ATMA, APMA, PEMA GATHERING

Week of February 25, 2002

‘Tripartite’ meeting a triumph: Leaders

By Devin Steele

The three associations’ elected presidents participate in a briefing about their respective organizations. (L-R) Kurt Scholler of ATMA, CEO of American Truetzschler, Charlotte, NC; Bruce Monroe of APMA, chairman of The Johnson Corp., Three Rivers, MI; and Brian Trudel of PEMA, president and CEO of Carrier Vibrating Equipment, Inc., Louisville, KY.

PUERTA VALLARTA, MEXICO — A new meeting concept took root here recently — and earned high marks from several attendees.

The American Textile Machinery Association (ATMA) held its annual meeting in conjunction with similar gatherings of two other capital equipment-related organizations. The “Tripartite Annual Meeting,” put together as such in response to changing times, included members of ATMA, the American Paper Machinery Association (APMA) and the Process Equipment Manufacturers’ Association (PEMA®).

Conferees heard presentations — and shared the fees — of several top-notch speakers and, during several roundtable discussions, commiserated on common issues faced by each group.

One participant summed up especially well the sentiments of several: “If you get two or three ideas at the meeting from someone or something, you’ve picked up your meeting costs,” said APMA member David Lamb, president of Legacy Automation, Inc., Hoquiam, WA. “That was definitely the case here.”

The arrangement was such a success, according to group leaders, that the three organizations are planning to meet together again during an executive retreat in the fall. The executive functions of each of those groups are handled by the same office in Falls Church, VA.

“The officers and the Program Committee unanimously support continuation of the tripartite approach,” said Joe Okey Jr., president of American Monforts, Charlotte, NC, and an ATMA board member, who represented his group during a debriefing session that wrapped up the four-day event.

“Alignment of macro issues among the three industries exceeded expectations,” according to a summary of those proceedings. “This opens the door to a multitude of program topics and approaches.”

Further, all three associations agreed that “their individual association identities were not compromised by the tripartite format. The tripartite format represents a new culture. No one group is trying to dominate, and occasionally there will be need for compromise.”

During their annual business sessions, ATMA members said they were especially sensitive to industry conditions these days, as evidenced by sparse attendance, and pursued the subject of scheduling meetings in the foreseeable future in locales more conducive to a majority turnout, they said. Prior to this meeting, scheduled more than a year ago, officials said they would have moved this function to U.S. soil if penalties for doing so had not been so steep.

ATMA leadership agreed that the 2003 annual meeting will take place in Charleston, SC, sometime in early April. APMA also will participate in this event, while PEMA leaders will explore that as a possibility.

The groups scheduled their executive retreat for Sept. 29-Oct. 1 at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. The program will include association break-out meetings, an export resource roundtable and perhaps one or two multiple association panels, officials said.

At the end of the annual meeting, Harry W. “Buzz” Buzzerd, president of ATMA, made a point to appeal to association members, some of whom have felt disillusioned lately, especially as it relates to the debate that surrounded the future of the American Textile Machinery Exhibition-International trade show, he said.

“One big change as a result of all these activities over the last two or three years is that the ATMA leadership, the board of directors and the officers and staff have realized that the association has been somewhat remiss with respect to paying enough attention to the grassroots members,” he told STN. “We are going to return to the philosophy and to the practices that really made and makes ATMA so strong and useful, and that is involving the association and the members weekly and monthly on business activities.

“Again, we drifted away a little bit from that because we were so consumed with resolving the (ATME-I) show matters and show issues, which was appropriate at the time, because it was a matter of survival for ATMA to get all this in order. But we realized that maybe there was a little collateral damage there that we’re correcting.”

Board elections

ATMA members elected five members to its board of directors for three-year terms. They include: John Farmer, president of Micro Services Group, Inc., Valley, AL; Richard Ligon, vice president of Lang Ligon & Co., Inc., Greenville, SC; Clarence “Butch” Moss Jr., sales manager of Textube Corp., Greer, SC; Tom Novinc, president of D.A. Moore Corp., Concord, NC; and Mike Viniconis, vice president and general manager of Argus Fire Control, Charlotte, NC.

Chairman Kurt Scholler, CEO of American Truetzschler, reached the halfway point of his two-year tenure. His vice chairmen include W. Fred Moorhead Jr. of Marshall & Williams, Greenville, SC, and John M. “Jay” White Jr. of Morrison Textile Machinery, Fort Lawn, SC.

