SCMA president expresses optimism

Week of January 7, 2002

Remarks made during banquet at textile school

By Ron Copsey

Above: Ricky Gibson (second from left) and Johnny Crocker (third from left), both of Glen Raven in Anderson, SC, hold plaques after being named Co-Students of the Year for the Textile Management Technology Department. With them are E. Smyth McKissick III (L) of Alice Manufacturing and president of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance, and Jim Wilson, head of the Textile Management Technology Department. Below: On hand for an open house are (L-R) Ricardo Becerra; Hexcel Schwebel; Tammy Rogers of Glen Raven, Anderson, SC; Wilson; Tawanna Gantt of WestPoint Stevens, Clemson, SC; and Tommy Ariail, an adjunct instructor.

PENDLETON, SC — E. Smyth McKissick III, president of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance (SCMA), expressed optimism for the long-term outlook of the textile industry in his keynote address at Tri-County Technical College’s 29th annual Textile Management Technology Scholarship Awards Banquet here recently.

McKissick, who is also president of Alice Manufacturing Company in nearby Easley, SC, said he believed “the major purchasers of textile products for the U.S. market are re-evaluating their sourcing strategy. Since September 11th, there has been a greater appreciation for U.S.-based textile manufacturers that offer outstanding service, quality and reliability.”

He also said that U.S.-based manufacturing should get a boost from lower interest rates and as foreign economies improve, the overvalued dollar will devalue towards historical levels.

“There are other positive developments — inventory levels that have been out of kilter have been substantially drawn down; consumer spending remains relatively strong; interest rates have been cut at least nine times; taxes have been cut and long-term tax reductions are in place; plus energy prices have declined and the rate of inflation is low,” McKissick said.

More than 190 people attended the event that included the presentation of Textile Management Technology Scholarship Awards to 28 first-year students. The two-year scholarships help to cover the cost of tuition and books for textile management study at Tri-County. Most of the students are working for area textile companies and enroll in the two-year program of study to qualify for supervisory positions.

Two second-year students were honored as Co-Students of the Year for the Textile Management Technology Department. Johnny Crocker and Ricky Gibson, both employed with Glen Raven in Anderson, SC, received plaques from Jim Wilson, head of the Textile Management Technology Department.

Crocker lives in Anderson with his wife Tonya and three sons. Earlier this year, he received the Mayfair Leadership Award. Gibson and his wife Susan also live in Anderson and have four children. The Student of the Year Award recognizes students who excel academically, demonstrate good citizenship and are committed to keeping textiles the No. 1 industry in South Carolina.

Textile manufacturers who donated scholarship funds this year for first- and second-year students are located in Anderson, Pickens and Oconee Counties, the three counties served by Tri-County Tech. They are: Alice Manufacturing; Avondale Mills; Blair Mills; Chiquola Industrial Products; Glen Raven; Hexcel Schwebel; J.E. Sirrine Textile Foundation; JPS Glass; The Kent Manufacturing Co.; La France Industries; Orian Rugs; and Safety Components Fabric Technologies.

There are also 10 endowed scholarships funded through the support and investments of Alice Manufacturing, Avondale Mills, Glen Raven and the J.E. Sirrine Textile Foundation.

Headliners:

Week of January 7, 2002

Atlanta beckons Beltwiders

ATLANTA — “Technology — The Common Thread” is the theme of the 2002 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, scheduled for this week at the Marriott Marquis and Hyatt Regency here.

The event, coordinated primarily by The National Cotton Council, is slated for Tuesday through Saturday. The conference’s goal is to strengthen U.S. cotton’s competitive position in domestic and world markets and to increase industry members’ profitability, according to organizers. The objective for reaching that goal is to speed the transfer of new technology to U.S. cotton producers and other industry members via that forum.

The 47th annual Beltwide Cotton Production Conference is set for Wednesday and Thursday. The conference’s general session will feature reports and panel discussions on such topics as biotechnology, cotton improvement, cultural practices for least-cost production, fiber quality, global competition, marketing and new technologies.

Afternoon hands-on workshops will focus on electronic tools, nematodes and precision agriculture. Seminars and panels will cover agricultural chemical consolidation, e-trading, insurance and new developments from industry.

The cotton technical conferences, including joint sessions and poster sessions, will run Friday and Saturday. The Cotton Foundation Technical Exhibit will be open Wednesday and Thursday.

