Week of February 19, 2001

Metex loom turns American heads

By Devin Steele

SPARTANBURG, SC — Meersschaert g.r.j. has about 1,000 of its Metex model Jacquard looms operating in Belgium, others running in several countries and none in production in the United States.

Not yet, anyway.

Bolliger Corp., Meer-sschaert’s U.S. representative, recently demonstrated the Metex rapier wire loom to potential U.S. customers in its facility here. On hand to answer questions during the open house were Guy Meersschaert, president of Meersschaert and managing director of sister company Giropan, which makes the Jacquard heads; Filip Van Raepensbusch, design and development director of Meersschaert; Peter Raes, weaver; and Kurt Benz, service manager of Bolliger.

Demonstrating the rapier wire loom Metex One 140 at Bolliger Corp. are (L-R) Guy Meersschaert, president of Meersschaert and managing director of sister company Giropan; Kurt Benz, service manager of Bolliger; Filip Van Raepensbusch, design and development director of Meersschaert; and Peter Raes, weaver.

More than 12 U.S. firm dropped by to see the loom in action and Benz said he was expecting more in the weeks that followed. And the loom turned many American heads, he said.

“We’ve had a very good response,” he said. “It’s something nobody else makes here (in the U.S.). There isn’t a machine existing here that can make those fabrics.”

The big advantage of the loom is its flexibility, according to Meersschaert.

“It can make all loops, it can make all cuts or it can make a combination of loops and cuts,” he said. “This is the most flexible loom on the market.”

Fabrics coming off the loom are used in upholstery, draperies and carpeting and are quite unique in that they can’t be made on other machines, Meersschaert said.

“You can make different types of loops and different types of cuts,” said Meersschaert, whose grandfather founded the Kuurne, Belgium-based company in 1945. “You can put 24 wires on the loom, so theoretically, you can make 24 types of piles — of loops, of cuts or a combination. This is the only machine that can do that at the moment.

“And we have eight different wefts, also, so you can put eight different colors in the wefts.”

Another feature of the machine is that it can be converted from a pile loom to a loop loom or a combination of both in just 15 minutes, Meersschaert said, merely by changing the wires.

STN Headliners

Week of February 19, 2001

In this week's edition:

ATMI to trim dues, jobs, narrow focus

WASHINGTON, DC — The American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) announced Thursday that it is reducing its annual dues by 10 percent, cutting its staff by about a third and narrowing its scope to more-crucial textile-specific issues.

ATMI is sharpening its focus on those high-priority textile issues that affect its members’ survival and growth, making the group more effective in representing the industry’s interests in the nation’s capital and internationally, the association said in a statement.

“It is always incumbent upon a trade association to review its strategic focus from time-to-time,” said ATMI President Roger W. Chastain, Mount Vernon Mills, Inc., in describing the results of the organization’s top-to-bottom review. “ATMI’s officers conducted this review and our board agreed because of the ongoing dramatic changes in the economic climate and changes in the marketplace that call for renewed efforts here in Washington.”

At meetings during the past year, ATMI’s officers and board of directors decided to focus on three specific priority areas: legislative, regulatory and standards development. Brainstorming on all of ATMI’s activities, programs and issues was undertaken and completed and a package of recommendations was presented to and adopted January 16 by the ATMI board of directors.

State officials strike chord with manufacturers

GREENSBORO, NC — New Labor Commissioner Cherie K. Berry and first-year Industrial Commission Chairman Buck Lattimore struck a responsive chord with members of the North Carolina Manufacturers Association (NCMA) at the organization’s Safety Conference at the Grandover Resort & Conference Center here recently.

Berry talked about ergonomics and her department’s new approach to regulating industry. Lattimore discussed his businessman’s approach to the Commission and the resulting productivity gains and process improvements.

When she told the more than 60 NCMA safety and health practitioners, “I’ll use every tool available to me to keep an ergonomics standard from taking effect in North Carolina,” Berry drew sustained applause.

The first female labor commissioner in state history and the first Republican to hold the post in a century, Berry said that companies were voluntarily doing a good job to reduce musculoskeletal disorders and did not need another burdensome regulation.

Berry’s predecessor, Harry E. Payne Jr., adopted for North Carolina the federal ergonomics standard pushed through during the final months of the Clinton administration. The General Assembly earlier blocked Payne’s attempt to implement and enforce a state standard and the Rules Review Commission upheld the Legislature’s decision.

Payne then sued the Commission, but one of Berry’s first acts as commissioner was to withdraw the lawsuit.

Flammability standard skewed, according to study

WASHINGTON, DC — A cost/benefit analysis of the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) draft flammability standard for upholstered furniture found that the CPSC substantially underestimated the cost of implementing such a regulation by $2 billion while significantly overestimating the benefits. This was the conclusion of an independent study released last week by the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI).

The study also notes that the CPSC’s draft proposal does not address the flammability of the major fuel source of upholstered furniture fires — foam and other filling materials — with upholstery fabric being treated as the only line of defense against small, open-flame ignition. The CPSC draft proposal would require upholstery fabrics to serve as fire barriers to protect foam and filling materials from fires started by small, open-flame sources.

“The findings of this study illustrate CPSC’s lack of understanding of the complexity of both the industry’s products and its distribution chains,” said Roger Berkley, Weave Corporation, and chairman of ATMI’s Upholstery Fabrics Committee. “The massive increase in fire-retardant (FR) treatment and testing costs for compliance threaten the viability of the industry, particularly the smaller firms.”

Rutland inks distribution agreements

PINEVILLE, NC — Rutland Plastic Technologies, a world leader in the formulation and manufacture of PVC plastisol screen inks, announced the signing of distributor agreements with Imprints Whole- sale, Inc., Lee’s Screen Process Supply Company, Dimensional Products Corporation and Screen Printers Resource.

The agreements cover Rutland’s comprehensive line of plastisol screen printing inks.

The Denver, CO, branch of Imprints Wholesale will distribute to customers in that state, as well as Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri.

Speizman, Martint sign joint venture

CHARLOTTE, NC — Speizman Industries announced that it has signed a joint venture agreement with Martint Equipment Company of Cornelius, NC, to distribute Braun dye/extracting machines worldwide.

Martint has the exclusive right to sell Braun dye/extracting machines principally to the textile industry through a worldwide distributorship agreement with G.A. Braun, Inc., of Syracuse, NY.

Consistent with Speizman’s strategy, the company said it expects the joint venture to result in expanding sales and profits by offering additional competitive products manufactured by Braun through Speizman’s existing marketing channels.

The term of the joint venture agreement ends in January 2004. This coincides with the term of Martint’s distribution agreement with G. A. Braun.