TECH-CESS:

Week of May 6, 2002

Reviews of technical textiles trade show mostly positive

Uretek/Coated Fabrics Group of New Haven, CT, exhibits fabrics it coated with polyurethane. Behind those fabrics at Techtextil North America are Peter Kane (L) of Uretek and Loic Pollet of Pennel Industries, France.
Photo by Devin Steele

By John W. McCurry

PART 1

ATLANTA — While the second edition of Techtextil North America, held at the Cobb Galleria Centre here last month, had about the same number of exhibitors and attendees as its first run in 2000, the three-day show received mostly positive reviews.

Organized by German trade show specialist Messe Frankfurt, the biennial display of high-tech textiles is one of four held around the globe. The show originated in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1986 and has since also expanded to Shanghai and Sao Paulo.

More than 4,000 people from 32 countries attended the show.

The Cobb Galleria Centre venue has served the exhibition well and will continue to be the home of TTNA. This year’s edition encompassed 30 percent more floor space with 291 exhibitors. The facility was recently expanded and there is room for the show to grow for its third run, slated for March 31-April 2, 2004.

As with most textile trade shows, organizers prefer to consider the “quality” of visitors rather than numbers.

“Lots of companies met a lot of new potential customers,” said Michael Janecke, director of Techtextil shows worldwide. “Visitors came to Atlanta looking for technical solutions. More companies are diversifying into the huge technical textile market. For some, it’s a chance to survive. There are always new technical textile products coming to market. It’s a fascinating field.”

As was the case in the inaugural TTNA in 2000, several countries fielded pavilions. The largest was Germany with 30 firms, followed by France, Taiwan and Belgium.

Claudia Sam, a spokeswoman for GesamtTextil, the German Central Confederation of the Textile Industry, described TTNA as “very good.” She said the U.S. market for technical textiles is good, but can be difficult.

“Our companies had a productive week, presenting their image, making contacts and meeting potential customers,” she said. “In Germany, technical textiles offer an opportunity for young people to find jobs. There’s a need for engineers.”

Exhibitors

Following is a look at selected companies and new products making news at TTNA.

Conwed Plastics. Conwed Plastics, Minneapolis, MN, debuted a line of specialty netting products. Rebound elastomeric netting is engineered to achieve and precisely control stretch and recovery properties.

Conwed said the netting can be customized with various force and mesh designs to meet specific customer needs. Conwed is promoting the product’s breathability, improved performance in high-extension applications, energy recovery and two-dimensional integrity.

Crane Nonwovens. The Pittsfield, MA-based company introduced Craneglas 500, a line of wet-laid nonwoven media incorporating belCoTex silica fibers. Crane said the product offers superior thermal resistance to organic solvents, hot acids and water.

Craneglas 500 is also being used in composite structures, laminates, thermal and acoustical insulation, gasketing and fire barriers.

Crane is producing Craneglas 500 nonwovens for the North American market under exclusive agreement with belChem Fiber Materials, Freiberg, Germany.

Dow Chemical Company. The company’s Engineered Films & Laminates business expanded its range of Covelle HF weldable films with a new grade that incorporates adhesive functionality.

The new Covelle 4200 HF weldable film can be used in applications requiring high-temperature performance or washability. It can also be made available in a laminate form including a release liner useful for certain industrial processes requiring film carriers.

Glenro. A Paterson, NJ-based firm, Glenro is eagerly promoting its new flatbed laminating machine, according to Jim Alimena, vice president, marketing. These machines use dry adhesives and a combo of heat and pressure for clean, high-performance bonding at fast line speeds.

Glenro is also touting its Silcurve and Conductaplane heating modules used in its laminating machines to provide even heat for uniform bonding.

W.L. Gore & Associates. The firm offered information on the company’s high-tenacity PTFE fiber, which has applications including scrim for needle felts in hot gas filtration, fabric for liquid filtration, fabric for architectural structures and aerospace. Gore began selling the fiber in staple form at the end of last year.

Guilford Mills. The Greensboro, NC, knitter, currently under Chapter 11 court protection, is pinning part of its future on its Guilford Technical Textiles (GTT) division formed in 1999. GTT debuted a line of ultra-lite knit loop fabrics at TTNA. The polyester stretch loop fabric aims at medical and sports medicine fabric markets.

Milliken & Co. This diversified company has manufacturing operations covering virtually every textile process and product. The Spartanburg-based firm debuted a new exhibition stand at TTNA that stressed manufacturing solutions, rather than products.

The Spinnkock Group. A manufacturer of technical yarns based in Steinfurt, Germany, The Spinnkock Group made its second appearance at TTNA. The company describes itself as “a solution provider” emphasizing quality and customer service.

Spinnkock presented several new products, including Protex M, used in protective apparel such as welding suits. The company also introduced its Trevira “Bioactive” inherently-antimicrobial polyester ring-spun yarn.