In addition to cotton producers, ginners and other industry members, the Beltwide Cotton Conferences brings together those with a stake in a healthy U.S. cotton production sector, including university and USDA researchers, Extension personnel, consultants and allied product and service providers.

On-site registration fee is $150 for National Cotton Council and Cotton Foundation members, $75 for students with a valid I.D., and $300 for non-members. Conference registration will be located in the Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel beginning at 1 p.m. on Tuesday through noon on Saturday.

The National Cotton Council of America’s mission is to ensure the ability of all U.S. cotton industry segments to compete effectively and profitably in the raw cotton, oilseed and manufactured product markets at home and abroad.

Materials:

Week of January 7, 2002

Frisby to expand Comfortemp line for footwear use

WINSTON-SALEM, NC — Frisby Technologies, Inc., the developer of Comfortemp dynamic climate control (DCC™) materials, announced it has completed development of a new and unique Comfortemp material soon to be ready for commercial sales as a footwear component material.

The new patent-pending Comfortemp footwear materials were developed jointly with the research department at Texon UK Ltd., a division of Texon International plc, based in England, the world’s largest producer of cellulose and nonwoven footwear component materials. All ownership interest in this invention has been assigned to Frisby.

This new material is designed especially to meet the physical and thermal performance demands of casual, dress, athletic and insulated cold-weather footwear.

“This new development is an important tactic in the company’s strategy to offer the most comprehensive selection of comfort-enhancing materials to manufacturers seeking to add technological innovation and differentiation to their products,” said Greg Frisby, chairman and chief executive officer. “The global footwear market is growing at about 5 percent per year and each year the total number of shoes produced using a Texon International product exceeds 1.8 billion pairs of shoes, or 18 percent of the world’s total footwear output.”

All Com-fortemp materials contain Frisby’s proprietary thermal additive, a powder-like substance that automatically absorbs, stores and releases heat as required to maintain a balanced temperature.

Comfortemp footwear component materials will be available for use in insoles, heel counters and shoe linings, as well as to replace or enhance traditional insulation in cold weather footwear. Patent applications have been filed in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia.

In other news related to Frisby, an Italian textile investor has bought a 20 percent share of the company to help eliminate more than $1.5 million in debt.

Finpart of Milan will invest $4.1 million in Frisby stock and get a seat on Frisby’s board of directors.

Materials:

Week of January 7, 2002

Corterra fibers debut in Shaw carpet

HOUSTON — Shaw Industries, Inc., and Shell Chemicals introduced a new carpet that they say combines durability and stain resistance with luxurious feel, excellent performance, anti-static properties and easy care.

Shaw’s Corterra carpet line is the first BCF carpet introduced in the U.S. based on Shell’s Corterra Polymers, the raw materials used in the carpet face fiber.

Corterra Polymers is Shell’s trademark for polytrimethylene terephthalate (PTT), a thermoplastic that can be spun into fibers and yarns that are durable, inherently stain resistant and easy to clean.

Carpets made with Corterra Fibers offer a breakthrough in the combination of stain resistance and durability, the companies said. They have nylon-like wear performance without the need for chemical stain treatments and complicated cleaning procedures.

Most stains, including mustard, iodine and coffee, can be removed with hot water and are dry within a few hours, the companies added. Moreover, Corterra Fiber’s stain resistance offers an ease of maintenance and reduced need for replacement, they added.

The launch of the Corterra carpet, initially developed for the apartment replacement and builder markets, is the result of a multi-year development program between Shaw and Shell. Shaw’s interest focused on the wear performance and anti-stain properties inherent in Corterra Fibers, which were confirmed through testing by Shaw. The companies then worked together to convert the Corterra Polymer into high-quality yarn on state-of-the-art equipment using Shell’s patented technology.

Mark Tucker, builder marketing manager for Shaw, said the attributes of the Corterra products have been sought by the residential property management market for years.

“It has always been a trade-off for this segment either durability or stain resistance,” said Tucker.

Materials:

Week of January 7, 2002

Celanese, Teijin create marketing, sales alliance

KRONBERG, GERMANY — Celanese AG and Teijin Limited announced that they have signed a marketing and sales assistance agreement.

Under terms of the agreement, Teijin will market Celanese Acetate filament products in Japan as an independent consultant and assist in sales in the Asia region.

In a related move, Teijin will discontinue production of acetate flake at its Matsuyama site and acetate filament, Celanese said.