Presentations

Members heard presentations from several speakers, including Peter Schutz, former president and CEO of Porsche AG, who presented a dynamic, two-part session on leadership; James Thompson, a senior-level consultant of 14 years and founder of Talo Analytical International, Inc., who covered e-commerce; Carlos Moore, executive vice president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), who spoke on legislative issues; and Leon Bendesky, director of Sirem, a Mexico City-based international economic consulting firm, who explored Latin American market opportunities.

Highlights from some of those presentations will be covered in future editions.

ATMA, APMA, PEMA GATHERING

Week of February 25, 2002

ATMI takes aim at U.S. dollar

By Devin Steele

Carlos Moore, executive vice president of The American Textile Manufacturers Institute, addresses ATMA members.

PUERTA VALLARTA, MEXICO — The American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) and allied groups are taking aim at the overvalued U.S. dollar, which they contend lies at the root of many of the United States’ economic problems.

The 85-member lobbying and services association, based in Washington, DC, has joined forces with broad-based industry and trade organizations to participate in the Coalition for a Sound Dollar, ATMI Executive Vice President Carlos Moore announced as a speaker during the American Textile Machinery Association’s (ATMA) annual business meeting here this month.

The mission of the coalition is to convince the Bush Administration that the dollar is overvalued and to act, along with other major countries, “to change the dollar’s value to reflect economic fundamentals,” Moore said, who admitted that this is an “heroic” task.

Members of the group, which meets weekly, include the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the AFL-CIO and the American Farm Bureau, along with several industry trade associations. Besides ATMI, other members include the Aerospace Industries Association, the American Forest & Paper Association, the Association for Manufacturing Technology, the Motor Equipment Manufacturers Association, the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association and the Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America.

“In the past few months, we have found that there are a lot of industries around this country that are also suffering because of the exchange rate,” Moore told ATMA conferees, along with members of the American Paper Machinery Association and the Process Equipment Manufacturers’ Association. “For some, it’s because the (U.S.) dollar is too strong compared to the euro, because they sell to Europe. For others, it’s because the (U.S.) dollar is too strong compared to the Canadian dollar because they sell into Canada. And, certainly, those who are having problems with imports from the Far East, from Japan and other countries, are really hurting.”

According to a study released by NAM last week, at least 400,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost as a result of the plunge in exports due principally to the overvalued dollar. U.S. manufactured exports have fallen $115 billion in the last year and a half — the largest such plunge in U.S. history, the study revealed.

Since 1997, the U.S. dollar has risen 30 percent against other currencies, the study said.

Meanwhile, ATMI has asserted that the dollar has risen an average of 40 percent against top Asian currencies.

“We’re going to continue to push, because no matter what Congress does in terms of trade policy, it can all be undone by the value of the dollar, by exchange rate changes,” Moore said. “And you can fight like hell to get something done in Washington and yet when currencies go down, it undercuts anything you’ve tried to do.”

The coalition is seeking to change the value of the dollar by meeting with key administration officials, developing analyses and talking points, mounting media campaigns and building Congressional concern and support, Moore said.

Other actions ATMI is taking, Moore said, is 1) to repair the damage caused by the problem by building a political case, providing input to the White House, defining remedies, etc; 2) to make a case with the administration and Congress that much of world trade in textiles and apparel is unfair; and 3) to get Congress and the administration to repair the damage.

Moore added that choice of words is important when attempting to persuade government officials on this issue.

“One of the problems you have when you talk about exchange rates is saying, ‘the dollar’s too strong,’ ” he said. “Well, nobody likes to say, ‘we ought to have a weaker dollar’ because ‘strong’ and ‘weak,’ especially to politicians, carry a very bad underlying meaning. They don’t like to talk about a weak dollar. The dollar has to be strong; we’re a strong country.

“But the point is, the dollar is either undervalued or overvalued or roughly in some equilibrium, based on its economics.”

Galey and Lord

Week of February 25, 2002

Bankruptcy bug bites G&L

GREENSBORO, NC — Another textile manufacturer is seeking court protection from its creditors.

Galey & Lord, the largest U.S. maker of khaki fabric and a major denim producer, filed bankruptcy petitions Tuesday to become the fifth major textile maker in 16 months to seek Chapter 11 protection. Pillowtex Corp., Burlington Industries, CMI Industries and Malden Mills have also filed for protection.