SSM. SSM, a Spring City, TN, firm formed in 1982 to produce highly engineered knit fabric for U.S. military applications, also was on hand at TTNA. Today, the company also makes protective fabrics for astronauts, race car drivers and fire/rescue personnel. Fibers used range from DuPont’s Nomex and Kevlar to wool and cotton.

Stork Textile Printing Group. The company debuted several rotary screen systems and screens that the company said offer enhancements in hotmelt laminating, impregnation, coating and printing.

Stork’s new hotmelt system comes with nickel construction and withstands temperatures of 250C. The screen unit applies a dot coating of hot melt. The dot coating can be changed by using a different screen type.

Stork’s CFT (coating and finishing technology) coating and finishing system boasts low energy and chemical consumption, according to the company. Substrates may be led through the unit without tension making it suitable for processing delicate and sensitive fabrics, knits and nonwovens.

Debate

Week of May 6, 2002

Trade debate heating up

WASHINGTON — Debate over trade legislation that could greatly affect the domestic textile industry heated up in the Senate last week.

Health care aid for employees displaced by trade have Democrats and Republicans in a standoff over a package that includes presidential trade-negotiating authority, or fast track.

Unable to gain a compromise, Democrats Wednesday offered a substitute amendment to the legislation (H.R. 3009) that includes a 73 percent health insurance subsidy for those displaced workers. Republicans contend they want to help laid-off employees, but they began their bargaining at a 60 percent subsidy of premiums.

Both parties agree that health insurance premiums should be subsidized by the government, with Democrats suggesting that employer-sponsored health-care plans foot the bill and Republicans proposing that premiums be paid for by an individual tax credit.

The health care provision is part of the trade adjustment assistance (TAA) component of the trade package, which also includes extending trade benefits to the Andean region. Extending trade preferences to Andean countries Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru is generally opposed by U.S. textile lobbyists.

With no compromise on displaced worker aid reached Wednesday, the Senate later in the day voted 77-21 to move to debating the Andean bill.

Fast track, also called trade promotion authority (TPA), allows the president to negotiate trade legislation, with Congress being able to vote either up or down on the measure.

TPA has divided many in the textile/apparel/retailing sectors, especially since its one-point passage in the House in December.

The cost of the health programs concerns Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS), he said, adding that he also opposes Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle’s bundling three other trade bills with the TPA measure.

Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings (D-SC), concerned with the textile industry’s losing more jobs, opposes the entire package.

Referring to the TAA provisions, he was quoted as saying, “At least we’re admitting that we’re not going to win jobs. We’re going to lose jobs.”

The trade bill is expected to be tied up in the Senate much of this month.

DuPont unit shedding 2,000 jobs

Week of May 6, 2002

Cutbacks to come in textile business

WILMINGTON, DE — DuPont Textiles & Interiors (DTI) said Monday it plans to cut 2,000 jobs worldwide, or 10 percent of its work force.

Two-thirds of the reductions are in U.S. facilities, with most of the balance in Europe, the company said.

DTI said it will shut down its Terathane® PTMEG manufacturing unit in Niagara Falls, NY, affecting 172 people; and less competitive portions of its spandex operation in Waynesboro, VA, putting about 200 people out of work. Terathane is an ingredient used to make spandex.

According to local reports, the company also will cut about 200 jobs in Chattanooga, TN, where nylon for apparel and tire yarn is made; 230 jobs in Lugoff, SC, where nylon for apparel and carpets is manufactured; and an unnamed number of jobs in Orange and Victoria, TX; Wilmington and Seaford, DE; and Athens, GA.

“These are difficult but necessary actions to position DTI for success in a highly competitive and rapidly consolidating industry,” said Richard R. Goodmanson, DuPont executive vice president and chief operating officer, who is leading DTI.

Parent company DuPont said in February that it planned to create DTI as a wholly owned subsidiary and separate it from the company by the end of next year, market conditions permitting. The company is evaluating a range of separation options, including an initial public offering.

DTI, with annual sales of about $6.5 million, includes the nylon fibers, polyester fibers, Lycra® brand fiber and spandex businesses, plus its intermediates and joint ventures.

DuPont said it expects to achieve annual, pre-tax cost savings of about $120 million through these actions, realizing about 30 percent this year and substantially all next year.

The company added that it anticipates a one-time, second-quarter charge of 12 to 16 cents per share.

Half of the affected employees will leave DuPont by July 31, with another 20 percent off the payroll by November. When these moves are complete, about 18,000 employees will remain in the group.

DuPont has been slashing jobs in recent months in an effort to reposition itself as a science company. Over the past year, the company has trimmed 5,500 jobs, or 6 percent of its work force.

The company said earlier it plans to reorganize along five business lines: electronic and communication technologies; performance materials; coatings and color technologies; agriculture and nutrition; and safety.

