Day 1:

ATME-I daily edition, April 24, 2001

Better than some expected

By Devin Steele

GREENVILLE, SC — Final visitor figures weren’t in by press time, but several exhibitors said they were pleased with activity and attendance during opening day of the American Textile Machinery Exhibition-International (ATME-I).

“We’ve seen more quality people today than we were expecting,” said Joe Yankey of Zellweger Uster. “We thought today would be slow, but everybody in our booth is very happy. We’ve got people scheduled for tomorrow and Wednesday, but we didn’t have that many people scheduled for today. It’s a good start.”

The sold-out exhibition has attracted 517 exhibitors occupying 270,058 square feet and 25 countries are represented. First-time exhibitors number 80, according to Bob Ellis, CEO of co-sponsor Textile Hall Corporation and show director.

Jim Thomas, president of Picanol of America, also liked what he saw on Day 1. “As was everybody else, we were worried about the turnout, but we’ve been busy today,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of visitors from South America, Mexico and Peru.”

Roger Milliken, chairman and CEO of Milliken & Co., cuts the ribbon to open the American Textile Machinery Exhibition-International 2001 Monday. (L-R) Skip Gehring, president of the American Society of Knitting Technologists; Harry W. Buzzerd, president of the American Textile Machinery Association; Kurt Scholler, chairman of ATMA and CEO of American Truetzschler; Milliken; Dick Heusel, chairman of Textile Hall Corporation; Bob Ellis, CEO of Textile Hall and show director; and Peter Adelman, executive director of the Knitted Textile Association.

Harold Hoke, CEO of Promatech, the combined companies of Somet/Vamatex, described the turnout as “better than light and worse than heavy. The customers are discussing future prospects, so we’re happy with that.”

Among visitors, Allen Barwick, president of Shuford Mills, Hickory, NC, said he and his staff were looking at “any new technologies that will improve our efficiency,” particularly looms, adding that Promatech’s Leonardo rapier weaving machine caught his eye.

Imbroglio

For this week, anyway, sponsors if ATME-I said they want to put their imbroglio aside and concentrate on the show.

The two parties, who are embroiled in a dispute over the site of the next ATME-I in four years and its possible consolidation, put on a happy face Monday. During a morning press conference, Ellis read a statement issued last week by the organization’s board of directors. The statement, in part, read, “Although we are indeed considering options for the future of the exhibition, our focus now is on ATME-I 2001. We are excited about this show, and we want to focus our attention on what’s happening now.”

STN Headliners

ATME-I Dailies, April 25-27, 2001

In this week's editions:

Sales add spice to Tuesday traffic jams

There’s nothing like major sales to spice up a day that already was shaping up as a success, in the minds of organizers and many exhibitors.

Kleinwefers Textile Machinery Corp. announced Tuesday the sale of a 24-rope indigo dye machine and denim finishing range to Artistic Milliner, a vertical denim producer and jeans manufacturer based in Karachbi, Pakistan.

Artistic Milliner continued its buying spree in the Sulzer Textil booth, where it purchasing 40 Sulzer Textil 7150 projectile weaving machines.

The purchase of the dye machine and denim finishing range will double the company’s indigo dyeing capacity.

“This expansion will increase our capacity and allow us to better service our customers,” Yaqoob Ahmed, Artistic Milliner CEO, told STN.

Ahmed said that Wal-Mart is his company’s biggest customer. The company began producing denim in 1993 using Kleinewefers machinery.

Earlier in the day, organizers announced that Monday’s attendance was 3,154 — three visitors better than opening-day attendance of the weaving sector show of 1996. Those figures may be eye-opening to some, given the consolidation that has occured in the industry in recent years.

Show officials did point out that the domestic textile industry has 18 percent fewer employees than it did in ’96, yet productivity has improved 8 percent, according to figures from the American Textile Manufacturers Institute.

About 650 more people crossed the turnstiles Monday than on the first day of ATME-I 2000 in October.

Exhibitors fill more orders on Day 3

By Devin Steele and Alfred Dockery

Exhibitors continued to report steady activity from the show floor Wednesday, a day that saw Sulzer Textil book another big order and a Pakistan-based company continue its buying binge.

“I had high hopes for the show, but not high expectations,” said Harrell Ligon of Lang Ligon & Co. “If (visitors) came any faster, we couldn’t have covered them well and they would’ve just seeped on through. If this keeps up, it’ll be a great show.”

