Week of April 29, 2002

Lankford, GTMA to convene

Mickey D. Lankford, GTMA chairman and president of the Walton Fabrics Division of Avondale Mills, Inc., Monroe, GA, will hold the gavel during the group’s annual meeting this week.

Rep. Saxby Chambliss, U.S. House representative from Georgia’s 8th District, will provide the keynote address when members of GTMA, The Association of Georgia’s Textile, Carpet and Consumer Products Manufacturers, gather for the group’s 102nd annual meeting this week.

The event, held in conjunction with the Textile Education Foundation’s 59th annual meeting, will take place Thursday through Saturday at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort at Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.

Chambliss, chairman of the House Sub-committee on Terrorism and Homeland Security, will brief the group on timely topics.

A.W. “Bill” Dahlberg, chairman of energy company Mirant Corp., Atlanta, will present the featured address. He will provide insight into energy marketing, resources and products and services that affect Georgia businesses.

John Silvia, chief economist for Wachovia Corp., Charlotte, NC, will focus on the state of the economy and projections as to economic conditions that will affect the textile, apparel and carpet industries.

Van May, newly elected chairman of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, will also address the group.

“We are fortunate to have speakers exceptionally qualified to address today’s most pressing issues — homeland security and terrorism, energy, our markets and the economy,” said Mickey D. Lankford, GTMA chairman and president of the Walton Fabrics Division of Avondale Mills, Inc., Monroe, GA, who will preside.

Lankford is expected to be succeeded during the meeting by Thomas B. Gardner, senior vice president of bath manufacturing for Springs Industries, Griffin, GA.

The TEF’s annual meeting will feature John A. Boland III, GTMA’s executive-in-residence at Georgia Tech. J. Tom Watters Jr. will give the president’s report.


Week of April 29, 2002

Scholler: Industry, ATMA adjusting

By Devin Steele

CHARLOTTE, NC — The U.S. textile industry isn’t suffering just another downturn. It is adjusting to a major industrial transformation, a revolution of global nature, driven by technology and computerization.

So says Kurt Scholler, chairman of the American Textile Machinery Association (ATMA).

“The competitive structure of the industry is altered forever and we are trying to catch up with it, wouldn’t you agree?” Scholler, CEO of American Truetzschler, based here, asked members of the Carolinas Textile Club during their April meeting here recently.

Scholler presented his take on the problems facing the U.S. textile industry and how his association is reinventing itself and trying to help industry customers overcome their woes. But, he admitted, neither a crystal ball nor a magic formula exists — only historical precedents, current trends and “each other,” all of which could figure prominently into the future course the industry takes.

One thing is for sure, Scholler noted: “We cannot maintain a textile machinery and services business depending on the U.S. market alone, as the U.S. customer work force shrinks by 144 people each business day.”

In noting historical precedents, Scholler touched on ATMA’s “flexible strategy for survival,” from which lessons could be drawn for respective sectors of the industry, he said. He talked about the organization’s willingness throughout its history to parallel changes in the industry, helping its migration to the South from the Northeast.

Geographic shifts of major mill production required new approaches, and ATMA led the charge by moving the American Textile Machinery Exhibition-International (ATME-I) South in 1969, Scholler said.

He also cited the decision of ATMA’s New England-based predecessor to produce an exhibition in Atlanta in 1881. That event, the International Cotton Machinery Exhibition, sparked the industrial revolution in the South, he said.

In 2006, another cutting-edge event — a “Megatex” textile machinery exhibition, initiated by ATMA — will also take place in Atlanta, he said.

“For my company, for ATMA and for its members, this is a time of regeneration,” Scholler said.

Shifts, adjustments

In discussing world shifts, Scholler noted that the 1997 devaluation of Asian currencies and the United States’ “misguided” strong dollar policy have played dominate roles in the deterioration of domestic manufacturing.

“ATMA has committed to support the initiatives under way in Washington to address many public issues and to lend our voices to the political forces seeking restoration commitments from our government,” he said. “But what if Washington fails us, are there alternatives? We should design new strategies with or without Washington.”

With that in mind, ATMA has developed strategies aimed at countering this erosion and helping the U.S. machinery business aid the survival of its domestic customer base, he said.

As the first part of Scholler’s platform as chairman of ATMA, the association is re-creating and re-positioning ATME-I, starting with a consolidated show in Greenville, SC, in 2004 and the “Megatex” event, which will include ATME-I and other trade shows, in 2006.

Secondly, ATMA is adapting its membership criteria to market circumstances, opening its ranks to companies headquartered abroad and to companies, beyond mere manufacturers, that ally themselves with domestic textile producers, he said. “This, too, may have use to U.S. textile interests,” he said.

Thirdly, the association is re-inventing itself by forging new alliances with peer company associations as well as customer groups, with the goal of expanding marketing opportunities, he reported. For instance, ATMA supports the American Textile Manufacturers Institute and provides administrative support services to the much-broader American Textile Alliance, he said.

“ATMA works toward the survival of its members and the common good of the U.S. textile industry,” he said. “We must operate in world markets in order to serve our most valued market, the U.S. producers.”

Scholler added that he has little doubt of the survivability in the Western Hemisphere of American-based suppliers and mills “if we concentrate our forces in new modes.”