DuPont has sold its pharmaceuticals unit to Bristol-Myers Squibb Co and spun off its oil and gas company, Conoco, Inc.

NCC

Week of May 6, 2002

NCC, cotton users applaud farm legislation

MEMPHIS — The National Cotton Council said its members are pleased that a framework agreement has been reached by House and Senate conferees on new farm legislation that can become effective in 2002.

“America’s farmers and ranchers have been under the most severe economic pressure that I can remember in my 42 years of farming,” NCC Chairman Kenneth Hood said. “This agreement will provide a substantially improved level of income protection that certainly will be welcomed by all seven segments of the U.S. cotton industry.

“The U.S. cotton industry, from producer to textile manufacturer, would be helped by this bill, and there is not a segment of our industry that isn’t in need of some help. I urge Congress to approve the bill quickly so the uncertainty about policy for the 2002 crop can be removed and we move ahead with reasonable expectation for returns that will cover our costs.”

Under the agreement, domestic yarn spinners could get extra federal subsidies that could total $100 million over two years.

W. Duke Kimbrell, NCC vice president and chairman of the largest U.S. cotton user, Parkdale Mills of Gastonia, NC, noted that, “Elimination of the 1.25-cent threshold for Step 2 payments will be extremely helpful to the U.S. textile industry in its efforts to recover from unprecedented economic stress due in large measure to a strong dollar and surging Asian textile imports.”

Hood said the agreement includes many of the principles that were recommended by NCC delegates, including an effective marketing loan and a combination of fixed and counter-cyclical payments.

“This delivery mechanism,” Hood said, “helps to optimize benefits while meeting spending restraints imposed by a congressional budget resolution and WTO commitments that limit certain farm subsidies that are considered to be trade-distorting.”

Hood said provisions for updating bases and yields will be helpful to many farmers whose cropping patterns have changed in recent years and whose yields have improved. He also pointed to increased spending authority for the development of overseas markets for U.S. agricultural products as positives in the conference agreement, as well the maintenance of competitiveness provisions for extra long staple cotton and fixing the ELS loan rate at the current level.

With respect to new payment limit provisions, Hood said, “The framework agreement reduces the benefits available to larger enterprises, but it appears to strike a reasonable balance between the calls that have been made for payment-limit reform and the need to ensure that commercial size farming operations can remain viable.”

Hood said that the imposition of a means test and the reduction in the amount of benefits a program participant may receive constitute significant reform.

“The means test will disqualify the pro athletes and media moguls that have been targeted,” Hood said, “but some higher-revenue, legitimate farm operators also will be affected by the means test. The reduced limits for payments and marketing loan gains could reduce benefits to a significant number of farmers, but, importantly, the 3-entity rule and provisions for loan redemptions with certificates are being maintained.

“This will permit U.S. agricultural commodities to continue to move to market rather than be forfeited to the Commodity Credit Corporation.”

Hood noted that maintenance of provisions for certificate redemptions appears to reflect lawmakers’ understanding of the need to facilitate aggressive marketing on the part of American agriculture in a highly competitive global market.

Hood, a Gunnison, MS, producer, said NCC members are grateful for the dedicated, resourceful leadership of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX) and Ranking Member Charlie Stenholm (D-TX).

“Both have been steadfast in their efforts to fashion new farm legislation that will help restore the economic viability of U.S. agriculture,” he said.

He also applauded the leadership of Cotton Belt Representatives, Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Richard Pombo (R-CA), Terry Everett (R-AL), Frank D. Lucas (R-OK) and Calvin Dooley (D-CA) and commended Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) for stepping in at critical times, first to get a bill passed by the Senate and later to help bring the conference process to a completion.

Additionally, he said the industry is indebted to Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Zell Miller (D-GA), John Breaux (D-LA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), John Edwards (D-NC), Max Cleland (D-GA) and Jean Carnahan (D-MO), who played important roles in keeping the Majority Leader focused on cotton’s concerns in the conference’s waning days.

Cotton Belt conferees Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Jesse Helms (R-NC), although in the minority among Senate conferees, still managed to play an extremely important role, Hood said.

U.S.

Week of May 6, 2002

O’Neill: Dollar policy good for U.S.

The United States’ strong dollar policy likely won’t be changed anytime soon, according to Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, despite complaints from American companies and industries, including textiles, that say they have been hurt by its high value.

“Lots of people come to Washington and tell us how they are hurting, and I think we have to be sympathetic with that, but at the same time, we are better off to help the casualties if it produces a better economic outcome for the whole society,” O’Neill testified to the Senate Banking Committee during a special hearing.

People

Week of May 6, 2002

Quaker’s Degomes retires, sells stake

FALL RIVER, MA — Anthony Degomes, Quaker Fabric Corp.’s vice president of new business development, has taken early retirement and sold his share in the company to top-level executives, the company announced.