The marketing alliance evolved out of ongoing joint venture discussions between the parties. Both companies acknowledged that a contemplated joint venture was no longer viable due to market conditions. The marketing alliance is the best way to meet the ongoing needs of Teijin and Celanese acetate filament customers in the region, Celanese added.

Celanese Acetate Textiles is the world’s largest cellulose acetate filament producer. Its products are found in women’s and men’s apparel fashions, linings, home furnishings and industrial end uses. Celanese acetate filament is currently manufactured in the United States, Mexico and Belgium.

Teijin Limited, established in 1918, was the first Japanese company to produce rayon yarn and remained an innovator and leader in the development and commercialization of fibers. Today, the company’s operations encompass four segments — fibers, chemicals and plastics, pharmaceuticals and medical products and diversified businesses.

Technology:

Week of January 7, 2002

Burlington’s Nano-Tex
expands international licenses

GREENSBORO, NC — Nano-Tex, LLC has expanded the application of its technology internationally with the licensing of Martelli Lavorazioni Tessili S.p.A, one of the world’s largest laundry and garment finishers, and Dominican Knits, a leading producer of knit fabrics and garments.

Nano-Tex, a subsidiary of Burlington Industries, has also entered into its first agreements with agents to promote licensing arrangements in the European and Japanese markets.

Nano-Tex, LLC is an advanced materials company using proprietary technology to create, change and improve textiles at the molecular level.

Marking the first application of Nano-Tex’s patented technology to sewn garments rather than fabric, Martelli, based in Italy, will utilize the NANO- PEL™ technology for use on cotton and cotton blend apparel treated and finished in Europe for distribution to branded customers worldwide.

Denim apparel will be the first product enhanced with the NANO-PEL technology, with plans for other products later.

Dominican Knits, based in the Dominican Republic and part of the Grupo M companies, will utilize the NANO-PEL technology in the first-ever application to knits, further highlighting the technology’s flexibility to enhance a variety of fabrics. Initial applications will be to 100 percent cotton circular knit shirting fabrics. The use of NANO-PEL technology adds superior repellence to fabrics that allow water and oil spills to easily bead and roll off of fabric without penetrating the fibers, according to Nano-Tex.

Obituary

Week of January 7, 2002

Boxer owned machinery firm

CHARLOTTE, NC — Karl Morris Boxer, who owned a textile machinery manufacturing company bearing his name, died December 25, his 74th birthday.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Boxer moved to North Carolina in 1953 and operated several textile manufacturing facilities.

An accomplished musician, he recorded several albums with his jazz trio and continued to write and record music throughout his life. His many hobbies included flying, motor-boating, sailing, riflery and writing.

He is survived by his wife, Betty; Michael (Hanna) of Charlotte; and David of Dallas, TX; step-children, Karen Purser (Rodney), Debbie Richardson and David Richardson; grandchildren, Lee and Esben Boxer of Charlotte; son-in-law, Paul Glass; grandchildren, Joy and Cory Glass of Lexington, KY; and his dog, Beauregard. He was pre-deceased by his first wife, Joy Shapiro Boxer, in 1972 and by his daughter, Leslie Boxer Glass, in 2000.

Ron Gordon, Rodney Purser, John Crenshaw, Evan Boxer, Ken Boxer and Ron Alessandrini served as pallbearers.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The National Kidney Foundation of NC, 5950 Fairview Road, Charlotte, NC 28210.

Services were held at Harry & Bryant Company. Interment took place at The Hebrew Cemetery of Charlotte.

Briefs

Week of January 7, 2002

Wateree Textiles shuts SC plant

CAMDEN, SC — Wateree Textile Corp., a producer of synthetic lining fabric, said it will close a plant here in March, putting about 240 people out of work.

The company blamed the move on the softening domestic textile market.

“The downturn in the textile industry was too much to overcome,” said Wateree President Sam Kimura. “We just could not afford the losses any longer.”

Wateree Textile Corp. is owned by Marubeni America, which has operated the plant since 1974. Marubeni America is part of a global Japanese conglomerate.

Briefs

Week of January 7, 2002

Willis Hosiery closes doors

CONCORD, NC — After nearly 75 years, Willis Hosiery Mills has closed its doors.

The company employed fewer than 100 people after having laid off more than 100 employees in the last five years. Willis Hosiery was owned by Clare Faggart.