Finally, Scholler offered several “action items” needed for survival by the industry. Among others, he suggested that companies: expand their markets and improve their marketing methods; specialize; export; seek alliances vertically and horizontally, domestically and offshore; outsource; promote consolidation of collective resources in the industry; and refocus the world’s attention on “our turf, our leadership, our creativity,” using the “Megatex” show as an example.

In reiterating his push for exporting, Scholler said that several requirements are needed: 1) have a globally attractive, quality product; 2) target a significant market share, whatever or wherever the market; 3) acquire a solid financial base sufficient to research and develop new products; 4) offer a package of services before, during and after sale; and 5) stay close to the customer at all times.

“Adaptation and survival are the key issues in this global market,” he said. “Let us work together toward this end.”

The full text of Scholler’s speech can be accessed on this web site under the Scholler link or click here.

Cotton Inc.

Week of April 29, 2002

Cotton Inc. research pioneer set to retire

CARY, NC — To see the impact Cotton Incorporated senior chemist Dr. John Turner has had on the apparel industry, walk into almost any major department store and try to find a pair of men’s khakis that’s not treated for wrinkle resistance.

Turner himself attempted to recently, as he needed several pairs of untreated cotton pants for his constant quest to improve wrinkle resistance processing. And that task that wasn’t easy. Turner discovered first-hand that 100 percent cotton, wrinkle-free products have captured a huge share of the selling floor and the market for men’s casual pants.

“I had to go to several stores before I found what I needed,” Turner said.

The irony of the situation is that Turner, who has been with Cotton Incorporated as a researcher since 1971, was a pioneer in the development of this popular treatment. With his official retirement this week — Wednesday, May 1 — Turner’s pursuit of the perfect process might not be coming to a complete end, but it will certainly slow down.

“I’ll keep my hand in by doing some consulting, but I plan to spend most of my time on the tennis court,” Turner said.

Since the beginning of his career in the mid-1960s when the concept of “durable press” was considered realistic only for synthetic fabrics, Turner has seen many fashion fads come and go. After earning both B.S. and M.S. degrees in textile chemistry from Clemson University and a stint in the military, Turner went on to complete his Ph.D in chemistry from Duke University and take a job at Burlington Industries, where he worked on processes for poly/cotton blends.

But with the 1970s came the 100 percent polyester, double-knit craze, putting a damper on these efforts. “When I joined Cotton Incorporated, cotton consumption was perhaps at an all-time low in the apparel area. It fell to about a 30 percent market share. Our big challenge was to increase the interest in cotton,” Turner said.

His focus turned to wrinkle-resistant finishes for 60 percent cotton shirts.

Natural fibers would soon come back into favor, and cotton consumption began increasing by the late 1970s. Yet it would be several more years before the interest in wrinkle resistance for bottom-weight cotton fabrics would be revived. “The natural, crumpled look was the big style,” Turner remembered.

The button-down era of the mid-1980s saw a revival of dressier looks and the interest in wrinkle-resistant cotton pants.

It was at this point that Turner was not only instrumental in developing an important technological breakthrough, he showed he was more than just a clever chemist. According to Donald Lee Bailey, who was a student research assistant at Cotton Incorporated when Turner was hired and is now vice president of textile research and implementation, the real breakthrough came when Turner “developed an economical and practical way to apply the wrinkle-resistant resin treatment to finished garments. John has a very practical mind. He knows there’s more to his work than good chemistry, and he understands the importance of being cost efficient and the need for keeping an eye on the bottom line.”

This helped the demand for this finishing grow, with sales of wrinkle-resistant pants taking off in 1993, when several major manufacturers put their promotional weight behind these products.

Refinements would follow, including softening of the fabric hand and lowering the amount of formaldehyde used in the process.

“We’ve brought the amount of formaldehyde down from 2000 to 200 parts per million,” Turner said. “And we’re also looking at cross-linking agents that have been developed without formaldehyde, but some exhibit more health concerns than formaldehyde.

“There’s been some success with polycarboxylic acid. It’s safe, but the performance is not as good and it’s more expensive. It might be appropriate for certain markets, like children’s wear, and in other countries where regulations regarding formaldehyde are stricter.”

“One of John’s greatest strengths is taking technology that already exists and making it better,” said Lou Protonentis, who, as director of technical services for dyeing and finishing research at Cotton Inc., has supervised Turner’s research for three years.

“By taking traditional chemicals that most finishing plants would have on hand and making important but simple adjustments in certain times and temperatures, he has been able to increase the performance of the finished garment,” Protonentis said. “This is really the goal of much of the research we do at Cotton Incorporated: To improve products or processes with as little expensive modifications at the mill level as possible. That’s the source of the biggest paybacks."

Other successes

Turner’s past and present work is hardly limited to his important undertaking in wrinkle-resistant treatment for cotton garments. Dr. Preston Sasser, senior vice president and managing director of research at Cotton Incorporated, remembered his first collaboration with Turner in the late ’70s.

“John was in textile research and I was in agricultural research at the time. We had a problem with the spray paint farmers were using to mark seed cotton modules with the newly developed module system that would follow the path of the cotton from the field to textile mill,” Sasser recalled. “John was assigned the task of coming up with a formula for marking ink that would not bleed off in the rain, but could be easily removed from the fibers in processing.”