Larry A. Liebenow, president and CEO, and Duncan Whitehead, vice president of research and technology, have bought 12 percent of Degomes’ interest in Nortex Holdings, Inc., which owns 17.2 percent of the outstanding shares of the woven upholstery fabric maker, according to reports.

Following Degomes’ departure, Bea Spires, vice president of styling and design, will be responsible for designing and developing the company’s fabrics for the contract market.

Also, Tom Muzekari, vice president of marketing, will be responsible for marketing and distributing the company’s products into that market segment.

“Tony and his team have done an outstanding job of paving the way for a major move by Quaker into the office and hospitality segments of the fabric industry, and we are definitely going to miss him,” Liebenow said. “Bea and Tom have the technical expertise and industry experience needed to capitalize on the momentum Tony’s group has built for Quaker in the office and hospitality markets, and I am, therefore, confident that we will be able to continue to serve our contract market customers well.”

On the move

Lewis named director of marketing at Unifi

GREENSBORO, NC — Kimberley Lewis has been named director of marketing at Unifi Inc.

Lewis was promoted from marketing manager and, in her new role, will oversee marketing operations for the company, with a strong focus on brand-building and “first-to-market” strategies. Lewis will lead the marketing department in a new customer-focused direction, ultimately streamlining efficiency in customer service.

Prior to joining Unifi in 2001 as marketing manager, Lewis was national account manager with Swift Denim in New York.

Lewis began her textile marketing career in the merchandising and sales department at Milliken & Co..

DuPont Ink Jet picks Peiper as manager

WILMINGTON, DE — DuPont Ink Jet has named Brad Peiper global sales and service manager.

Peiper will be responsible for developing worldwide sales and service strategies for the DuPont textile and ink segments, as well as adapting business strategies to accommodate global customer needs.

Previously, Peiper served as business manager of the DuPont Ink Jet desktop segment, where he managed the development and launch of new product lines and initiated technology symposiums between DuPont and key customer companies to generate new business opportunities.

From 1994-96, Peiper was product management and customer support director for DuPont/Fuji Crosfield Electronics Company in Hemel Hempstead, England. There, he managed the development and worldwide marketing launch of four new digital prepress systems and initiated a product portfolio planning process between parent companies, DuPont and Fuji.

Peiper’s previous positions at DuPont include North American business manager for proofing products and manufacturing technical supervisor. He began his career in 1978 as a DuPont field engineer.

Peiper graduated from Lehigh University, where he earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering. He also holds a masters degree in business administration from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.

Hightower takes post with Werner

RESTON, VA — Neil H. Hightower, who resigned last year as president and chief executive officer of now-defunct Thomaston Mills, has accepted a position with Werner International, Constantine Raptis, president and owner of the industrial management consulting firm, announced last week.

Hightower, who brings more than 35 years of textile-industry experience to the company, will serve as vice president of marketing.

“We are pleased to have Neil Hightower become a member of the Werner organization,” Raptis said. “His contacts and knowledge of the textile industry will be valuable to Werner and our clients.”

Hightower and other relatives resigned from Thomaston Mills in February 2001, ending more than a century of control of the company by his family. Several months later, the company was forced by its creditors to liquidate its assets.

Hightower will work out of his Thomaston, GA, office.

Werner International focuses on the fiber, textile and clothing industry. The company was founded in 1939, and has provided services to more than 4,000 clients in 80 countries.

Among its clients are the leading private-sector companies of the fiber, textile and apparel industry throughout the world, as well as governments, international agencies and financial institutions.

Martin Color-Fi

Week of May 6, 2002

Martin Color-Fi to shutter plant

LAURENS, SC — Martin Color-Fi is closing its yarn-spinning plant here, laying off about 45 people in the process, according to reports.

The plant, which spins yarn used in carpet and bath mats, has gradually reduced its work force since November as orders have dropped.

The company, based in Edgefield, SC, is moving to exit ancillary lines, including spun yarn, while focusing on its core business, synthetic fiber.

Martin Color-Fi, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection in 2000, is owned by an affiliate of Philadelphia-based investment company Dimeling, Schrieber & Park.

The closing is the latest blow to Laurens County, which has lost about 3,000 jobs during the past year and seen its unemployment rate rise to 10.1 percent.

Fiscal notes

Week of May 6, 2002

One-time items smack Dan River

DANVILLE, VA — Dan River, Inc. lost $5.1 million, or 24 cents, in the first quarter on lower sales.

Included in these results is a one-time increase in income tax expense of $2.8 million, or $0.13 per share, attributable to tax law changes associated with the Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act of 2002. Also, the company took a $1.4 million, pre-tax charge for bad debt expense related to the Chapter 11 filing of Kmart.

For the comparable quarter of 2001, the company lost $6.5 million, or 30 cents per share.

Net sales were $158.4 million, down $5.6 million or 3.4 percent, from $164 million for the same period last year.

