Strides made, Hayes says

Week of April 8, 2002

Industry earns place at table, he contends

Outgoing ATMI President Chuck Hayes (R) accepts a plaque from Van May that recognizes him for his years of service to the organization.
Photo by Devin Steele

By Devin Steele

WASHINGTON, DC — Chuck Hayes, chairman of Guilford Mills, Greensboro, NC, called his term as president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) “hell on wheels.”

And that may be an understatement, given the fact that the U.S. textile industry, its national trade association and even his company endured probably their most challenging year ever.

But that doesn’t mean his service to the organization, and ATMI’s work on the industry’s behalf, was diminished, he said.

“Under the most adverse conditions that I’ve seen in the last 50 years, we did make strides in working with the (Bush) administration by, at least, being at the table to be involved in discussions,” Hayes told more than 100 delegates during the group’s 53rd annual meeting here recently. “Never forget: If you’re not at the table, you don’t count, no matter who you are or what you are.”

His successor, Van May, credited Hayes with helping to raise the industry’s profile during his tenure, through various communication efforts and by working closely with Congressional leaders and cabinet members — one of whom, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, had addressed the group a few minutes earlier.

“What we’ve got to do now is make sure that the commitments that were made (during the trade promotion authority vote) are followed up on and continue to build on the profile that we have established,” said May, president and CEO of Plains Cotton Cooperative Association (PCCA), Lubbock, TX, who holds the new ATMI title “chairman.” “And I think with a good identification of the problem, which we have done, commitments from our friends here in Washington and the help of industry leaders, which we have, then we can develop a model for success and regain some prosperity in U.S. cotton and in U.S. textiles.

“My pledge to you is to work hard toward that end.”

Raising the industry’s profile came partially as a result of that TPA vote in December, when promises were made by administration officials to look after textile interests in future trade agreements. Several House members who voted for the measure in exchange for the promises, including ATMI speaker Robin Hayes (R-NC), have since been criticized for their votes.

“Some of you may disapprove of the position of some members of Congress on trade promotion authority,” Hayes said. “Some of you may be skeptical about the commitments that they received. But I don’t know of any period in our industry’s history where we got commitments from the president, from Congress members and from leaders of the House of Representatives on our issues. But, like everything else in life — the proof, the pudding, is in the eating.”

On Evans, Hayes added: “I’m extremely happy to say that Secretary Evans is an individual who exudes honesty and who believes that a handshake really has meaning. We have had the opportunity to meet twice and in both instances I went away feeling that we finally have someone in the administration who understands what we are facing.”

Before handing the gavel to May, Hayes left him with two challenges.

“First, the textile industry must stop being a bargaining chip,” Hayes said. “We must gain the respect that an industry of our size truly deserves.

“And, secondly, you must continue to preach unity. We have sectors of our industry and companies in our industry that are not willing to commit to a unified, cohesive industry, unless it’s on their terms. Unless that changes we will not achieve the things that are needed for our growth and survival.”

During his remarks, May called himself a consensus builder. As a member of the cotton industry who also operates textile manufacturing facilities, he added that he brings a unique perspective to the position.

“The U.S. cotton industry and the U.S. textile industry are joined at the hip,” he said. “We can’t segregate those. And those in the cotton business have to recognize that it takes more than a good farm bill for cotton to succeed.

“You know, the farm bill’s called a safety net,” he added. “Those words don’t imply success and prosperity to me. Safety net — that sounds like critical care. What we’ve got to have is a combination of good farm policy and good trade policy.”

On that matter, May said that unfair trade practices have been extremely damaging to the U.S. textile and cotton industries. As an example, he mentioned India, which he said has done little to open its markets since entering the World Trade Organization.

“Since then, we haven’t shipped enough textile goods over there to wad a shotgun shell, and you all know it,” he said.

He explained that India keeps its markets closed by imposing a 40 percent tariff on denim imports, plus a 10 percent surcharge and the cost of an import license. India, however, pays only an 8.5 percent tariff on exports to the U.S., he added.

“That’s no more than a cover charge at a good west Texas honky tonk,” he said.