A spin-off of Burlington Industries, Galey & Lord has cut about 5,000 employees over the last two years, but the company said it expects no further plant closures as its seeks to rework its reported $615 million debt.

The company said that the poor environment in retail, exacerbated by the terrorists attacks of September 11, created an economic climate that necessitated a debt restructuring.

“Over the past two years, Galey & Lord has taken a number of steps that have reduced its costs and rationalized its production to the appropriate size,” said Arthur Wiener, chairman and CEO. “We are now taking steps to resolve our financial challenges.”

Galey & Lord said that it has entered into a $100 million in debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing agreement with Wachovia bank. The company said it expects to receive court approval to pay employee wages, salaries and insurance benefits in the normal course.

Included in the filing are subsidiaries Galey & Lord Industries and Swift Textiles, Inc. The company’s international subsidiaries, including Klopman International, have not filed for reorganization and will not be affected, the Galey & Lord said.

During the last two years, Galey & Lord has shut three plants in North Carolina, one in Georgia and one Mexico.

The company’s stock was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange last month and is now traded over the counter.

The company employs about 5,800 people worldwide, including 4,100 in the U.S. It makes denim for Levi Strauss & Co., its largest customer.

“When this action is successfully completed, the company will have a strong balance sheet that will enable it to pursue its strategic goals,” Wiener said.

STA part 3

Week of February 25, 2002

Normal? Not in spinning, either, speaker says

By Devin Steele

CHARLOTTE, NC — Things are hardly “normal” in the short staple spinning industry in the U.S. and Canada right now, according to B. Everette Scarboro Jr.

Scarboro, vice president of product development for Schlafhorst, Inc., Charlotte, NC, drew that conclusion after offering his assessment of yarn manufacturing trends during the Southern Textile Association’s Winter Technical Seminar recently. He took over for the task of keeping a running record of spindles in place in the U.S./Canadian market when Helmut Duessen retired. Scarboro shared his latest data with the group, which numbered nearly 300.

Since 1998, he has undertaken to account for the installed base of short staple spinning machinery in the U.S. and Canada by technology, by count range and by fiber type.

With about 122,700 rotors, 700,000 ring spindles and 33,300 air-jet spindles last year idled and not restarted, for varying reasons, things were hardly normal, he said. As such, further modernization is not what is needed most right now, even though better technology exists, he said.

“Imports as a result of the Asian currency crisis need to be stopped or adequately compensated for” first, he said. “It was said last week (at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences) that China had taken actions to prevent cheap textiles from other southeast Asian countries from entering their market. If they can do this to protect their domestic industry and still qualify under WTO, why can’t we?”

In sharing his figures, Scarboro noted that about this time last year, he and his aides estimated that the spinning potential in the U.S. and Canada was 6.11 billion pounds, assuming more or less full utilization of spinning machinery in place at that time, he said. During 2001, however, numerous ring spindles, rotors and air-jet spindles were taken out of operation, leaving a much smaller base at the beginning of this year.

Applying the same procedure, they determined the spinning potential of short staple machinery in North America to be 5.37 billion for 2002, but already other spinning operations have been stopped, he noted.

Last year, while most of the rotors were older and/or manual machines, some that were removed were still categorized as modern, mid-life machines, Scarboro said. In ring spinning, most were older, manual-doff machines, but at least two installations that ceased were fairly new and automated, he said. Information is less definitive in the air-jet sector, he added.

So, what does that leave in the U.S. and Canada? According to Scarboro, about 796,100 rotors are still running and they have the potential to spin 3.6 billion pounds of yarn per year, which is 67.3 percent of all short-staple pounds produced, he pointed out.

Meanwhile, about 2.64 million ring spindles are left, with a potential for 1.24 billion pounds per year, or about 23.1 percent of all pounds, he said.

And, by his best estimates, about 112,000 spindles of air-jet or Vortex remain, he said. These spindles account for 9.6 percent of spun pounds, or a little more than half a billion pounds of yarn per year.

Of remaining rotor positions, about 69 percent are modern and competitive, with 31 percent of the remaining rotors due for replacement, Scarboro said.

“If 2002 is a repeat of 2001, these older rotors will be stopped off and not replaced,” he said.

Remaining ring spindles are about 50 percent split modern/automated and traditional/manual, he added.