“We are pleased to report better-than-expected first-quarter operating results and that revenues in each of our major divisions were up from the fourth quarter of 2001,” said Joseph L. Lanier Jr., chairman and CEO. “We knew that first quarter 2002 results would reflect some fourth-quarter 2001 unfavorable manufacturing costs.

“We were able to offset most of the negative impact of these items by selling a much better mix of home fashions products in the first quarter.”

Additionally, Dan River’s order book has grown “substantially” from the end of 2001 in each of its three divisions and its plants operated at or near planned capacity in the first quarter, Lanier said.

Unifi shows signs of life, despite loss

GREENSBORO, NC — Unifi, Inc. reported a net loss of $3.6 million, or 7 cents a share, in the third quarter after losing $28.5 million, or 53 cents a share, for the comparable period last year.

Net sales were $213.5 million compared to $255.2 million for the prior-year March quarter. The company noted that operating performance improved as it moved through the quarter, with sales volume in March up 11 percent versus the month of January, based on a comparable number of operating weeks.

“We are extremely pleased by the across-the-board volume gains experienced throughout the quarter, and we are confident that we will sustain this momentum throughout the upcoming June quarter,” said Brian Parke, president and CEO. “Despite the recent difficulties experienced by several of our domestic customers, our domestic volume in both polyester and nylon improved in response to improved demand throughout the supply chain following slower-than-expected January sales.”

Burke ends drought, finishes in black

VALDESE, NC — Burke Mills, Inc. made $315,000, or 11 cents per share, for fiscal year 2001, representing its first full-year profit since 1998.

The company lost $850,000, or 31 cents a share, last year. Annual sales dipped from $39.5 million to $37.2 million.

For the fourth quarter, the company made $123,000, or 4 cents a share, on sales of $8.1 million.

Pillowtex

Week of May 6, 2002

P’Tex plan confirmed

KANNAPOLIS, NC — The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware on Wednesday confirmed Pillowtex Corporation’s Second Amended Plan of Reorganization filed on March 11.

Confirmation by the court clears the way for Pillowtex to emerge from bankruptcy by June 30, according to Tony Williams, president and chief operating officer.

“Though we will soon close the last chapter of the bankruptcy process, we will continue to implement new initiatives to deliver on the promise inherent in our Plan of Reorganization,” Williams said. “Our pledge is to continually offer the consumer new programs that are fashionable, distinctive and exciting.

“This marks the beginning of a new chapter in this company’s history.”

Under the terms of the plan, all shares of Pillowtex’s existing common stock and preferred stock will be canceled. The reorganized company will then issue new common stock to its secured creditors and a combination of new common stock and warrants to its unsecured creditors, in accordance with the distribution procedures provided in the plan.

The company said it will emerge from bankruptcy significantly stronger, having reduced its debt by about $700 million.

The company filed a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in November 2000.

Briefs

Week of May 6, 2002

Elastic Fabrics sold by CMI Industries

GREENSBORO, NC — CMI Industries, Inc. (CMI) completed the sale of its wide elastic business to EFA Holdings LLC, in accordance with CMI Industries’ Chapter 11 reorganization plan.

The plan was approved in United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware on April 11.

EFA Holdings LLC will operate the Greensboro-based manufacturer of warp and circular knit fabrics under the name of Elastic Fabrics of America (EFA). All employees and management directly associated with the business will be retained by the new company, according to the new owner.

“We are pleased with the outcome for this business,” said James Robbins, who was named president and CEO of the new company. “The partnership we have developed with our new owners allows us to do all the things necessary to have a healthy, successful and ongoing business. We are excited about the potential for our company, which bodes well for our customers, suppliers, employees and other stakeholders.

“While we faced uncertainty during CMI’s restructuring, we will now be able to fully focus on the business needs of our customers and realize our true potential.”

In addition to the retention of current management, EFA announced that Gary Monroe will be rejoining the company as chief operating officer. He will be responsible for all manufacturing operations.

Berkshire Hathaway completes FOL buy

OMAHA , NE — Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. has completed a deal to buy substantially all of Fruit of the Loom Ltd.’s business operations.

The acquisition completes Fruit of the Loom’s emergence from bankruptcy under the plan approved by its creditors and the court, Berkshire said in a release.

Fruit of the Loom, which filed for bankruptcy court protection in December 1999, will operate as an independent unit of Berkshire, owned by Warren Buffett. Buffett offered $835 million for the of Bowling Green, KY-based company, outbidding other suitors.

The buy marks Berkshire’s 11th acquisition in two years, including last year’s purchase of Shaw Industries, the world’s No. 1 carpet maker.

Delta reveals results of dutch tender offer

GREENVILLE, SC — Delta Woodside Industries, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Delta Mills, Inc., announced Thursday the results of Delta Mills’ modified dutch auction tender offer for a portion of its outstanding 9-5/8 percent senior notes due 2007.