‘TECH’ NOTE:

Week of April 8, 2002

Hot sector to be spotlighted at TechTextil North America

ATLANTA — To get technical for a moment, a highly specialized and fast-growing segment of the textile industry takes center stage in this hemisphere this week.

Techtextil North America, the international trade fair for technical textiles and nonwovens, takes place Wednesday through Friday at the Cobb Galleria Centre here. An accompanying symposium runs Tuesday through Thursday.

This will mark the second run of the show, which attracted 4,300 visitors from 16 countries to more than 250 booths in 2000, also at this venue.

This year, more than 300 exhibitors and 5,000 attendees are expected, according to show producer Messe Frankfurt of Germany.

Growth from show to show reflects a trend in this industry segment, which runs a wide gamut of applications, from construction materials to medical equipment to protective clothing. Annual growth rates in technical textiles is expected to exceed 5 percent through 2005, according to Messe Frankfurt.

North America is the world industry leader in terms of market size and innovation of high-end technical materials, as well as in solving problems using engineered fibrous products.

Several countries plan to have national pavilions, including Belgium, France, Germany, Brazil and Taiwan.

In addition to these national presentations, several prominent partners will present practical applications. One of these is The Office of Law Enforcement Technology Commercialization (OLETC). OLETC is a program of the National Institute of Justice and was established to develop and deploy an active, broad-based national program to assist in the commercialization of innovative technologies for use by the law enforcement and corrections communities.

OLETC is charged with identifying new technologies and product concepts while working with innovators and manufacturers to develop, manufacture and distribute such new products. OLETC actively solicits manufacturers to commercialize technologies based on requirements identified by law enforcement and corrections practitioners.

Exhibitors will display innovations in the following product groups: research, development, planning consultation; technology, machinery, accessories; fibers and yarn; woven fabrics, laid webs, braiding, knitted fabrics; nonwovens; coated textiles, zesplasma; composites; and bondtec.

The user application areas for these product groups include: Agrotech, Buildtech, Clothtech, Geotech, Hometech, Inductech, Medtech, Mobiltech, Oekotech, Packtech, Protech and Sporttech.

Symposium highlights

The high-end symposium will feature a range of program segments, including new and emerging technologies, standards and testing, construction, interior and office textiles, high-performance fibers and yarns, protective textiles, technology for technical nonwovens and automotive textiles.

Two simultaneous tracks will take place the morning and afternoon of each day of the three-day event. The focus of symposium is on the use of innovation and creativity in solving problems using technical fabrics.

John A. Boland III, former president of Swift Mfg. Co. and CEO of Dominion Textiles, will provide the keynote address. Boland currently serves as the GTMA Executive in Residence at Georgia Tech’s School of Textiles and Fiber Engineering.

Boland’s address, entitled “Engineered Textiles — A Fascinating Conclusion,” will provide insights into the current and future developments of the industry. The presentation will culminate with a “logical conclusion” for the textile industry in the U.S.

Also featured will be two special sessions. The National Textile Center segment, led by NTC Director Joe Cunning, will present a number of research projects of the joint university consortium, with opportunities to interact with the researchers on this important work. Many of these projects will lead to innovative products for future production, according to show organizers.

Another program, developed by Stephen Metzger of International Competitive Assessments, involves the complete product development process, from inception to market introduction. Bringing new products to market is a multidisciplinary process involving a variety of corporate functions from research and development to marketing and sales.

This session brings together individuals from various disciplines, perspectives and responsibilities, each having an impact on successfully bringing a new product or application to commercial success.

“This is an exciting concept,” said Symposium Director Bill Smith of Industrial Textile Associates, Greer, SC. “Most companies simply do not appreciate the complex product development process. They fail to organize, staff and adequately finance the product development function.

“Consequently, most efforts are not focused, achieve unsatisfactory results and are a poor use of corporate resources. This session will help focus a company and get them started in the right direction.”

Meanwhile, Natick Soldier Center will review new materials being developed for military use. Among areas to be discussed will be a new, experimental fiber (M5) in development based on spider silk.