After some problems with the initial formula, which would eat away at the linings of the cans farmers used to dispense the ink, Turner received a patent for his development.

Also on the agricultural front, he improved the formulation for the EasiFlo® solution sprayed on cottonseed to prolong its shelf life. More recently, in the garment area, Turner has been working on non-resin treatments to improve the performance and durability of denim fabrics.

He’s also received a number of industry awards, including the AATCC Henry E. Millson Award for Invention in 1997. Turner is a two-time winner of the AATCC Intersectional Technical Program winner (1977 and 1987). In addition, he’s contributed to numerous trade journals.


Week of April 29, 2002

Ott: Thomaston wouldn’t let town be liquidated, too

Editor’s note: In this, part 5 of our coverage of the Multi-State Textile Summit at Gaston College in Dallas, NC, on March 22, excerpted remarks by A. William Ott, former president and CEO of now-defunct Thomaston Mills, Thomaston, GA, are published here. The comments of Ott and other panelists are so 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. Panelists are being spotlighted on a weekly basis.

William Ott

As CEO of Thomaston Mills I had to manage the liquidation of a company and see 1,400 people and one community look for jobs. From this experience, I can tell you that there is no such thing as a voluntary bankruptcy and there is no such thing as an orderly wind-down of operations.

However, in six months, we were able to sell 2.2 million square feet of manufacturing space to four separate buyers who will create 600 jobs in the next 18 months. We have one plant remaining to be sold and we expect to have approximately 400 jobs created when that is done. That will net 1,000 new jobs in the community.

With sheer determination and a well-crafted attack plan, a better tomorrow can be launched while liquidating the past.

A little background might be helpful. Thomaston is located about an hour-and-a-half south of Atlanta — population 9,500 people, with total county population of 29,000. Thomaston Mills was a committed domestic producer of sheets and related bedding products and also offered a line of apparel fabrics. Sales peaked at $280 million in 1998.

The company, along with the founding Hightower family, served as a backbone of this community for over 100 years. The growth of the company and the town were one. The company over the years built houses, roads, schools, churches, hospitals, water systems — the list goes on. But no matter how noble the motives of this company and the founding family, the banks forced the liquidation of its assets last year.

There’s no one factor that caused the failure of Thomaston Mills, but Thomaston Mills’ problems included a shift from local to global sourcing of textile products and the devaluation of foreign currencies, which leaves the U.S. dollar 30 percent overvalued. The net result is quite a big expense for a commodity product.

Also, we have a weakening U.S. economy. Hopefully, that’s rebounding. We have an industry that is dependent on borrowed money, including Thomaston.

Over the last three years, the market value of textile equipment has fallen 85 percent. ...

In spite of the factors mentioned, Thomaston was working very hard to recondition itself and return to profitability. The bankers had a different idea. They decided that the company was better off dead than alive and they cut off funding, triggering liquidation. While management was committed to saving the company, we also had to prepare for the worse in liquidation.

One very real fear at the outset was that as the company liquidated, the town would also begin to liquidate, and this was simply unacceptable. If we had to liquidate the company, we wanted the liquidation serve as a new beginning for the town. We had to objectively assess likely buyers, determine the quick-sale value of assets and assess multiple sales scenarios.

In terms of buyers, we felt it would be unlikely to find a single buyer in a short time frame. Additionally, multiple buyers would lessen the community’s dependence on a single player. Ideally, we wanted companies with a strong reputation that were not dependent upon bankers, as Thomaston was. In terms of our buildings and equipment, they ranged from state-of-the-art to obsolete.

We engaged a business broker, Equity Partners. They launched a 60-day “guerrilla-based” marketing plan, together using The Wall Street Journal, the Internet, mail and phone. From this process, we found three buyers who are putting 600 people back to work.

A few final thoughts. First, most states have disaster recovery plans for situations such as tornadoes and hurricanes because these things can be frequent, devastating and can cause long-term damage. The same factors are true about textile mill closings and, therefore, states should develop disaster response recovery plans to be prepared for the worst and be able to respond very quickly.

Second, the amount of damage cannot necessarily be measured solely in terms of initial loss. The time required to recover from the loss may be more important in the long term. Similar to a heart attack or a stroke victim, the amount of time to get to the hospital is a critical factor in the recovery of that patient.

I think states can play a vital role in terms of assistance, directing new business prospects to prospective areas and help communities plan and build the infrastructure required to attract new employers.

Third, I’ve heard people say, “well, it’s just textiles” or “it’s just business.” But this is very much a people process. Thomaston Mills for over 100 years was very proud of its ability to “take care of its own.” Because of the circumstances of the liquidation, the company was no longer able to take care of itself, much less its employees and people became lost in the process. Government can play a vital role in filling that gap, lending a helping hand until new industry can be developed.

Certainly from our experience here at Thomaston, our notification of closure was issued on a Thursday morning about 10 o’clock. We had six people from the state Department of Labor in our offices by 3 o’clock and that Saturday, two days later, we had a job fair for employees of Thomaston Mills. And that quick response was absolute and continual and it has made a very big difference in getting the results that we have and I’m very thankful for that.