The offer began on April 3 and expired on May 1.

A total principal amount of $34,996,000 of notes was tendered by holders of the notes and accepted for payment by Delta Mills. The “clearing price” was set at $525 per $1,000 principal amount.

As a result, the company will pay $18,372,900, plus accrued interest, to repurchase notes. All holders who tendered their notes, including those holders who tendered notes at a price below the clearing price, will receive the clearing price for their notes.

“This significant reduction in our long-term debt will further strengthen our balance sheet and is a major step in accomplishing the objectives of our long term strategic plan for the success of Delta Woodside,” said Bill Garrett, president and CEO.

Russell Corp. launches supply-chain software

ATLANTA — American Software announced that Russell Corp.’s JERZEES® Activewear division has deployed New Generation’s Internet-based, supply-chain management software system, e-SPS.

The software will manage inventory, track the production of products and collaborate with Russell’s trading partners worldwide.

Outlast, partner to start JV firm

BOULDER, CO — Outlast Technologies, Inc. USA and CF Ploucquet GmbH Germany recently signed an agreement to start a joint venture company, Outlast Europe Gmbh.

The new company, based in Heidenheim, Germany, will market and sell all Outlast products throughout Europe. CF Ploucquet has been Outlast’s European partner for more than five years, producing coated and laminated phase-change materials for various applications.

Obituary

Week of May 6, 2002

Grover president Harry was active leader in community

SHELBY, NC — Charles Franklin Harry III, president of Grover Industries, Grover, NC, died unexpectedly Friday, April 26, 2002 at Cleveland Regional Medical Center. He was 65.

A native of Grover, he was the son of the late Charles Franklin Harry Jr., and Estelle Johnson Harry.

Harry used a wheelchair after contracting polio as a teenager, but he never let his disability keep him from being involved.

Harry was an active community leader serving multiple terms as a County Commissioner. He was a member of Shelby Presbyterian Church, a member of the Dover YMCA Endowment Board, a board member of the Heineman Research Center and a past chairman and current board member of the Cleveland Regional Medical Center.

He was also a founder of the former Carolina State Bank and board member of the First Charter National Bank, as well as serving on many other corporate and community boards. He was a Mason at the State Line Lodge #375 and a life member of the Scottish Rite and of the Oasis Shrine Temple, Charlotte, NC.

He is survived by his wife, Ann Gray Lutz Harry; a daughter, Robin Harry Smith, and son-in-law, Loyd B. Smith Jr. of Shelby; and a son, Franklin Scott Harry and daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Ellis Harry of Wilmington, NC; two brothers and a sister, O. John Harry of Grover, James A. Harry of Gastonia, NC, and Jean Harry Francis of Grover; and four grandchildren.

Grover was laid to rest on Sunday, April 28, at the Grover cemetery, with Masonic Rites by Stateline Masonic Lodge #375.

During a memorial service afterward, Harry’s widow told the crowd, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, to you and everybody who had been so kind,” according to reports. “I begrudgingly gave up time with Charlie these 46 years, and now I know why. I am pleased to know you care about Charlie, so, please, go out and live your life for others, like he did.”

Memorials in lieu of flowers are requested to the Dover YMCA 411 Cherryville Rd., Shelby, NC 28150 or the Heineman Research Center, 1000 Blythe Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28232.

SUPPLIERS

Week of May 6, 2002

Sulzer head: Machine ensures fabric quality

SPARTANBURG, SC — Top-quality weaving is imperative for fabrics going into ballistic and protective clothing.

If p-Aramid fibers (e.g. Kevlar and Twaron) are damaged during the weaving process, the deterioration in fabric quality can be absolutely crucial. Minimal defects, while often unimportant for everyday garments, can make a fabric unsuitable for ballistics and protective clothing.

According to Fritz Legler, president of Sulzer Textile, Inc., yarn-friendly motion sequences on the weaving machine allow the successful weaving of friction-sensitive p-Aramid yarns, and at production speeds close to 600 rpm on his company’s G6300 rapier weaving machine.

“This is yet another example where the G6300 has found a great deal of interest with leading makers of protective textiles in this and other countries,” Legler said. “A good number of companies in this country excel at producing the most innovative and high-tech fabric designs going into technical, industrial and automotive applications.

“The new G6300 is ideal for those applications, since it builds on the unrivaled reputation its predecessor, the G6200, has with leading weavers here in the field of protective clothing, car upholstery as well as airbags.”

The G6300 is a most user-friendly machine that allows quick and reliable turnaround times with most complex fabric designs, Legler added.

Reproducibility is key in the area of high-tech fabrics, as is a most economical production with the G6300, he said.

“Its optimum price-to-performance ratio should ensure that American weavers have an interesting machine concept with the G6300,” Legler said.