Fiber production

On the subject of distribution by fiber count, Scarboro said that about 3.2 billion pounds, or 60 percent, of the potential 5.379 billion pounds per year are likely to be 100 percent cotton yarns. The vast majority of cotton yarns will come from rotor spinning, which he estimates will be 71 percent. Ring yarns will account for 28 percent of all cotton yarns, with air-jet contributing the remaining 1 percent.

He added that 1.7 billion pounds, or 32 percent, are likely to be blends of cotton. Rotor dominates, at 1.1 billion pounds, followed by air-jet and ring.

Rotor leads the consumers of 100 percent synthetic fibers, as well, probably due to the use of rotor to make medium-to-coarse weaving and industrial yarns, he said.

Related to cotton usage, Scarboro said that his staff estimated that consumption last year could have reached 9.27 million bales in North America, including 8.8 million bales in the U.S. However, he reported, USDA estimates during the Beltwide event were coming in at 7.7 million bales for the U.S.

“Though limited to cotton, this would suggest that utilization of spinning potential was only about 87 percent for 2001,” he said.

Getting here

After discussing productivity increases in machinery over the past decade, Scarboro spent a few minutes discussing where the spinning industry “ought to be.”

“As I think back over the last 20 or so years, I recall a very different industry before NAFTA, CBI, WTO and the Asian currency crisis,” he said. “Our industry was a much more predictable place to be, not to mention more secure for those of us working in it. Companies were earning money. Companies were investing to modernize and to provide safer workplaces. There was the feeling there would be a future.”

But what if things had stayed “normal?,” he then mused. “My theory is that if our industry had not been influenced by NAFTA, CBI, WTO and that it simply continued along the growth rate of the 1980s, we might not be in quite the shape we’re in today.”

Scarboro also said that he theorized that he could estimate yarn production capacity in the market today if things had continued in a “normal” pattern. He was able to collect data only for 100 percent cotton yarns dating back to 1980, but it included figures from the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Using a bar graph to illustrate his point, he showed a rapidly growing cotton surplus in the NAFTA region beginning around 1991.

“In NAFTA, we had a surplus of at least 1 billion pounds of cotton yarn each year during that time,” he said. “All three countries are guilty of contributing to this.”

The U.S., which accounted for about 56 percent of the overage of yarn pounds, is the only one of the three countries showing tendencies to correcting for the oversupply, he added. “Downward trends make it look as if the U.S. is going to correct for the entire overage in NAFTA,” he said.

If the growth rate of spun yarn had continued at its rate of the ’80s, then production volume in the U.S. and Canada for this year should come in at just above 6.5 billion pounds, Scarboro surmised.

“But the reality is that there is not enough spinning machinery in the U.S. and Canada to get much beyond 5.4 million pounds,” he said. “In a normal market, this might even suggest there is opportunity to restore some lost capacity. From the standpoint of a machinery supplier to the spinning industry, this is what we would love to see happen.

“Am I leaving in Dreamland? Probably.”

The reality also that the North American spinning industry should be expected to contract at the rate of at least 200 million pounds per year, using the most recent trend lines, he added.

“This must concern us all,” he said. “I can tell you it concerns us as spinning machinery suppliers. If this rate of decline is not halted and reversed, then faster, more productive machines from Schlafhorst or anybody else aren’t going to matter.”

Remedies

After pinpointing the problems and the realities, Scarboro offered his opinion on what must be done to reverse those trends. First of all, he said, profitability must be restored and debt must be reduced. “As much as we’d like to sell machines, we’d also like to get paid for them,” he said.

Secondly, the industry must retake its fair share of goods bought by consumers, he pointed out. Thirdly, he added, no single company can fix the problem. And, finally, the industry can’t survive without meaningful support from the government, he said.

“I just wish I knew what to tell you to do to fix this mess we find ourselves in,” Scarboro said.

MACHINERY SUPPLIERS

Week of February 25, 2002

Dawson handling F.O.R. cards

GREENSBORO, NC — F.O.R. of Biella, Italy, is now represented by Dawson Textile Machinery in the United States and Canada for F.O.R.’s complete line of cards.

F.O.R. produces woolen, worsted and semi-worsted cards. The company is also a world leader in the supply of nonwoven cards. Several patented processes enable its cards to arrive up to 400 meters per minute for direct web, according to the company. F.O.R. cards already in the market are running routinely at 350 meters per minute, the firm added.