Show organizers announced that 3,420 new visitors crossed the turnstiles Tuesday, bringing the two-day total to 6,574. That total is 20 percent higher than the two-day figures for the October yarn sector ATME-I but off from the ’96 weaving-and-related ATME-I by 1,233, officials reported.

Wednesday’s attendance numbers will be announced this morning.

Another pleased exhibited was Bob Traver of NAEF Press and Dies, Inc., Bolton Landing, NY. “I have almost as many leads by Wednesday morning as I did in the whole October show,” he said, “and a lot more serious interest.”

Sulzer, meanwhile, announced the sale of 24 weaving machines to Textilera Santa Emilia, Guatemala. The order includes both P7250 projectile and G6300 rapier machines.

The projectile machines will be used to produce towels. The rapiers will be used to weave a variety of products, including sheeting, poplins and upholstery fabrics.

Textilera Santa Emilia’s production processes include warp knitting, spinning, weaving and circular knitting. The company has been in business for 35 years and primarily serves the Central American textile market.

Carlos Zimeri Gandara Jr. of Textilera Santa Emilia, told Southern Textile News that his company has had a positive relationship with Sulzer for some years, and that was a factor in the sale.

“They are serious people to do business with,” Zimeri Gandara said. “We have been impressed with the quality of the looms, the service and their desire to work with their customers. They have helped us keep our machines in full production with very good efficiencies.”

On Tuesday, Sulzer sold 40 of its 7150 projective weaving machines to Artistic Milliner of Turkey.

How do many spell ‘show?’ S-U-C-C-E-S-S

By Devin Steele

With ATME-I 2001 wrapping up today, many exhibitors already are calling the show a success.

Perhaps low expectations coming in, based largely on modest activity during the show’s October run, figured into those exhibitors’ assessments. Or maybe even the procurement of solid leads or placed orders had something to do with their appraisals.

Either way, exhibitors and organizers are smiling as the final day arrives. Bob Ellis, CEO of co-sponsor Textile Hall Corporation and show director, noted that the three-day total of 8,925 visitors — counted only the first time they enter the facility — total more than 1,000, or 14 percent, better than the October leg.

Planners invited an exhibitor, John Huebner of Mor-Lite, Inc., to take the lectern during a morning press conference Thursday and express his views on the show from the perspective of his 10 X 10 booth, he said.

“This show has been great for us,” said Huebner, whose company supplies industrial lighting.

“By and large the people coming to our booth are either companies that are going through radical structural changes, focusing non a niche or a vision they have. Other types of companies stopping by are ones that have a technological advantage. In both cases, none are fearful of new technologies. They’re embracing change and they’re embracing technology.”

Huebner added that visitors to his booth are a reflection of an industry trend.

“I think there’s a shake-out coming — and I don’t pretend to be a bellwether for the textile industry — but it seems to me we’re boiling down to a downsized industry that is not weaker and more vulnerable, but a downsized industry that is stronger, more vibrant and more profitable,” he said. “Our visitors mirror that.”

On the floor, Craig Newsome, vice president and general manager of Babcock Textile Machinery, Inc., said he has been pleased with the turnout.

“The show has been very good for us,” he said. “We have seen a large customer base from Canada and the Southeast United States.”

Frances Phillips, general manager of Gessner industries/Winsor & Jerauld, concurred. “We’ve had some opportunities to write some quotes for orders.”

Mark Raiteri of Raitech/Atlas Electrical Devices Co., meanwhile, reported that his company has sold four of its QuickWash machines and two of its new QuickView machines.

Editorial

Week of April 24, 2001

End of an era?

IS THE American Textile Machinery Exhibition-International (ATME-I) singing its swan song in Greenville, SC, this week?

That’s the $64,000 question.

This weaving-related edition of the trade show opens today with a cloud of uncertainly hovering. Currently, the future status of the quadrennial show is undecided, as co-sponsors Textile Hall Corp. and the American Textile Machinery Association (ATMA) have yet to determine the format or venue for the event in 2004 and/or 2005.

According to sources, ATMA is making plans to consolidate the two-leg event into a single show and move it from Greenville, SC, its home for decades, to another location, reportedly Orlando, FL. Textile Hall, however, believes that more exhaustive study is required before the stakes are pulled up. Plus, Textile Hall is operating on the premise that a binding contract is in place that would keep the show in Greenville during its next cycle.

Truth be known, quite a rift has developed between the two longtime partners over the matter. And things have turned ugly — ugly in the form of legal counsel being summoned on both sides. With lawyers involved, it’s safe to assume that the marriage between ATMA and Textile Hall is on the rocks.