Bowman Hollis Mfg. buys Duesberg Comb Box line

CHARLOTTE, NC — Bowman Hollis Manufacturing, Inc. announced the purchase of the Duesberg Comb Box line from Innotech, Inc.

Complete new units and parts for this patented, oil-less comb box can be bought through the company’s office here or through its LaGrange, GA, office, according to company officials Russ Bowman and Jeff Buchanan.

Bowman Hollis Manufacturing was created recently when Bowman Dunn of Charlotte merged with W.T. Hollis of LaGrange. W.T. Hollis had been a subsidiary of Bowman Dunn for four years.

To contact the company in Charlotte, call toll-free 1-888-269-2358; in LaGrange, call 1-800-822-6483.

For more information about the company, check out next week’s STN.

MULTI-STATE TEXTILE SUMMIT

Week of May 6, 2002

Panelists: Don’t speed up quota phase-out

Part 6

Editor’s note: In this, part 6 of our coverage of the Multi-State Textile Summit at Gaston College in Dallas, NC, on March 22, excerpted remarks from two members of Panel III are published here. Panelists covered here are U.S. Rep. John Spratt (D-SC), and David Spooner, U.S. Trade Representative, special textile negotiator. The comments of these and other panelists are so pertinent, we deemed it appropriate to publish them, as a matter of public record for our readers. Panelists are being spotlighted on a weekly basis.

John Spratt

Let me make a few points today. First, this industry has paid dearly and is in dire condition. Obviously, it should not be used as a pawn in foreign policy and we should bring that message to the administration, continually. ...

We met with Secretary Evans and we have some successes. Pakistan did not get nearly what it wanted (in quota concessions).

Secondly, in respect to currency devaluations, which is a big problem ... it’s extremely difficult to deal with quotas with currency trade running in the hundreds of billions of dollars every day. We’ve done what we should do to get the value of the dollar down. That is, we’ve lowered interest rates to historic lows, short-term interest rates. Ordinarily that would’ve brought the value of the dollar down and currency would flow to other denominations — the yen, the euro, etc.

Nevertheless, if the NAM (National Association of Manufacturers) wants to get something done on currency devaluations, they can say to the president, “we will not support trade promotion authority in the Senate until you’ve done something about that.”

Clearly, we should go to the Bush Administration ... and the USTR and say, “Do not liberalize. Do not accelerate this quota phase-out.” With this agreement, under which quotas are gradually phased out, we cut a good deal. We should not dispose of that agreement. The Europeans are willing to do it, the Japanese are willing to do it. By the same token, we should not, in the next round of GATT, or the World Trade Organization ... agree to lower textile and apparel tariffs at all.

We signed an agreement at Doha, at the last ministerial meeting, where we effectively said we will negotiate now to either eliminate or drastically reduce tariffs. That’s the last piece of protection we’ll have after quotas expire after 2004. We shouldn’t give that up.

Thirdly, we should demand linkage between exporting countries to the U.S. and our access to their markets. Got any Commerce Department people here? Let me tell you to go back and read Article 2, paragraph 14 of the Agreement on Trade of Textiles and Clothing, the WTO agreement. I was in Geneva the week before we closed the agreement in the Uruguay Round. We tried desperately to get some very strict language. The best we could get was language from the ATC (Agreement on Textiles and Clothing), which said “quota acceleration cannot occur if a country is not allowing access to their market.”

Next point: The Berry Amendment. Robin Hayes introduced it in the Armed Services Committee again, to be carried forth to the end of the year. Well, let’s not let up on buy American. It’s the one thing we’ve got and let’s take advantage of it.

This gives us an opportunity to address one of the disparities, one of the disadvantages that the cotton mills have to cope with when they buy cotton. It’s too complex to try to explain in two minutes, but effectively the certificate is to equalize the domestic price with the world price. We still have a cent and a quarter per pound differential now, which the mills have to absorb. We’ve got an opportunity to take care of that because the Senate provision will dispense of that for at least one year on a trial basis, to see what the cost will be. I’ve talked with members of the Conference Committee yesterday. I think we have a good shot at that. It’s a marginal change, but by golly, we need everything we can get. Let’s go for that and see if we can’t get it.

We have 2-and-a-half years left of quotas. Let’s take advantage of that. When Rita Hayes chaired CITA (the Implementation of Textiles Agreements) ... we went after confrontations. We asked for additional quota relief. Let’s do it again, even if we lose (unintelligible) at the World Trade Organization, let’s go for it.

By the same token, Rita Hayes went to China and she negotiated a pretty good deal — not what the industry wanted, but not a bad second choice. And that gives us the right for safeguard measures, to impose compensation and cost on the Chinese after the quotas have expired in 2004. For five more years, we’ll have the opportunity to establish some quota levels to weather surges and market disruptions with respect to the China. It’s not too early to be thinking about that.