F.O.R. has a complete trial room of production machinery, with the possibility of running a direct web through a Comerio Ercole calendar and ACelli Winding Unit. For needle punching it has a line with an Automatex crosslapper and needle loom for speeds up to 150 meters per minutes.

Claude Dawson recently visited F.O.R., where a trial was being done on 2 denier, 40 mm, polypropylene, 19 gsm cover stock at 400 meters per minute, meeting all the quality standards, he reported.

Sulzer gets repeat order for M8300s

Germany-based fabric maker Lauffenmuhle, part of the Daun Group, has been so impressed with Sulzer Textil’s M8300 multiphase weaving machines that the company is having more of the machines installed this year, Sulzer officials reported.

Lauffenmuhle has used the machines since the beginning of last year to produce industrial twill. H. Hyrenbach, CEO of Lauffenmuhle, said that the company’s high expectations had been exceeded by the results of the M8300.

Among those results are quality and lower production costs, he said.

According to Hyrenbach, the main reasons for the repeat order include:

• great development potential with the M8300, which has led Lauffenmuhle to plan to run a significant proportion of its production on these machines;

• production costs with the M8300 are already lower than the single-phase air-jet weaving machines. These can be further reduced considerably if there is an increased number of machines per weaving-machine operator; and

• high fabric quality.

These advantages lead to a situation where companies in high-wage countries, such as Germany, can compete with low-wage countries when producing standard greige articles, Hyrenbach said.

Lauffenmuhle, a 550-person operation, is a full vertical company that produces innovative textiles.

The company maintains a close cooperation with leading machine producers in the development of new technologies.

ATMI testimony

Week of February 25, 2002

Equitable trade policies urged

WASHINGTON, DC — In wide-ranging testimony submitted February 7th to the Senate Finance and House Ways & Means Committees, the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) called on Congress and the Bush Administration to make a number of changes to current trade policies in order to ensure equitable treatment for the struggling U.S. textile industry.

The two committees held hearings February 6-7 on President Bush’s trade agenda for this year.

The ATMI testimony noted that, at a similar hearing exactly 11 months ago to the day, it had listed three basic principles which should govern U.S. trade policy and trade agreements affecting textiles:

1) trade agreements must be fair and equitable to the domestic industry;

2) trade agreements must be enforceable; and

3) the U.S. government must exhibit the will to enforce trade agreements.

However, the association noted, while its support for these principles has not changed since its testimony last year, “What has changed since that date is that more than 100 U.S. textile mills have closed and over 60,000 U.S. textile workers have lost their jobs. Today, the U.S. textile industry is experiencing its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”

ATMI cited “an enormous and destructive increase in the value of the dollar,” particularly against the currencies of Asian textile exporting countries, as a major cause of the industry’s woes.

“The administration should abandon its ‘strong dollar’ policy and move judiciously in concert with other countries to gradually bring the value of the dollar down,” ATMI said. “This would have a more beneficial long-term impact on the entire U.S. manufacturing sector, including textiles, than almost any other single step.”

Turning to pending trade issues, ATMI urged Congress and the administration to fulfill the various commitments made to textile state representatives during the debate over trade promotion authority, “without any compromise or further delay. To do otherwise would be an unconscionable breach of trust and call into question why textile-state members of Congress should allow the president to negotiate trade agreements without maintaining Congress’ ability to modify the legislation implementing such agreements.”

ATMI also expressed concern that “the WTO Ministerial Declaration and other documents agreed to in Doha by the U.S. and other WTO members will encourage Asian exporters to keep their textile markets closed.”

In its testimony, ATMI pointed out that, “the Doha agreement does not prohibit India and other countries from continuing to hide behind protective barriers while simultaneously enjoying far greater access, and seeking even greater access, to our markets at the expense of U.S. textile jobs.”

Regarding tariffs, ATMI said that it continues to urge that the United States adopt specific objectives and guidelines concerning U.S. textile and apparel tariffs. These objectives must include freezing U.S. textile and apparel tariffs, and forcing Asian and other countries to bring their tariffs down to U.S. levels and remove their non-tariff barriers without delay, the group added.

Finally, the institute reiterated its call for the U.S. government to “reject any efforts to weaken U.S. trade laws” as part of the new round of global trade talks.

On other issues, ATMI urged that any Free Trade Agreement of the Americas must be fair and beneficial to U.S. textiles, it must have enforceable rules and the government must be willing to enforce those rules.

