Jesse W. Curlee graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in marketing. He began his business career in 1968 with Armstrong World Industries in their corporate headquarters in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He later moved to Atlanta, Georgia where he was responsible for the company's industrial sales to the textile industry in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. In 1973 Curlee joined the U.S. textile industry as Executive Secretary of the Georgia Textile Manufacturers Association and its affiliate organization, The Textile Education Foundation, in Atlanta.
Jesse joined Supima headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona in October of 1979 and was named President in 1981. Supima promotes American Pima cotton in the U.S. and abroad and licenses the name and trademark worldwide to textile/ apparel manufacturers and retailers. Supima's headquarters are in Phoenix, but also has offices in New York and Fresno, California.
Curlee is a trustee and past Chairman of the Texas A&M Foundation. He also serve as a director of the 12th Man Foundation at Texas A&M and is a member of the President's Council of Advisors. In 1993 Curlee served as President of the Former Students Association of Texas A&M University.
Curlee is a member of the Phoenix Rotary Club; Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations; Advisory Director of the Arizona Cotton Growers Association; and an advisor to the Executive Committee of Cotton Council International.
He and his wife Lynda reside in Tempe, Arizona and are the parents of a daughter, Kristyn Arnold, of San Diego; a son, Jesse, Jr., of Austin, Texas; and another son, Michael of Tempe.
Based in Pheonix, Arizona, USA, set up in 1954, non-profit organization Supima's primary objective is to promote the increased consumption of U.S. Pima cotton around the world. Supima is actively involved in quality assurance, various Pima quality research programs, and working with government agencies to ensure a fair and viable marketing environment for U.S. Pima growers. Supima also provides timely crop and market information to its grower-members and licensees.
The organization is famed for its licensing program in which select, high-quality textile mills, apparel and textile manufacturers, and retailers are granted a license to use the Supima trademark. Licensees use the Supima trademark to market and promote their textile, home fashion and apparel products made of 100% American Pima cotton. Over 250-fine count textile mills, manufacturers and retailers from around the world are licensed to use the Supima brand.
Supima actively participates in all major international home fashion and apparel exhibitions and events.
Could you give an overview of the US cotton industry?
The US cotton industry continues in a healthy state despite the WTO rulings and certain unknowns related to the Upland Step 2 and other cotton programs. The industry will move forward due to the continued technology of new seed varieties, plus continued work on improvements in production and quality. The USA produced over 22 million Upland bales in the 2004 crop year, second only to China in total production.
What is the history of Supima cotton?
The first Extra Long Staple cotton was the famous Sea Island cotton, first produced in the United States in 1786. Sea Island cotton was grown in the United States until the early 1900's when a combination of insects and inconsistence weather in the coastal region of Georgia, South Carolina and Florida lead to its demise. Then around 1915-20 Extra Long Staple cotton began to be grown in Arizona, primarily by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. Goodyear needed the fiber for tire cord and especially during World War 1, when it was impossible to get Egyptian cotton for this purpose.
Supima was actually organized in 1954 by a group of American Pima cotton growers from the El Paso region of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona growers. They believed that an organization was needed to promote this special cotton. The idea was that Pima had special markets and that it should be promoted separately from regular cotton.
What characteristics distinguish Pima from Egyptian long staple cotton?
Pima is at least 38% stronger than the average U.S. Upland cotton and about 33% longer in staple length. The average GPT for American Pima is 40.3 as compared to 29.2 for Upland. The length is 46.5 compared to 34.9. These differences allow spinners to spin a finer, stronger yarn.
Last year, of the total US cotton output, what constituted Pima share of the US cotton, and what were the resulting factors?
Last season the U.S. produced 22,505,000 bales of Upland cotton while the total American Pima production was reported at 745,600 or about 3.3 % of the total crop of U.S. cotton. If you take the world production of cotton, ELS cotton on average accounts for about 3% of the total.
Do you anticipate a significant change in the demand for Supima cotton this year?
Not really, since the demand was so strong last year and we were virtually sold out of the last year crop. I think demand will continue to be strong for several reasons. One, demand for premium quality textiles and even other luxury products is strong all around the world. Two, the major producers of ELS, Egypt and the USA, are both expected to have smaller crops this season. We predict continued strong worldwide demand and a smaller total ELS crop.