Kentwool, the fifth-generation family-owned American textile innovator, is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year. Though many of its peers have moved operations abroad, the company continues to make its premium products entirely in the United States; Kentwool boasts 81 employees between its Pickens manufacturing facility and Greenville offices.
Kentwool’s C.E.O., noted Greenville philanthropist Mark Kent, passed away unexpectedly last fall; his wife Kimberly V. Kent, formerly corporate counsel for Kentwool, is now at the company’s helm.
“At every turn I see the fruits of Mark’s leadership, his vision, and the affection he had for Kentwool and everyone in it. He was a service-focused leader, one with a clear vision and a deep commitment to this company, our employees and our success,” Kent says, crediting Kentwool’s longevity to her late husband and the generations before him.
Kentwool was founded in Philadelphia in 1843 by Thomas Kent, and in 1954 operations moved South to Pickens; the company’s headquarters soon followed. Mark Kent became C.E.O. upon the sudden death of his father in the 1990s, and during his tenure he adapted Kentwool’s business model to weather the storms of a rapidly changing textile industry.
Passionate about historic preservation, Mark founded Kentwool Development to preserve and restore Greenville’s Kent Court, previously home of Devereaux’s, and Historic Chamber Building. In recent years, Mark and his team created what is widely known to be the “World’s Best Sock,” in hopes of alleviating the discomfort Mark and his fellow golf-lovers experienced after being on their feet for 18 holes. Kentwool Performance was born in 2008 and is now a favorite of Bubba Watson and other pros on the LPGA and LPGA tours.
Mark’s forward-thinking leadership and desire to expand Kentwool’s business endeavors allowed the company to withstand economic pressures that took down many competitors, says Keith Horn, president of Kentwool Manufacturing.
“You don’t make it to your 175th anniversary on accident,” Horn says. “During his years as C.E.O., Mark expanded the business three-fold. Through Kentwool Performance, his advocacy about wool’s wearability in every season and his promotion of its natural qualities, Mark allowed us to adapt to changing consumer behaviors. He stayed one step ahead of things, so Kentwool was able to do the same.”
Kentwool founded in 1843, Kentwool continues to be one of the nation’s longest-running, family-owned textile companies. Kentwool is the only company in the western hemisphere – and one of 60 in the world – to receive the Usterized Quality Certification indicating the highest level of quality assurance in yarn production.
An avid golfer, Kentwool’s late C.E.O. Mark Kent had the idea to produce the “World’s Best Golf Sock” after standing in the 18th fairway of the BMW Nationwide Tour Pro-Am tending to blistered, bleeding feet instead of concentrating on the eagle opportunity guaranteeing him a spot in the final round.
Born from that moment is golf’s leading, premium merino wool golf sock. It enables golfers of all abilities to play their best while benefiting from abrasion and fatigue resistance, as well as Kentwool’s blister-free guarantee.
Kentwool utilizes its nearly two-century-old heritage of superiority in textiles to create socks which draw upon wool’s natural and cool performance fibers for moisture management, sheer comfort and other performance-enhancing benefits.
Based in Greenville, S.C., all Kentwool products are made in the United States.