Guilford pursuing bankruptcy?

Week of February 25, 2002

Company to sell fabrics division

GREENSBORO, NC — Guilford Mills may file a prepackaged bankruptcy plan if it can work out a deal with its lenders regarding its $275 million debt, according to reports.

“The company is hopeful that a restructuring can be reached in which the company’s outstanding debt would be reduced to an acceptable level,” the company said in a report filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “It is anticipated that an agreed upon restructuring will be accomplished through a reorganization under the bankruptcy laws.”

Guilford said Tuesday that its lenders had again extended the deadline for the company to work out a debt refinancing plan. The new deadline is March 29.

In other news coming from Guilford last week, the company said it plans to sell a home fashion fabrics division to an England concern.

The sale of Guilford Home Fashion to Homestead Fabrics, Ltd. is putting about 460 people out of work, as the buyer does not plan to continue any of its manufacturing or distribution operations. Guilford Home Fashions currently employs about 335 people at its Herkimer, NY, and New York City locations and has laid off 125 people over the past few weeks as operations began winding down.

“We tried very hard to sell Guilford Home Fashions as an ongoing business,” said John A. Emrich, president and CEO. “But I’m sorry to say we were unsuccessful. I know this will be very hard on our associates and their families.”

Homestead Fabrics is a subsidiary of Manchester, England-based Broome & Wellington, which specializes in sourcing products for the textile industry. Homestead is acquiring Guilford Home Fashions’ name, trademarks, certain inventories and other assets.

Guilford reported Tuesday a net loss of $15.1 million, or 82 cents per share, for the quarter ending Dec. 30. Two weeks ago, Guilford’s stock was suspended from the New York Stock Exchange.

The company has closed four U.S. plants and trimmed more than 1,000 jobs over the last two years.

Pillowtex

Week of February 25, 2002

Pillowtex to close facility in Dallas

KANNAPOLIS, NC — Pillowtex Corp. is closing its pillow plant in Dallas, TX, putting about 97 people out of work.

Layoffs began Feb. 1 and will continue until May 31, according to The Business Journal of Dallas.

Pillow shells are made at the plant. Those operations will be moved to plants in California, Illinois, Mississippi and Pennsylvania.

“The (Dallas) operations will be consolidated into the remaining pillow and pad branches in order to streamline production and improve service and delivery time to our customers,” Aaron Owens, division vice president for the pillow and pad division, said in a statement.

Pillowtex has owned and operated the plant since 1988.

Pillowtex has eliminated more than 2,000 positions over the past two years, including about 700 in the sale of its Beacon blanket manufacturing division.

The company has moved most of its corporate headquarters from Dallas to here during that time.

Pillowtex, which has been reorganizing under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since Nov. 2000, still employs about 80 people in Dallas, at either its feather-processing plant or at a corporate administrative office.

Culp

Week of February 25, 2002

Culp turns profit in third quarter

HIGH POINT, NC — Culp, Inc. turned a modest profit in the third quarter after falling $5.5 million in arrears for the same period last year.

BOTTOM LINE

2002 3Q
2001 3Q
Net sales:

$90.6 million

$95.9 million
Net income:
$170 thousand
-$5.5 million
Per share (diluted):
$.02
-$.49

The company, which markets upholstery fabrics for furniture and mattress ticking for bedding, made $170,000 on sales that were $5.3 million less than the year-ago third quarter.

“Culp’s ability to achieve a profit during the most recent quarter was due to operational improvements, especially from our mattress ticking group, and to the restructuring actions and other steps we have taken to reduce costs,” said Robert G. Culp III, chief executive officer. “Because of scheduled holiday plant closings, the third fiscal quarter is not usually the strongest period of the year for our business. Our expectation of this seasonal softness in sales put an even greater emphasis on containing expenses.”

Milliken

Week of February 25, 2002

Milliken’s Sycamore plant a ‘Star’

CLINTON, SC — Milliken & Company’s Sycamore Transportation Distribution Facility has been designated a “Palmetto Star” in workplace safety and health by the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (LLR).

Rita McKinney, director of LLR, made the announcement to associates of the plant recently in a ceremony recognizing the accomplishment. Sycamore is the first transportation and warehousing location in South Carolina to receive the award and has won numerous fleet and safety awards, including first Place from the National Private Truck Council and Best Known Record by the National Safety Council.

