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Gehm Joins Dan River

Laying the cornerstone of a refocused global home fashions business, Dan River Inc. has hired major mill veteran Bob Gehm, one-time president of sales at the former WestPoint Stevens, as senior vp of sales and marketing, retail and institutional.

Gehm joins Dan River, a company fresh out of bankruptcy and flying the flag of a new corporate parent, New Delhi-based GHCL, as the century-old home fashions producer finds itself at a crossroads, rethinking, retooling and repositioning itself on an unfamiliar global platform as it prepares to shutter its last U.S. manufacturing plant, in Brookneal, Va., on Aug. 22.

“Bob is going to run our institutional business as well as a number of key retail accounts, including Target and Mervyns,” said Dan Hammer, Dan River executive vp and president of sales and marketing. “We're really excited. He brings a lot to the table.” Hammer observed, “This is just the first step as we build an entirely new, customer-centric organization at the very highest level. Everything is going to be wrapped around the customer's needs.”

As a point person in that revitalization of Dan River, Gehm brings with him more than 20 years of diverse experience at companies ranging in size from a mega-player like WestPoint to a small, niche producer like Sheridan Home. And Dan River's relatively small size is one of its big advantages, said Gehm. “We can turn around the speed boat a whole lot faster than we can turn around a battleship,” he said.

Gehm said, “We don't have layers of bureaucracy to cut through, we can get decisions made in a heartbeat. We're lean enough that we can afford to do what's right for the customer instead of having to do what's right for us. You're going to see us a lot more focused on what the customer's needs are. We want to bring them solutions, not just items. It's going to be a real-world company with real-world product.”

Gehm began his home fashions career as an account executive at the major mill then known as WestPoint Pepperell. He spent 15 years there before stepping down as president of sales in 1999. More recently, Gehm worked at Franco Mfg., where he was president of Hanes for the Home, as executive vp of CHF Corp., and president of Sheridan Home.

“And you know something? I'm really excited. There's so much you can do at Dan River, so much to work with. This the kind of company that's just small enough, but still has the depth, that you can really make something out of it. Dan River has so much going for it, and a real opportunity to become the best of class.”

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