India delegation

Week of April 29, 2002

India delegation, seeking goods, to visit

GREENSBORO, NC — The U.S. Commercial Service, U. S. Department of Commerce, through its offices in North and South Carolina and New Delhi, India, will host a delegation of about 25 buyers from India at the O’Henry Hotel here next month.

The delegation, seeking textile machinery and textiles, will be guests at a reception Monday night, May 20, and will meet with potential business partners by appointment on Tuesday, May 21. A luncheon program on e-business and global marketing is planned, as well.

The delegation will consist of representatives of the India Textile Association and Indian companies interested in buying textile machinery, raw cotton, upholstery fabric and industrial wastewater treatment equipment.

Appointments are being scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Organizers said they anticipate that sales related to this delegation will exceed $25 million.

The U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce assists exporters to enter and develop global markets with a range of cost-effective basic and specialized services. With staff in U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world and in more than 100 U.S. cities, the Commercial Service is strategically located to represent U.S. commercial interests abroad and to provide market access and development to U.S. exporters.

For more information or to register, call (336) 333-5345.


Week of April 29, 2002

Bobbin Americas 2002 trade show postponed

ATLANTA, GA — Bobbin Americas, originally scheduled for Sept. 25-27 here, has been postponed “pending a possible repositioning to best align the show with evolving apparel industry needs,” according to the show organizer VNU Expositions.

“Bobbin Americas was originally conceived as an event for the Western Hemisphere apparel industry, with emphasis on both equipment and technology,” said Joe Randall, VNU Expo Group President for Retail Design, Apparel, Healthcare, & Building. “But since the show’s founding, the industry has undergone many changes, including an accelerated pace of production outsourcing and even greater reliance on new technologies to help manage global operations.

“As we stepped back to examine how Bobbin Americas could best serve an evolving industry, we felt it was the opportune time to reevaluate the show’s format, timing and deliverables — and we are continuing to seek input to that end.”

New lobbying alliance building political base

The lobbying alliance forged between Roger Milliken, Bruce Raynor and George Shuster has been named the American Textile Trade Action Coalition (ATTAC) and is already working to build support from Washington lawmakers, according to reports.

The group recently met with House and Senate selected lawmakers from textile-producing states.

As reported earlier, the coalition was created as a means of “saving jobs” in the textile, apparel and related sector through affecting trade policy. The group was founded by Milliken, chairman and CEO of Milliken & Co; Raynor, president of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE); and Shuster, chairman and CEO of Cranston Print Works.

CMI Industries plans to sell two plants

GREENSBORO, NC — Bankrupt CMI Industries has agreed to sell its Elastic Fabrics of America plant here to a group of investors.

The investors plan to pay $21.6 million for the plant, which makes stretch fabrics for apparel. They investors plan to keep the 260-employee facility operating.

CMI also has agreed to sell a second Elastic Fabrics of America plant to Narroflex of Canada for $2.8 million.

BASF to increase BCF yarn prices

DALTON, GA — BASF will increase prices for residential bulked continuous filament (BCF) nylon carpet yarns for all orders for shipments on or after May 6, according to Mike Jones, business director, Carpet Products.

The price increase of about 12 percent is necessary due to the rising costs of raw materials used to make synthetic yarns, he said. BASF has not increased prices for residential nylon carpet products since 1999.


Week of April 29, 2002

Chair: Members of trade group enjoy strong ROI

Editor’s note: Following is a Q&A with Mickey D. Lankford, who has served as president of GTMA: The Association of Georgia’s Textile, Carpet and Consumer Products Manufacturers, during the past year. Lankford, president of the Walton Fabrics Division of Avondale Mills, Monroe, GA, will turn over the reins this week during the group’s annual meeting in Ponte Vedra, FL. In reflecting on his term, Lankford answered questions submitted to him by STN.

STN: What were your goals when you became chairman and how did you go about meeting them?

Lankford: My principal goal as chairman was to ensure that GTMA’s expertise in the legislative and regulatory arenas were put to their best use in providing bottom-line results for our member companies during these extremely challenging times. (GTMA President) Roy Bowen and I developed a budget that enabled GTMA to achieve this goal.

STN: As other states, Georgia is experiencing its share of problems. According to statistics, the state lost more jobs than any other state last year. The Columbus area is among the hardest hit, with textile layoffs numbering at least 1,300 in the area during the past year. Please touch on this facts and figures. Also, how is GTMA working to help displaced members and solving the problems that have plagued many companies?

Lankford: Georgia lost approximately 89,000 jobs during 2001, including 7,000 in the textile industry. GTMA has worked with the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism to bring new textile investment into the state, with good results.

During the course of the last year, Standard Textiles, a privately owned and successful company headquartered in Ohio, commenced operations in Augusta and Thomaston; Westex, a Chicago-based company, began operating a former Spartan Mills operation in Statesboro; and Jim Tex, a South Carolina textile manufacturer, reopened and began operating a former Mayfair Mills plant in Lincolnton. GTMA also developed information for an investor group that plans to purchase Marubeni Denim operation in Columbus, preserving several hundred jobs.

GTMA has also worked with the Georgia Department of Labor to ensure that dislocated workers receive all state and federal benefits to which they are entitled and with the Department of Technical and Adult Education to ensure that job re-training is available for these employees.