“Palmetto Star” is the Labor Department’s vehicle to recognize employers who voluntarily exceed the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in providing their workers a safe and healthy work-site.

“Management commitment to safety is evident here at the Sycamore plant,” McKinney said. “But without the involvement and commitment to safety of all associates, this milestone would have not been realized. It is obvious that the associates here have bought into the safety program. Employee awareness and participation in a company safety program are critical if it is to work and flourish.”

Transportation Manager Archie Shue added, “Obtaining the Palmetto Star certification is a tremendous accomplishment for all of our Sycamore associates. I share in their pride and applaud the hard work and dedication that went into earning this award.”

Qualification for the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) is not an easy task. An applicant must demonstrate management commitment to safety, assess hazards that may be present within their workplaces, maintain a system for hazard correction and control and provide employees with safety and health programs.

Having met those mandates, the applicant has one final hurdle to clear, which for most proves to be the greatest obstacle. That is, the requirement that the company have a lost workday injury rate that is 50 percent below the state average for the applicant’s industry for the last three years.

There are more than 7 million work sites in the United States. Only 710 are OSHA VPP STAR sites and 49 of those are Milliken sites. In South Carolina there are 40 total VPP STAR sites and 30, or 75 percent, of those are Milliken sites.

Editorial: Loose Ends

Week of February 25, 2002

Yep, it’s secure ...

By Devin Steele

GENTLEMEN, had the ol’ prostate checked lately?

Now’s the time — and you don’t even need a doctor’s appointment. The fee may or may not be much higher than a visit to the Gloved One. That depends on your destination. That’s right ... just book you a nice trip on the commercial airliner of your choice to redeem your free “Drop ’Em” coupon. And, not to leave you out, ladies, free mammograms are available for you. Now, follow me here ...

Nearly five months after September 11, I worked up the courage to return to the friendly skies, not knowing exactly what to expect. Security would be tight, I knew. Stories of shoe removal had made the rounds in my office. I anticipated the armed National Guardsman standing duty. I expected brutally long lines.

As a reporter/photographer, I carried a bag full of recording devices — two Nikons, a camcorder, two lenses, a dozen rolls of film, a microcassette player, a Walkman, and, to ensure a raised eyebrow and a screening that was over and above the average flyer, a roll of Lifesavers. And that’s not to mention a briefcase, which contained a laptop and a week’s supply of Pepto-Bismol, No-Doz and Melatonin.

What I didn’t expect was that my goodie bags would earn me a “Random Security Check” — at every gate. “Please step over to your right,” I was told, as four Random Security Checkers glared at me with Rotweiller eyes.

“Whatever,” I thought. “I’m clean.” And if it means I’ll arrive from Point A to Point B in one piece, so be it. Let the exams begin!

BUT WHAT I experienced was a 15-minute “inquisition,” which included the Magic Wand saying, in its own words, “what is this, scum bag?” Or, “you can’t get this by me, dip wad.” And All Things Metallic, including the aluminum foil remnants from the former roll of Lifesavers in my shirt pocket, screamed “Hola!” (which seemed appropriate, as I was headed South of the Border). Even my Starbucks’ cup was strip-searched. “Yukon Dark,” the screener sniffed, like the finest wine connoisseur.

The whole adventure made me crave a cigarette — and I don’t even smoke.

My bags, meanwhile, were taken to their own private interrogation area, where they were asked such probing questions as, “Has your owner been with you since you were packed?” and “has anyone asked you to pack something not belonging to your owner?”

The experience traumatized my bags so much, they’re now in counseling.

If nothing else, at least the screeners were afforded the privilege of smelling the insides of a pair of Cole Haans worn by a Weary Traveler.

DON’T GET me wrong. This isn’t a complaint. Just merely a few observations, so those of you in the industry who haven’t flown since that world-changing day will know what to expect. We might add that the soon-to-be-at-the-time designated government workers didn’t act as such at all. Already, they have bragging rights over the DMV Gestapo in terms of expediency and attitude.

The problem I have with these very personal proceedings, though, is that everyone doesn’t have to undergo this “procedure.” They know I’m safe after a thorough, um, “review” of my person, equipment and accessories. But what about the guy who comes through wearing an innocent grin and concealing a piece of broken glass, for instance? That’s something to consider, Mr. Ridge.

So, the next time you fly, be sure to arrive early, be patient and wear a smile.

And clean underwear.

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