The UV stable fiber is super strong, with tensile modulus of 400-450 GPa versus current high of 300 GPa, and with the highest flame and thermal properties of any organic fiber currently in use — up to 20 times better than meta aramids, according to Messe Frankfurt publicity.

Also being discussed will be an update on intelligent textiles, or fabrics that respond to stimuli and are activated to perform a function; nanotechnology; and improved chemical and biological agent protective materials.

A second Natick program will cover extreme, high-pressure beams used in temporary building construction.

Messe Frankfurt puts on similar exhibitions in Germany, South America and Asia in alternating years.

Hayes

Week of April 8, 2002

Hayes’s district gets federal assistance

ROCKINGHAM, NC — The 8th Congressional District of North Carolina has received a federal grant to assist laid-off employees in textiles and other manufacturing industries, U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC) announced Tuesday.

The next day Hayes hosted a “town hall meeting” here, organized by his office, that focused on procuring more federal funds and using those resources to promote job creation in his district.

Dr. David Sampson, head of the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), and Assistant Labor Secretary Emily DeRocco participated in the meeting, which drew more than 100 textile executives and economic development officials.

The 8th district, one of the areas hard hit by the manufacturing recession, will receive National Emergency Grant funds totaling more than $1.4 million to assist about 1,400 people who lost jobs in textiles, furniture and other industries. The Centralina Workforce Development Consortium in the Southern Piedmont (CWDC) region of North Carolina is charged with allocating the funds.

“Yesterday, we got the good news that the U.S. Department of Labor will be awarding a National Emergency Grant to all counties that applied,” Hayes said. “That’s good news for the 8th District and will help our displaced workers as they prepare for future jobs.

“But, we need to do more than retrain our workers. I recently traveled across the 8th District, meeting with local economic development officials and stopping to visit county Employment Security offices. During our discussions, I kept hearing the same comment over and over: ‘We welcome the benefits, but what are we going to train for?’ That’s why I have asked the Economic Development Administration to be here today.”

EDA officials said they would begin working with county representatives to write an initial grant for funding to develop an economic study. According to EDA officials, this study will be used to assign project grants. “People ultimately don’t want unem- ployment checks; they want paychecks,” Sampson said.

MULTI-STATE TEXTILE SUMMIT

Week of April 8, 2002

Godfrey: ‘New World of Textiles’ needed

Editor’s note: In this, part 2 of our coverage of the Multi-State Textile Summit at Gaston College in Dallas, NC, on March 22, remarks by Dr. A. Blanton Godfrey, dean of the College of Textiles at N.C. State University, are published here. The comments of Godfrey and other panelists are so timely and pertinent, we deemed it appropriate to publish them, as a matter of public record for our readers, especially those in position to determine the future of this industry. Other panelists will be spotlighted in subsequent editions.

Dr. A. Blanton Godfrey

I would like to make three points today:

1) We need to support our current textile companies so they can compete, they can continue to provide jobs and drive the economy and they can survive to fight another day.

2) We need to seize the current national initiatives. Our government is going to invest billions of dollars in the next few years in national security. Much of this investment is textile related and we must assure that we get the appropriate share for the nation’s leading textile-producing region; and

3) We need to create the future, build the “New World of Textiles.”

My first point: We can and we must support our current textile companies.

• Fair trade. We must assure that U.S. Customs enforces the existing laws to stop the illegal import of textile products and clarifies CBI and NAFTA to assure that dyeing and finishing are done in this country before anyone can import finished goods back into this country, with no tariffs.

• Competitiveness. We must help improve the competitiveness of textile companies in this region. We need to continue improving the business performance of existing businesses through quality and productivity and supply-chain management. By bringing the newest methodologies and training to textile companies we can help them survive and grow. This we can do through partnerships of our companies, our community colleges, our universities and our states.

• New products and processes. We can create a strategic initiative to provide the business information and technologies companies need to develop new products and compete successfully, here at home and globally. We must help increase the international focus of companies — partnering with our Departments of Commerce and helping companies explore export opportunities and international partnerships.