Because of the delicate nature of the situation, members at various levels of the involved parties refused to discuss the matter on the record. But we have been able to gather deep background information from insiders in each corner.

Compelling arguments were found on both sides of the issue.

WHY WOULD ATME-I even be considered for anywhere except the heart of "textile country?" The answer starts with the issue of consolidation. Both parties have built a near consensus that the show, which has been split in two since 1976, needs to be merged in order to accommodate the needs of the changing industry.

Industry attrition, along with a glut of trade shows, have both figured prominently into a decline in visitor attendance at ATME-I and business results falling short of expectations. With further dilution probable, consolidation seems to be the only answer.

Many textile manufacturers have bemoaned the fact that too many shows exist. And consolidating the show not only would reduce the number of exhibitions, but also would encourage stronger participation, particularly from international visitors and exhibitors.

From the standpoint of machinery manufacturers, the show must grow larger in order to attract more international visitors, thus filling a business void created by U.S. mill consolidation. It must be an event that serves the needs of the entire Western Hemisphere and become an expo so grand in nature, it holds its own against similar exhibitions in other parts of the world, suppliers argue. The threat of an organization such as CEMATEX filling a void by creating a more-global event here also looms large, they add.

SO, IF THE show is consolidated, can the Palmetto Expo Center handle such a bigger expo in four years? It’s too early to tell, given the shrinking nature of the industry, but indications are that the facility could not hold the event — not without an expansion or not without limiting exhibit space or adding temporary structures.

However, according to reports and studies done by Greenville-area organizations, expansion isn’t feasible or cost-effective, at least not in the near future. In fact, the issue has been caught up in local politics for a while now. And some exhibitors maintain that they won’t pay first-class money for "second-class," temporary space.

Then, there’s the question of Greenville itself. Can the city support a event of this magnitude, from the standpoint of accommodations, dining options, transit, etc.? That depends on who you ask. Some say it will never be more than a strong regional conference center, while others argue that the city is capable of hosting a world-class exhibition.

Holding the show in a large city would offer easier access by air for international visitors, according to one who supports such a move. Also, a big metropolitan area offers some of the amenities that would make the destination more attractive, he adds.

Another textile machinery maker says he is not "anti-Greenville" — shows there have been good for business, he points out. And if Greenville can host a show that is big enough to encourage more participation from a larger international audience, he is all for keeping the event there, he asserts.

ON THE other hand, Textile Hall Corporation, whose board consists largely of Southern textile manufacturers, has its own reasons for wanting to keep the show where it is. First and foremost is convenience, they say. A majority of U.S. mills are located within a short driving distance of Greenville, or are located there. That means it’s easy to send larger numbers of people to ATME-I and they don’t lose as much on-the-job time.

For that matter, we suspect, suppliers located in the region can invite visitors from other areas or countries to their U.S. facilities for more interpersonal visits during their trip.

Then, there is the cost aspect. A site such as Orlando, for instance, commands much more money to visit, not to mention the fact that it would require airline travel for many, argues a Textile Hall board member. A convention center in such a big city also requires a higher tariff for organizers, which would be passed along to cost-conscious exhibitors, he adds.

Plus, according to one observer, convention center personnel in some other cities, including Orlando, are unionized — and we’re all familiar with what kind of headaches that would bring to exhibitors who need, say, a phone jack added to their stand.

And what about distractions, some opponents of a move say? Visitors would be attending the show in Greenville for the sole purpose of conducting business — without the lure of theme parks, beaches or the like.

SO, THERE YOU have it. We’ve touched on the contentions of both sides. As we weigh the thought processes of both, we believe that consolidating the show is a no-brainer — but moving it would be a mistake. Perhaps proponents of holding the show in a large city have made a better big-picture, long-term assessment. But we strongly believe the interests of the industry are better served by keeping ATME-I in Greenville, at least for the foreseeable future. There must be a way to make it work.

We reached this conclusion by attempting to anticipate the possible repercussions of such a move. Should the exhibition leave the Upstate, the backlash from opponents could far outweigh the benefits. It’s even fathomable that a start-up show be created in the Greenville area by "locals." And wouldn’t that be a mess?

Frankly, the situation has gotten out of hand. Can the marriage between ATMA and Textile Hall be saved? Can the show be saved? We urge these important industry entities to come together, try to mend fences and reach an workable compromise. In this time of unprecedented change, we need strong unity — now more than ever.