Ken Bowling, EVP, CFO & Treasurer, Discusses Culp’s Business Model from a Financial Perspective



KEY POINTS
  • On Tuesday, July 20, 2021, we hosted Ken Bowling, Culp’s EVP, CFO, and Treasurer, in a Fireside Chat to discuss Culp’s financial model and how it fits into Culp’s strategy. A copy of the transcript, edited for readability and grammar, is included below.
  • Mr. Bowling reviewed Culp’s history and how it has navigated several notable changes in its business climate. He noted that he joined Culp in 1997, near the end of the period when the company grew rapidly by diversifying into new business lines, acquiring other textile businesses, and investing in textile-producing assets.
  • Noting that the home furnishings landscape changed markedly with the advent of Chinese manufacturing in the early 2000s, Mr. Bowling described the issues that Culp’s leadership faced then: (1) whether to move entirely to Asia, (2) partner with overseas mills, or (3) simply battle it out. The company chose the middle ground, closed and restructured much of its US-based upholstery assets, kept it intellectual property, and invested in its mattress fabrics business. By 2011, it had lowered debt and reinvented itself. As we have observed, Culp’s bold actions saved the company. Other legacy competitors that did not act did not survive the change in the economic landscape.
  • The balance of the conversation was devoted to segment margins; ongoing pressures affecting both business segments, including increasing freight and raw material costs, labor shortages, and currency fluctuations, as well as considerations for additional pricing increases; taxes; incentive compensation; and the company’s capital allocation strategy.
  • Regarding guidance, Mr. Bowling demurred (understandably) to “quantify” the word “significant” that was incorporated into its 1Q22 guidance from the company’s most recent earnings release, noting the difficulty in forecasting given ongoing business uncertainty. Our abbreviated income model is shown below. Our entire economic model can be found in our July 2, 2021 update report.

THE COMPANY

Founded in 1972 and headquartered in High Point, North Carolina, Culp, Inc. manufactures, markets, and supplies a wide range of mattress and upholstery fabrics in the U.S. and across the globe. Today Culp has manufacturing and sourcing capabilities in the US, Canada, China, Haiti, Vietnam, and Turkey.

Culp reports operations in segments: 1) mattress fabrics, known as Culp Home Fashions, and 2) upholstery fabrics, known as Culp Upholstery Fabrics. Each is a leader in its respective markets.

Today, Culp’s CEO is Robert. G. Culp IV (Iv), who joined the company in 1998 and became CEO in January 2020. For 15 years before becoming CEO, Iv led Culp’s mattress fabric segment. Culp enjoys a strong market leadership role in each of its two segments, which is reinforced by its innovation.

On Tuesday, July 20, 2021, we hosted Ken Bowling, Culp’s EVP, CFO, and Treasurer, in a Fireside Chat to discuss Culp’s financial model and how it fits into Culp’s strategy. A copy of the transcript, edited for readability and grammar, is included below.

EXECUTIVE DISCUSSION

Budd Bugatch: Welcome to today’s fireside chat. I’m Budd Bugatch, Senior Analyst with Water Tower Research. Water Tower is dedicated to modernizing stakeholder communication and investor engagement. We work to create, deliver, and maintain the information flow required to build and preserve relationships with all stakeholders and potential investors.

I’m excited today to have a conversation with Ken Bowling, Culp’s Chief Financial Officer.

Ken, I will soon have several questions for you that address Culp’s business strategy from a financial perspective. However, first, can you first tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to Culp?

Ken Bowling: Thanks, Budd. I’m originally from Kentucky, but I spent most of my adult life in North Carolina. Yet, for the record, I’m a true-blue University of Kentucky basketball fan. That makes it interesting to be surrounded by Carolina and Duke fans during basketball...

ABOUT THE EXECUTIVE
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Kenneth R. Bowling

Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Treasurer

Culp, Inc.

Kenneth R Bowling (Ken) graduated from Berea College in 1984 with a B.S. degree in Business Administration. He later achieved his MBA from Wake Forest University in 2000. Ken is also a certified internal auditor.

He began his career with Ashland Oil in Ashland, Kentucky, as an internal auditor in 1984 and worked in this position for three years, rising to the level of senior auditor. From Ashland Oil, Ken switched industries and went to work for Proctor-Silex, a manufacturer of small kitchen appliances headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. He spent ten years with Proctor Silex, taking on increasing responsibilities ranging from internal audit manager to division controller for operations in the U.S. and Mexico.

In 1997, Ken changed industries and began working for Culp, Inc., as division controller for the Culp Velvets/Prints division. While at Culp, Ken was promoted to corporate controller in 2001 and was later named corporate controller and assistant treasurer in 2002. In 2004, Ken was promoted to vice president of finance and treasurer. He became Culp’s chief financial officer in 2007 as well as corporate secretary in 2008. Ken was named senior vice president in 2016, and in 2019, he was promoted to executive vice president.

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