Secondly, there are several key national initiatives where we — our four states — should provide leadership:

• Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies. This month MIT in Massachusetts was awarded more than $100 million in new research funding for the textiles for equipping our future army. We must assure that the leading textile-producing region in the nation participates in this breakthrough research to help develop the products and production processes for what will be many billions of dollars of uniforms and equipment that must be produced in the USA. Our universities can still play a major role in assuring the technology transfer and enormous manufacturing opportunities that will result from this research and development are in this region.

• National Lab. New National Lab for Protective Fibers and Fabric-Pennsylvania will receive this lab, but much of the pioneering research has been done in North Carolina. The region should be in the best position for the fiber, fabric and apparel production resulting from the research. Cooperative efforts among the leading universities in the four states could make this happen quickly.

• The National Textile Center. Supporting The National Textile Center should be one of our priorities. This center started in this region with an unprecedented collaboration by four universities and now encompasses eight universities from New York to Alabama to California. The research done in this center is essential for creating our future. We must assure that the center has the necessary funds to transfer the results of this research into products and processes that benefit the textile industry in our region.

My third point: creating the “New World of Textiles.” There is an exciting new world of products and industries on the horizon made possible through recent breakthroughs in fiber and polymer science. These include conducting fibers and electrotextiles, biomedical textiles, industrial and geotextiles and revolutionary new apparel. With the appropriate support, this region can be the leader in bringing these products to market through both existing and new companies.

We must assure that this region continues to provide the advanced technologies, the innovative products and the superior design to create economic growth, new jobs and good jobs for our people.

• Fibers. There are new fibers already in final development stages that are going to dwarf the economic impact of the “superfibers” of the past — rayon, nylon, polyester and Kevlar. These are the fibers with which we’ll build our new aircraft, our new vehicles, our new bodies. Research at Georgia Tech, Clemson, North Carolina State University and Virginia Tech is already providing the fundamental fiber and polymer science.

• New processes. We must continue to support the development of new processes that can create new opportunities. Examples include supercritical fluids, C02, for dyeing with no water, no chemicals, no waste water treatment, in half the time at half the cost.

There are also new methods for creating high-quality, high-performance nonwoven fabrics at speeds two hundred times the fastest existing weaving machine. This industry is already a $38 billion industry with over $3 million in North Carolina alone. Four of the top eight states are in this room. Through federal, state and industry grants, we are building the world’s leading pilot production plant in North Carolina today. Clemson, Georgia Tech and University of Georgia are partners.

Also in the works are digital design methods that allow custom fitting, custom design and custom manufacture, one customer at a time — methods that create such efficiencies of producing and selling that there is no way a retailer will be able to afford to outsource production to Asia.

• New products. These new fibers and new processes are already showing us the way to the future. The products from this new world of textiles are beyond the imagination.

They include biomedical textiles: heart valves and arteries, artificial knees and hips, new skin. They include electrotextiles: solar panels, fabric television screens, clothes that cool and heat, clothes that generate electricity as you move, fiber and fabric based computers. They include structures: construction materials, automotive body panels, aircraft.

In closing, there are specific actions our federal and state governments can take now to significantly improve the competitive position of the American textile industry. Several of these are under way — we must assure they are supported.

Other actions are well defined, but we need to accelerate the pace of implementation. By working across the region and involving other affected areas, we can build a national case for long-term success of the textile industry that benefits our nation and our region.

PGI

Week of April 8, 2002

PGI, creditors agree to dismiss petition

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC — Nonwovens producer Polymer Group, Inc. (PGI) and petitioning creditors announced Wednesday that they have reached an agreement to dismiss an involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition filed against PGI on March 25.

The parties have agreed to discuss and negotiate through May 12 terms of a potential restructuring of the company. As a result of this agreement, Polymer is permitted to continue business operations as normal, as if no petition had been filed.

On March 15, PGI announced a comprehensive financial restructuring that proposes to reduce the company’s debt by more than $550 million.