STN: With so many Georgians filing unemployment claims, what has the legislature done to address this issue? What effect has this had on manufacturers?

Lankford: The Georgia General Assembly has provided funding to the Georgia Department of Labor and to the Department of Technical and Adult Education to enable these agencies to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of dislocated workers. The Department of Labor, through its Rapid Response Unit, provides unemployment insurance claims processing at the plant site, holds job fairs for dislocated workers and performs skills assessments to determine employability in other occupations.

The Department of Technical and Adult Education, through its system of technical colleges, provides skills enhancement and other training for dislocated workers.

STN: Have some of GTMA’s causes been affected by the state’s financial troubles?

Lankford: Georgia is more fortunate than the other southeastern states in terms of its economy and state finances. The state has a “rainy day” reserve which should cushion the more than $500 million dollar decline in revenues during the current fiscal year. The effect of the downturn in the economy on the state budget has had no impact on GTMA’s efforts within state government on behalf of its membership.

STN: What were some of the most devastating headlines in your state during the past year?

Lankford: The most disappointing headlines were those reporting on textile plant closings and the downturn in the economy, but the most devastating related to the tragedy of September 11.

STN: Has this contraction affected GTMA’s membership numbers? How do those figures compare to last year’s at this time?

Lankford: Because GTMA member companies place a high degree of value on the benefits of membership, there has been no erosion during the last year in our active membership roster. In fact, active membership has increased by a couple of companies and we expect further increases in membership as a result of interest in our reactivated GTMA Workers’ Compensation Self-Insurance Fund.

While active membership has held up, the number of associate members has declined, as these service/supply companies try to reduce expenses during this difficult time.

STN: What are some of the legislative/regulatory issues or concerns GTMA dealt with this year?

Lankford: GTMA’s ongoing priority is to reduce costs for member companies. And the association was successful in doing so this year by virtue of its involvement before the Public Service Commission and in the General Assembly. An intervenor in the 2001 Georgia Power Company rate case, GTMA worked with Georgia Power Company and the Public Service Commission to bring about a decision that will provide GTMA members served by Georgia Power Company nearly $20 million dollars in savings over the next three years.

At the General Assembly, GTMA worked to ensure that the public’s concerns with natural gas deregulation were not addressed by shifting $50 million dollars in costs from firm consumers to interruptible consumers of natural gas.

Also at the General Assembly, GTMA was instrumental in securing passage of legislation that extended the current moratorium on the collection of unemployment insurance taxes until the end of 2003 and in having included in the budget more than $1 million dollars to fund the research conducting under the auspices of the Consortium on Competitiveness for the Apparel, Carpet and Textile Industries (CCACTI).

During the past year GTMA has also worked with state and federal environmental protection agencies to implement new environmental rules and regulations in a cost-effective and responsible manner.

STN: What are the bright spots in the textile/apparel/carpet industry in Georgia?

Lankford: Georgia’s textile industry is quickly evolving to become a supplier of value-added textile products to the world market. The plants in Georgia are state-of-the-art and the work force is highly skilled. I believe that the industry in Georgia is a low-cost/highest-quality manufacturer that can prosper in today’s global marketplace.

The carpet industry is recognized throughout the U.S. for its high-quality products and I believe that continuing investment by the industry will ensure its dominance for years to come. Both the textile and carpet industries will succeed by virtue of forward-thinking management that focuses on exceeding the expectations of its customers, motivating and maintaining a skilled work force and investing in technology for the future.

STN: What “exciting” is going on within the organization?

Lankford: On April 1, GTMA reactivated its Workers’ Compensation Self-Insurance Fund. GTMA’s smaller and medium-sized companies will realize significant savings in workers compensation insurance cost by virtue of their being participants in the fund.

STN: What are a company’s benefits of GTMA membership?

Lankford: GTMA guarantees its members that the association will return substantially more in value than the member invests in GTMA through dues. Just during this past year, the savings achieved by GTMA for each of its members have been significant through its involvement in the Georgia Power rate case and before the General Assembly.

GTMA also maintains excellent relationships with all the departments of state government and intervenes on issues of significance to the industry or to individual members if need be to bring about a desired result. The association also provides an excellent forum for information exchange among member companies in such areas as tax policy, environmental regulations, education and training, human resources matters and fiber procurement.

In addition, GTMA’s Research Advisory Committee oversees the research conducted under the auspices of the Consortium on Competitiveness for the Apparel, Carpet and Textile Industries (CCACTI). CCACTI harnesses the resources of the University System of Georgia, and with in excess of $1 million in state funding, addresses competitiveness needs of the industry.

There is also benefit to members that comes from being a part of an organization that is highly regarded within state government as being politically active and astute.

STN: What are the biggest challenges facing the textile/apparel/carpet industry, particularly in Georgia, in the coming years?

Lankford: The challenges are: 1) providing low-cost but high-quality manufacturing in this highly competitive global economy; 2) attracting and maintaining a skilled work force; 3) securing equitable trade agreements; and 4) identifying and making quick responses to market trends in the constantly shifting market.

STN: How has GTMA responded to these challenges?