Briefs

Week of January 7, 2002

Cognis bought by equity firms

Cognis, a specialty chemicals provider, has been sold to a consortium of private-equity firms consisting of the Permira Funds, GS Capital Partners and the Schroder Ventures Life Sciences Funds.

Fiscal Notes

Week of January 7, 2002

Pillowtex Corp. files reorganization plan

KANNAPOLIS, NC — As part of a restructuring aimed at emerging from bankruptcy proceedings, textile giant Pillowtex Corporation has filed a reorganization plan that would make its stock worthless and repay just 1 percent of its bond debt.

The home furnishings manufacturer filed the plan and a disclosure statement with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the District of Delaware on Dec. 28.

The plan provides that the reorganized company will issue new common stock to its secured creditors and a combination of new common stock and warrants to its unsecured creditors. In addition, the plan provides that the company will emerge with about $200 million of debt, significantly less than the more than $1.1 billion of debt Pillowtex was mired in prior to its bankruptcy filing.

“Our strategy going forward is to improve our position in the highly competitive industry of home fashions,” said Tony Williams, president and chief operating officer. “Our business plan focuses on four broad initiatives — branding and marketing, capacity rationalization, strategic sourcing and total quality management. Our objective is to be the undisputed leader in customer service.”

Pillowtex filed for bankruptcy protection in Nov. 2000, and has since closed several plants and slashed hundreds of jobs.

Editorial

Week of January 7, 2002

A fool in a China shop ...

Tying up some loose ends while watching the snow fall and wondering why people keep calling us flaky ...

Ahhhhh ... isn’t he cute? Week-old “Baby 2002” is so adorable, all wrapped up in a receiving blanket (made in China) and wearing a cloth diaper (made there, too). Of course, we had to adopt the newborn (yep, made in China), since the People’s Republic is in the process of cornering the market on everything from soft goods to human beings and will soon convert the world to the Chinese calendar, not to mention communism, where we’ll all one day be flying the red flag and thanking our lucky (gold) stars (since we won’t believe in a higher being) that we have a job ringing up trinkets (made in you know where) for 63 cents a day and hoping that one day we’ll be able to afford a radio, even if it broadcasts only government-controlled programming and .... oh, sorry ... got a little carried away after checking the labels during a post-holiday visit to our neighborhood ChinaMart. ...

RUN, 2001, RUN: We’re definitely glad to see 2001 run its course. The events of September 11th exacerbated by 1,000-fold what was already shaping up to be a dreadful year for domestic manufacturing in general and textiles and apparel in particular.

Last year, more than 148,000 jobs in the industry fell by the wayside and more than 100 mills were padlocked. As a whole, the industry lost $356 million last year, its first financial loss since it began keeping such data 50 years ago. Ugh. ...

AND HERE’S A PICK-ME-UP: Gary Shoesmith, a Wake Forest University economist who tracks the textile and apparel industry, predicts that 200,000 more U.S. jobs in those areas will be lost this decade. The dropping of quotas on shipments of textiles and apparel starting in 2005 bill be a boon to China and a bane to U.S. manufacturers, he said.

Only niche-type, high-technology textile manufacturing will stay in the U.S. over the next few years, he added. “If an American worker has a low-skilled job within the apparel and textile industries, there’s a very good chance that job won’t survive the next decade,” Shoesmith told Associated Press. “That’s what it comes down to. It’s a harsh reality.” ...

PAK A PUNCH: Pakistan is also doing its part to erode American textile and apparel manufacturing. The country continues to push for a package of benefits from Washington as a reward for its support of the war on terrorism. Pakistan, of course, wants tariff cuts and expanded quotas on selected textile and apparel products, something U.S. textile leaders say would only further deep-six their industry.

The Pakistan Textile & Apparel Group, a trade association based in Islamabad, claims that textile orders are down by almost 70 percent since the bombing in Afghanistan began. With thousands of Pakistanis protesting the war, many U.S. apparel manufacturers with business in the South Asian country decided to go elsewhere. A survey of the group’s members (sniff) indicates that more than a third of their employees could lose their jobs (sniff) as a result of this pullback (honk). The organization has hired heavyweight American P.R. and lobbying firms to plead its case here.

Well, hold the tissue, please. U.S. government figures show that textile and apparel exports from Pakistan to this market were up 17.9 percent in October. Explain those figures, please, Paks.

Are we, as a nation, obligated to take care of the world’s workers, to the detriment of our own? Some in Washington don’t think so.

Oh, well. At least the snow’s made in America. It still is, right?

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