In conjunction with the restructuring, the company launched an exchange offer for all of its senior subordinated notes not held by CSFB Global Opportunities Partners. The company said it has now agreed to extend the exchange offer to May 15.

The company also announced that it lost $182 million in the fourth quarter and $163.3 million in its fiscal year, after recognizing a number of unusual charges, including a non-cash $181.2 million write-down of assets in the last quarter.

Net sales for the quarter decreased $5.2 million, to $197.5 million, while sales fell 5.4 percent, to $815.6 million, for the year.

Russell Corp.

Week of April 8, 2002

Russell Corp. expects to outdo consensus

ATLANTA — Russell Corporation said Tuesday that it expects to exceed analysts’ expectations for the first quarter, which ended March 31.

The apparel maker said it expects to better the consensus estimate of 5 cents per share and report earnings in the range of 6 to 8 cents per share, reported Jack Ward, chairman and CEO.

For the year, the company is now forecasting earnings per share to fall in the $1.45 to $1.60 range per share versus previous guidance of $1.40 to $1.60.

Russell said it anticipates reporting sales of $214 million to $217 million, which is in line with expectations.

A day earlier, the company announced details of a new, comprehensive financial structure. As such, Russell has selected an administrative agent and lead arranger to underwrite and syndicate $375 million in senior secured credit facilities. The proposed facilities will include a five-year, $325 million senior secured revolving credit facility and a five-year, $50 million senior secured term loan.

Russell is also pursuing at least $200 million senior unsecured notes offering.

The company said it intends to use the net proceeds of the senior notes offering, together with the initial borrowings under its proposed new credit facility, to repay the outstanding balances, fees and expenses under its existing revolving credit facility and all of its long-term notes.

Price hikes

Week of April 8, 2002

KoSa, Wellman announce price hikes

KoSa said that it will increase prices by 12 percent on all of its commodity fine denier textile staple products for apparel, home fashions and floor covering markets, effective April 1.

The move, which will affect its North American customers, is being made to help offset the impact of feedstock price increases, the company said.

Meanwhile, Wellman said it will hike the price of its polyester staple by 5 cents per pound, effective with April 29 shipments. The increase, due to raw material costs, is on textile fiber, nonwovens, fiberfill and carpet fiber.

ATMA

Week of April 8, 2002

Trade show seminar scheduled for May 1

CHARLOTTE, NC — A trade show seminar sponsored by the American Textile Machinery Association (ATMA) will focus on marketing opportunities and informational resources.
The event will run from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. here at the Renaissance Suites Hotel, 2800 Coliseum Centre Drive.

Updates will be given on several trade shows, including ATME-I 2004 in Greenville, SC, ATME-I 2006 in Atlanta and ITMA 2003 in Birmingham, England.

Other topics to be covered are 1) what Congress is doing to address the economy, its impact on industry, trade and the future of manufacturing; and 2) where can accurate and timely information be obtained, with so many consolidations, mergers and acquisitions taking place?

Speakers include Butler J. Mullins, president of Textile Hall Corp.; Stephen Brooks, chairman of ATME-I, Inc.; Andrew Bird, operations director of the ITMA 2003 Organizing Committee; and representatives of the media.

Also, a panel discussion led by ATMA leadership will share results of a recently conducted ATMA member interests and needs survey, ATMA’s strategic plan and the benefits to industries served.

Cost is $75 per person and the deadline to register is April 26. For accommodations at the Renaissance Suites, call (704) 357-1414 and ask for the special ATMA rate of $129.

Cotton

Week of April 8, 2002

Trade opportunities focus of Cotton Sourcing Summit

NEW YORK — A conference platform, Cotton’s Sourcing Summit, will focus on optimizing trading opportunities between U.S. importers and retailers, and with manufacturers from the Caribbean Basin and participating sub-Sahara African countries.

The summit take place April 14-16 at Loew’s Miami Beach Hotel in Miami Beach, FL.

Conference discussions will include the economic climate, factors influencing sourcing from the Caribbean Basin and sub-Saharan countries, customs and tariffs, outlook for U.S. and world textile/apparel trade policies and more.