Lankford: GTMA has responded by successfully intervening before the Public Service Commission, the state General Assembly and regulatory agencies. Working with the Department of Technical and Adult Education, GTMA has helped launch the Textile Academy within several of our technical colleges to provide skilled training at our plants to workers without cost to the company or employees.

This training further enhances the skill level and competence of our work force. GTMA continues to provide information to our national policy makers, which hopefully will help them see the necessity of fair and equitable trade agreements for our industry. GTMA continues to work with the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and Southern Polytechnic to ensure that their textile programs meet the needs of our industry.

STN: Why is serving in a leadership role such as this important to you?

Lankford: It has been my experience that giving time and talents to any worthwhile endeavor always proves to be a wise investment, and I appreciate GTMA providing me the opportunity to serve as chairman for the 2001-2002 term. GTMA has consistently provided leadership to our industry that has been focused on working to see that our industry prospers and is equipped to meet the many challenges that we face in doing so.

I have been grateful for these efforts and felt that I would like to play an active role in seeing that GTMA continues to provide such leadership. Our industry benefits from being united, and GTMA provides us an excellent opportunity for the networking that helps make each individual member company more informed and thus better able to respond to today’s challenges.

STN: Please describe the working relationship you have with your officers and board and the GTMA staff?

Lankford: GTMA is fortunate to have such a highly skilled and professional staff that is committed to the success of its member companies. It has been my pleasure to work with the staff, and I feel that we have had a great working relationship. Drawn by a common goal, the GTMA officers, board members and committee members, along with the GTMA staff, have made this year’s efforts a most enjoyable endeavor for me.

STN: How long have you been a member of GTMA?

Lankford: Avondale Mills-Walton Fabrics Division has been a member of GTMA since the beginning of the association. I personally have been involved with the association since the late 1970s.

STN: How has GTMA helped you grow professionally?

Lankford: GTMA has provided me the opportunity to work with outstanding leaders from other companies in the industry and learn from their insights and examples. My work with GTMA has also given me a greater awareness of the importance of legislative and regulatory issues to the success of our industry, and most importantly serving within the leadership of GTMA has availed me the opportunity to give something back to an industry that has provided me a place to work and grow, both personally and professionally.

STN: Please discuss the theme you picked for this year’s annual meeting — “Meeting the Challenges.”

Lankford: I chose the theme “Meeting the Challenges” for the year at the 2001 annual meeting, knowing that our industry was facing difficult circumstances in the coming year. Little did I know the extent of how challenging those circumstances would be, not only for our industry, but for our state and nation as well.

In spite of those daunting challenges I feel that our nation, state and industry have responded with the necessary leadership, dedication and pure determination to be successful in meeting many of the challenges with which we were confronted.

I am proud to be an American, a Georgian and a member of an industry where fortitude and perseverance in a common, united front find us working through most difficult times to brighter, more positive times and circumstances. I am positive that we will prevail.

STN: What’s unique about this year’s annual meeting and what do you hope members will take away from the event?

Lankford: GTMA has identified relevant and timely issues that are of interest and concern to our members and has provided speakers who will enlighten and challenge us in these areas. We are fortunate to have speakers exceptionally qualified to address today’s most pressing issues — homeland security and terrorism, energy, our markets and the economy.

Congressman Saxby Chambliss, chairman of the House Sub-committee on Terrorism and Homeland Security; Mr. Bill Dahlberg, chairman of Mirant Corporation, one of the nation’s leading energy companies; Mr. Warren Shoulberg, editor of HFN, the nation’s premier home furnishings publication; and Mr. John Silvia, chief economist of Wachovia Corporation, will address our meeting, as will Mr. Van May, newly elected chairman of ATMI.

STN: Shifting gears, as a child, did you envision yourself doing the type of work you do now?

Lankford: As a child I saw the cotton raised that went into textiles. I was familiar with the farming of cotton, but had never been in a textile mill and would have never imagined myself employed in the textile industry.

STN: Tell us a little bit about your childhood, parents, raising, etc. and how all of this pointed you in the direction to get where you are today.

Lankford: I had a warm and loving family and, as a child, felt their love and support. By example, my parents instilled in me the responsibility of working hard and giving my best. My parents were actively involved in our little community and our local Baptist church.

I learned from them that church was not just a Sunday occurrence, but that their Christian faith was the foundation of who they were and how they lived. From them, I learned to have a positive attitude and to work hard not only for myself, but to the benefit of those around me. I feel that these principles have served me well in my career.

STN: Who have been some of your biggest influences and why?

Lankford: As a child my mother set a strong example for me — loving life and living a life based on Christian values.

As an adult, my wife and I have shared common values and goals. Having a Christian partner who encourages and supports me has definitely influenced me, not only in my personal life, but in my professional life as well.

As a professional and friend, G. Stephen Felker has had a great influence on me, always showing interest and providing me encouragement and opportunities to perform with greater responsibilities within our company and industry. I am grateful for his professional advice and my family and I have a deep affection for him as a personal friend.

STN: At what times are you happiest?

Lankford: Personally, I am happiest when I am sharing time with my family and, professionally, when business is good and our associates enjoy full employment.

