as saying, “Rob’s legacy is immense. In the last two decades, globalization, particularly the entry of China into the World Trade Organization, triggered the most disruptive change ever experienced by the U.S. 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 U.S. textile industry. Rob also was a leader in crafting the U.S. textile industry’s Washington, D.C.–based policy response to globalization. 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 U.S. textile industry since China’s 2001 entry into the WTO, was coming to a climax.”
Along with his service at 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 A. 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 organizations, 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. That state-of-the art venue, the Chapman Cultural Center, opened in 2007.
Previous Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award recipients were Duke Kimbrell, a Gastonia, N.C. textile manufacturer; William Garrard, first general manager of Greenwood, Miss.-based Staplcotn Cooperative; Sykes Martin, a Courtland, Ala., producer; Walter Montgomery, Sr., a Spartanburg, S.C., textile manufacturer; Charlie Owen, an Arizona ginner; William Rhea Blake, a former NCC executive vice president, Memphis, Tenn.; Roger Malkin, long-time chairman/CEO of Delta and Pine Land, Scott, Miss.; former NCC presidents, George C. Cortright, Jr., a Rolling Fork, Miss., producer; Jack Hamilton, a Lake Providence, La., producer/ginner/warehouseman; William “Bill” Lovelady, a Tornillo, Texas, producer; Lon Mann, a Marianna, Ark., ginner; Jack McDonald, a Decatur, Ill., cottonseed crusher; Jack Stone, a Stratford, Calif., producer; and Charles Youngker, a Buckeye, Ariz., producer; former NCC chairman James E. “Jim” Echols, a Memphis, Tenn., merchant; and W.L. “Billy” Carter, Jr., of Scotland Neck, N.C., who chaired the American Cotton Producers and served as NCC secretary-treasurer.