by Stephen Garner
Jesse W. Curlee
Jesse W. Curlee

Following a career spanning over three and a half decades at Supima, Jesse W. Curlee, president and CEO, has announced that he will retire effective December 31, 2015. The Supima board of directors has selected Supima’s current executive vice president Marc A. Lewkowitz to step into the role effective January 1, 2016.

Curlee began his career with Phoenix-based Supima in October of 1979 as general manager, and in 1981 he was named president and CEO. American Pima cotton production averaged approximately 75,000 bales annually when Curlee joined Supima and steadily increased to over 850,000 bales in recent years. He has worked to expand production to California in the late 1980s, and today over 90 percent of American Pima cotton production is located in California.

During the span of his career with Supima, Curlee promoted the introduction of Supima to the fashion industry with the start of its now recognized and respected annual Supima Design Competition and fashion runway show during New York Fashion Week. Under Curlee’s leadership, Supima began a licensing program for customers wanting to use the Supima name with the first licensees in Japan in the 1980s. Supima now licenses the name and trademark worldwide to spinners, knitters, weavers, manufacturers, brands and retailers with over 370 licensees in 39 countries.

“On behalf of the entire membership, staff and Supima board of directors, we sincerely thank Jesse for his valuable contributions, passionate leadership and dedication to the American Pima cotton industry,” said Supima’s chairman, Keith B. Deputy. “Jesse has been a strong leader and advocate for Supima and has made a tremendous impact in the promotion and advancement of Supima cotton. There is no doubt that everyone who Jesse has worked with will join us in wishing him the very best in his future adventures.”