STN: Earlier, you touched on the attacks on America, which occurred during your tenure. Where were you that September 11 morning and what were you doing when this occurred? How have those events affected you personally? Would you say they have “changed” you?

Lankford: I was in New York City on September 11, 2001, preparing to leave our company’s office to meet with customers when our receptionist called us over to the window. She had just seen the first plane hit the World Trade Center tower. As we stood looking out at the first plane’s hit, the second plane crashed into the second tower.

It is difficult to put into words the feelings that I had at the time because the incident was so horrendous and unexpected that the reality of it was hard to grasp. The reaction of people on the street realizing that they may have lost a loved one in the incident was very emotional for me, and later as the streets became quiet and empty I had a feeling of being displaced in an unreal place and time.

I think that all of us have been affected personally by this tragedy, and I know that being there and witnessing firsthand this terrible tragedy has made a deep impression on me. Suddenly your priorities become clear and you realize how important family, home and security are to you.

The time has come that we cannot take our safety and well-being for granted. I know that each day of life is a precious gift and I know that I must live each day in a way that shows my appreciation to God for His many blessings.

The days following the events of September 11th have given me a greater appreciation and respect for the leaders of our country and the most difficult responsibilities that they have, and I realize that praying for them is a necessity.


Week of April 29, 2002

Guilford closing two more plants

GREENSBORO, NC — Guilford Mills, Inc., with the aid of two more plant closings, said it could emerge from bankruptcy court protection as early as this summer.

The warp knitter announced Monday that it is closing plants in Lumberton, NC, and in Altamira, Mexico, eliminating 280 jobs in the process, as it exits a portion of its circular knit apparel fabric business.

Guilford said it has received approval from a bankruptcy court for a $30 million debtor-in-possession credit facility from Wachovia Corp.

“This is a very important vote of confidence,” said John A. Emrich, Guilford president and CEO. “Together with the incredible support we’ve received from our lenders, customers, vendors and associates, it gives us very positive momentum toward our reorganization goals.”

Closing those plants will allow the company to focus on its core operations, which include automotive, technical textiles and American Textil, Guilford said.

The Lumberton plant employs 100 people. The Altamira plant, with 180 employees, began operations 11 months ago and is one of two facilities the company owns in Mexico. American Textil, located in Mexico City, produces sportswear and lining fabrics.

“While we saw that the Altamira operation had long-term growth potential, we needed to reassess our commitment there in light of the current economic environment,” Emrich said.

Factors include the strength of the Mexican peso; trade legislation such as the Caribbean Basin Initiative; and the continued capital investment that would be required there, he added.

Fiscal notes

Week of April 29, 2002

Losing streak over: Cone back in black

GREENSBORO, NC — Cone Mills turned its first profit in four years with earnings of $1.4 million, or 2 cents per share, in the first quarter.

Sales, however, were down 20 percent to $105.8 million from year-ago levels as denim sales slumped 22.6 percent to $82.1 million.

For the same period last year, the company lost $2.9 million, or 15 cents a share.

“All operations were profitable, all operations exceeded last year’s results and all operations exceeded expectations,” said John L. Bakane, president and CEO. “During the past three years we have cleaned up both our balance sheet and our unprofitable operations.”

In February, Cone’s denim plants returned to operating at full capacity, he reported. “We are off to a good start and we expect an upward progression in earnings improvement as we move through the second and third quarters of the year,” Bakane said. “However, we must improve long-term profitability.”

To do this, Cone must reduce overall cost structure by expanding denim capacity in Mexico, he added.

Russell Corp. exceeds analysts’ expectations

ATLANTA — Russell Corporation earned $2.6 million in the first quarter on sales of $215.8 million.

The company’s 8 cents per share profit was at the upper-end of the company’s guidance and slightly ahead of the revised First Call consensus estimate of 7 cents. For the same period last year, the apparel maker made $2.2 million, or 7 cents, including restructuring charges.

Chairman and CEO Jack Ward said the company is raising its full-year guidance for projected earnings, excluding extraordinary charges, to $1.50 to $1.60 per share.

Restructuring charges hit VF where it hurts

GREENSBORO, NC — Weighed down by restructuring charges and an accounting change, VF Corp. posted a loss of $448.3 million, or $4.11 cents per share, in the first quarter.

The apparel company took an accounting charge of $527.3, or $4.80 a share, related to the amortization of goodwill. Without the write-off and one-time charges, the company would have posted a profit of $79 million, or 69 cents a share. Sales dropped to $1.27 billion from $1.42 billion for the same period a year ago.

Sara Lee announces drops in apparel unit

CHICAGO — Third-quarter sales in the Intimates and Underwear segment of Sara Lee Corp. fell 16 percent, with operating income in the unit dropping 4 percent.

Sales were $1.5 billion from $1.8 billion in the same period last year, while operating income was $162 million from $169 million.

Higher unit volumes and the benefits of cost savings related to restructuring led to increased margins in the unit.

Losses continue at Delta Woodside

GREENVILLE, SC — Delta Woodside Industries, Inc. lost $2.5 million, or 42 cents per share, in the third quarter after posting a loss of $2.2 million loss, or 37 cents, in the same period last year. Sales fell to $42.2 million from $53 million.