There are also other laws that deal with dumping. The steel industry didn’t just win overnight. They have worked at this problem for a long, long time and they finally convinced the International Trade Commission there was massive dumping.

Let’s go try to do the same with South Korea, with Thailand, with Indonesia, with China. It costs money. You don’t always win, but by golly, eventually you drive your points home.

Next point: Customs agents — the enforcement of existing trade laws. I have been to the well of the House more than once to try to get more Customs people. What happens, even when you can succeed and get the money for them, they get displaced for another purpose. They get displaced to fight drugs. They get displaced to fight terrorism. These are higher priorities than textile trade.

They have to be dedicated and I would suggest we try to get some more Customs agents specifically dedicated to textiles oversight. And those ports in Southern California and elsewhere, where the smuggling is occurring, where things are being brought into the United States, in transit, from Mexico, we should have at least 100 Customs agents who don’t do anything else but police that funnel. ...

Let’s penalize transshipment, let’s penalize soft declaration, let’s penalize fraud, which has larger charge-back ... and let’s bring somebody and put them in jail.

One final thing: The industry, even as it becomes more competitive, it will become more productive and there will be job losses. The country needs to recognize that. What we do when workers are displaced by trade is shamefully little. And it’s not just retraining or the assistance while one seeks to retrain. We really need some empowerment zones. ... We need special and favored tax treatment to induce new firms to move in on the heels of unemployment and to absorb those workers.

We know where people are who are going to be hurt by trade policies. The least we can do is to try to get them assistance in the form new employment opportunities.

David Spooner

I’ve been on the job for only two weeks, so I’m relatively new. I come to USTR from Rep. Sue Myrick’s office. I’m a longtime employee of Sue and, boy, has she been a good teacher because this is a tremendous challenge.

I’d like to touch on only one point, extremely briefly, and that’s about the phase- out of quotas and the pressure that some of these countries put on us to give them concessions and speed up our quota phase-out.

It really makes my blood boil because, according to the current schedule, quotas are supposed to be gone on December 31, 2004 and countries don’t understand that these quotas protect them by putting market share in the U.S. for them and protect them from a huge behemoth like China.

We have a real problem with dropping these quotas before 2004. So we’ve got to get the message to these countries to stop coming to us. It’s in their best interest and ours to keep the quota schedule as it is.

Editorial

Week of May 6, 2002

Something fresh is in the air

SOMETHING — besides pollen — is in the air these days. Perhaps it’s the fragrant scent of fresh blossoms that has the U.S. textile industry breathing a little easier. Or the mild temperatures. Or maybe the chirping of birds or the frolicking of critters.

Or maybe that fresh sense of renewal emanating through the land is nothing of this world. The planets, after all, are aligning. Don’t believe us? Look to the West after sunset tonight and see if it isn’t possible to stitch a straight line through at least five celestial bodies of the Milky Way.

Whatever is helping domestic textiles see the light at the end of the tunnel, we’ll take it. We’ll take anything at this point, after the last couple of years of utter decimation and ruin we’ve witnessed.

Nothing is business as usual these days, never will be again. But a sense of “normalcy” is returning to some companies, who now report that orders are coming in, plants are beginning to run full-time and black ink is replacing red.

COMPANIES, some of whom were dragged — screaming and clawing — into the 21st century, are adapting to changing times. They’re learning to specialize, create niches, find new “sugar daddies,” open new markets, become the low-cost producer, pay off debts and operate leaner and meaner. And some of those with public balance sheets can’t help but taunt Wall Street doomsayers, despite the “collateral damage” laying about from painful but necessary decisions.

Consider these good-news items that have recently trickled in:
• Cone Mills announced two weeks ago its first quarterly profit in four years — four years!;
• Dan River, which flirted with being delisted by the NYSE in February, bounced back big by also beating expectations and hitting a 52-week stock high last week;
• WestPoint Stevens reversed a trend by turning a first-quarter profit and exceeding consensus estimates, in the process more than doubling its stock;
• Culp Inc. saw its stock prices also more than double in recent months;
• Russell Corporation bettered analysts’ earnings expectations for the first quarter; and
• Pillowtex and Guilford Mills announced they expect to come out of bankruptcy court protection by this summer, albeit they will be only a shadow of their former selves.
And these reversals should bode well for industry suppliers in the coming months.

CONTRACTION hasn’t stopped altogether, of course. Yet the rate of plant closings and layoffs seems much slower than a year ago at this time. When U.S. textiles finally emerges from this deep restructuring, the industry will hardly resemble the massive manufacturing complex that kept most of you in nice suits and on a hefty per diem for so many years. But, hey, the Lone Star is just Morton’s without the frills.

With or without Washington’s support — and many companies aren’t waiting for the outcome of certain trade bills or promises — much of the industry is moving on with life. And good things are happening, as a result.

For that, it can count its lucky stars.

And maybe take a moment to catch its breath.

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