A change of leadership has occurred at Nester Hosiery in Mount Airy, but one that keeps it in the family.
Kelly Nester, who had been serving as president of the sock manufacturer located on Carter Street, is now its chief executive officer.
Nester’s uncle, Marty Nester — the company founder and the former CEO — will continue to chair Nester Hosiery’s board of directors in the wake of Kelly Nester’s promotion.
“We have been moving toward this change for some time and I am confident that under his (Kelly’s) leadership Nester Hosiery will continue to grow and thrive,” Marty Nester said in a statement.
Nester Hosiery was founded in 1993 in the Dobson area, and now employs more than 200 people in its Mount Airy facilities, where the company produces socks for many of the world’s leading outdoor, performance and lifestyle brands.
Kelly Nester joined the company in 1996 and became president in 2008.
After he came on board, Nester and his uncle began to pursue private label production for outdoor retailers who wanted to have their own brand of socks, according to previous reports.
Nester Hosiery has gone on to build a reputation as a family-owned, environmentally responsible company that has established a niche as a designer and manufacturer of innovative socks for mountaineers, firefighters, military personnel, athletes and others.
This reflects a decision years before by Marty Nester to focus on socks for outdoor markets, which included investing in special equipment to knit wool.
One key development in that regard occurred in 2013 with Nester Hosiery’s launching of its Farm to Feet division. That name highlights the company’s production of 100-percent American-made socks from a supply chain located completely within the United States.
The Farm to Feet segment produces a full range of socks for both rugged pursuits and normal use, made with merino wool from the Rocky Mountains and other materials from domestic sources. The brand is sold by outdoor retailers across the country.
Nester Hosiery thus has remained a thriving enterprise amid a culture of change in the local apparel industry which has led to other companies outsourcing production to foreign locations or closing altogether.
“Marty has created a strong foundation for us by instilling a company culture committed to tireless product innovation and development of the best manufacturing processes,” Kelly Nester said in a statement concerning his new leadership role.
“I am fortunate and excited to carry this forward.”