Delta Apparel sees sales hit record

DULUTH, GA — Delta Apparel, Inc. made $1.9 million, or 87 cents per share, on record sales of $32.9 million in the third quarter.

Sales increased 17.5 percent during the quarter, although earnings figures represent a 5.7 percent drop from $2.2 million.

Robert W. Humphreys, president and CEO, also announced that this month the company expects to complete the acquisition of a textile facility in Fayette, AL, where fabric will be knitted, dyed, finished and cut for garments to be assembled in Honduras and Mexico.

Wellman, Inc. charges put company in red

SHREWSBURY, NJ — Polyester maker Wellman, Inc. reported a first-quarter loss of $211.6 million, or $6.61 per diluted share, while having to figure in a $197 million loss related to closed businesses.

Sales slipped to $239.4 million from $269.3 million. The company made $3.9 million, or 12 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2001.

Without losses related to the discontinuing of a partially oriented yarn business in Fayetteville, NC, and a polyester staple fibers business in Marion, SC, earnings would have been $5.6 million, or 18 cents per share.

Growing Apparel Sourcing Show

Week of April 29, 2002

Growing Apparel Sourcing Show set for 11th run in Guatemala

The 11th annual Apparel Sourcing Show will take place May 15-17 at the Grand Tikal Futura Hotel & Convention Center (formerly the Hyatt Regency) in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

Since 1991, the event has been the only international show in the Caribbean region targeted to the apparel and textile industry. The show includes a full range of apparel machinery and service suppliers on the exhibit floor and specialized conferences in English and Spanish, including presentations this year by Will Duncan of TC[2] and Mary O’Rourke, managing director of the Jassin-O’Rourke Group.

One of the most popular and productive activities during the Apparel Sourcing Show is the unique Matchmaking Meeting Program, which offers the opportunity for Caribbean-region apparel manufacturers to meet face-to-face with U.S. and Canadian customers who are looking for alternative manufacturing or sourcing programs.

Last year’s event was the largest in the show’s history, with an attendance of more than 3,400 apparel executives and 202 companies exhibiting machinery, goods and services.

“Sourcing came as a need for more efficiency and economy on the retail side,” said Joshua Ramazzini, president of the this year’s show. “The Apparel Sourcing Show has made it easier to establish the new strategic partnerships essential in meeting those needs.”

Accompanying conferences will kick off on May 15 with a panel discussion on “Free Trade Agreements between the U.S. and Central America — the Future of Textiles & Apparel.” The discussion will be led by industry expert Natalie Hanson, senior analyst, International Development Systems, Inc., and invited panelists from The Limited, AMC and government representatives from the USTR office.

The panels will continue on May 16, covering the topic “Financial Alternatives for Full Package Suppliers” with industry experts Vaughn Jordan, director, Mexico & CBI, Cotton USA Sourcing CBI Program; Eva Lamas, vice president, Latin America, Citibank Corp.; Peter Mulroy, vice president and international manager, SunTrust Bank; and Carlos Arias, president, VESTEX, Guatemala Apparel and Textile Commission.

A luncheon speech May 17 on “Workplace Code of Conduct and its Effects on the Free Trade Agreements” will be presented by Valencia Forastieri, an international consultant in Health and Occupational Safety for the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Addressing the latest developments in technology and production techniques, the Textile Clothing Technology Corporation TC[2] will present an extensive three-day series of seminars on time study, mechanics’ training, quality analysis, modular manufacturing and product costing fundamentals.

The Guatemala Apparel and Textile Commission, VESTEX, the show sponsor, also announced plans to open a trade promotion office in New York City by the end of June. The office will serve as a home base on Seventh Avenue for the group’s 245 members.

Guatemala has 227 apparel factories, 60 accessories makers and 18 textile mills, employing some 130,000 workers. About 65 percent of the companies are foreign owned, primarily Korean investors.

Trade mission

In related news, promoting change that meets the demands of today’s marketplace was the goal of a recent trade mission by VESTEX at the Marriott Marquis in New York City.

The event, termed a success by both sponsors and participants, simulated one of the most popular and effective features of the annual Apparel Sourcing Show — the Matchmaking service, in which U.S. apparel and retail representatives are placed with appropriate Guatemalan manufacturers, based on design and production needs.

During the afternoon of the trade mission, the Guatemalan companies displayed examples of their products and were available for private discussions of production capabilities.

“The Guatemalan apparel industry has changed extensively over recent years to meet the demands of this dynamic marketplace,” Arias said. “Just a few years ago we were concerned with making the transition to full package, but we now must also stress our ability to meet quick-response demands, with high-quality, fashion-oriented goods and the latest need of our customers —the flexibility to handle small volumes.”

Greg Dorf, director of sales and marketing for Kellwood Activewear, said he found the trade mission very effective, “especially the visits with the manufacturers, which gave us all opportunity to learn about Guatemala and what is being done to make its companies as viable as possible in today’s market.”

Major U.S. companies attending the Trade Mission forum included: Beyond Basic Kids, Inc., By Design Apparel, Fishman & Tobin, Fizzaro Collection, General Sportswear, Kellwood Activewear, Kids Headquarters, Lerner New York, Li & Fung USA, Liz Claiborne, Inc., Saks, Inc., The Leslie Fay Company and Tommy Hilfiger.

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