Forrest Sawyer, NBC News and MSNBC anchor, will give the keynote address.

The summit is sponsored by the Importer Support Program of the Cotton Board, Cotton Council International and Cotton Incorporated.

The first summit, which took place a year ago, was conceived after the Trade and Development Act of 2000 to bring together the supply chain of importers, textile mills and garment manufacturers from the CBI.

For more information about the 2002 Summit, contact Elizabeth King at (973) 378-7951 or via e-mail at eking@cottonboard.org.

Editorial

Week of April 8, 2002

Top-to-bottom research reveals textile angle

NOW THAT WE’VE finally finished our “research” on Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition (yeah, it took five weeks, but we had to make sure we left no page unturned), we thought we would take a few moments to muse, diffuse, give views, amuse and possibly confuse. For the record, our investigation reveals once again a theme that seems to recur every year: That SI edition has become popular because of a lack of textiles. ...

• Speaking of a small piece of textiles, isn’t it amusing that a modest-sized fabric is causing such a hubbub in South Carolina? The Confederate flag that flies on the State House grounds in Columbia continues to keep NAACP members up in arms, though the banner was removed from atop the building two years ago. Lately, flag opponents have been camped out at state border rest stops, urging visitors to “boycott” the state by refusing to spend money there until the flag comes down for good. We ask: Doesn’t South Carolina, as many other states, have enough substantive problems to worry about other than the fate of a piece of cloth? Such as the loss of 30,000 textile jobs since 1995? ...

• Where was the Alabama governor during the recent Multi-State Textile Summit, which featured the guvs of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia? The Virginia governor had committed to attend, but had to cancel at the last minute due to an emergency in his state. Doesn’t Alabama constitute a big piece of the well-worn and tattered “Textile Belt?” Was he invited or did he just choose not to attend? Curious minds (OK, those of us with too much time on our hands) want to know. ...

• Please cut Robin Hayes some slack. The congressman from North Carolina’s 8th District continues to be barbecued for his vote on trade promotion authority in December. He, along with fellow TPA voters from the Textile Caucus, has been grilled in radio ads put out by the U.S. Business and Industry Council and, just last week, a group of hourly textile employees and union activists staged a press conference aimed, ultimately, at unseating North Carolina’s mostly-Republican congressional delegation. Which is pretty typical. No doubt, they had been waiting for the opportunity to pounce on anyone who doesn’t contribute to their coffers. And don’t expect them to ever, ever, ever give President Bush any credit or have any patience with his administration, especially regarding the promises made to protect U.S. textile interests. Time will tell, of course. But in the meantime, rabble-rousers, simmer down now. ...

• Regardless of what you think of TPA, you must credit Hayes for standing by his vote and subsequently “facing the jury.” He has been present at several textile and related functions, including ATMI’s recent annual meeting and the governor’s Textile Summit (as were Sue Myrick and Cass Ballenger) and has also made numerous appearances on local radio shows. And, he faced some tough questions by ATMI members and answered them with confidence and plausibility. Hayes, after all, is a hosiery mill owner himself and, at the risk of being politically incorrect, a man of faith. So, you have to believe he cares deeply about the fate of this industry and will work to ensure its future viability. There, we feel better. ...

• Speaking of the ATMI meeting and a man named “Hayes,” we couldn’t help but, um, “chuckle” when we wrote the words “outgoing ATMI President Chuck Hayes.” Can you think of anyone else in this industry who is more outgoing? He certainly brought unprecedented passion to the post, which will be tough to follow, admitted his successor. “Chuck, if I can bring an energy level about half as much as you brought to this job, that will be about twice as much as anybody could expect,” Van May told Hayes at the dais. ...

• Finally, spring has definitely sprung. We know this because our calendar looks like some of our old English papers, thanks to our handy, dandy red pen that has filled in most of the dates for the next two months. Forthcoming appointments include the Techtextil North America trade show, three state association gatherings, a trade show seminar, a club meeting and an open house. How do you guys find time for golf?

See you along the remaining notches of the Textile Belt. ...

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