Mann: Merger, sans
honeymoon, working

May 12, 2003

Editor’s note: Following is an interview with Hollis Mann Jr., treasurer of Manufacture Alabama and chairman of its Textile Council. He also serves as plant manager of Mount Vernon Mills’ Tallassee Plant in Tallassee, AL. George N. Clark, president of Manufacture Alabama, answered a handful of questions posed. Responses were made to questions prepared by Devin Steele, STN editor, in preparation for the Textile Council’s annual meeting, scheduled for May 15-18 at Marriott’s Bay Point Resort in Panama City Beach, FL.

STN: A lot has happened to the Alabama Textile Manufacturers Association since your last meeting, of course. In July, the 101-year-old group merged with the Alabama Chemical Association and the Alabama Industry and Manufacturers Association to create Manufacture Alabama, Inc. A similar move was made in recent years by textile/apparel trade associations in North Carolina and South Carolina. What was the basis for this dramatic merger?

Mann: Textile and apparel manufacturers, along with all Alabama manufacturers, needed a more effective, consolidated voice. The merger gives us the opportunity to have more influence in the policy-making process in state government.

STN: Less than a year into the merger, please describe the association’s honeymoon and transition into wedlock.

Mann: There was no time for a honeymoon! The transition has been fast paced yet well planned and accomplished by a dedicated staff, steering committee and board, supported by the industry advisory councils and member companies. The progress is best demonstrated by the shared focus of the MA Board, led by the example and vision of Chairman Al Heffernan. Our committees are working and manned by professionals from each industry segment.

STN: According to a recent article in The Montgomery Advisor, Alabama is home to more than 5,500 manufacturing, assembly and processing companies, which employ more than 420,000 people and export $7.5 billion in products and services worldwide. With such a large constituency and impact on the state, how has Manufacture Alabama become more effective as a merged entity?

Mann: Primarily, our vision and mission have changed. Manufacture Alabama was created to affect positive outcomes in Montgomery. This means that our emphasis has shifted towards a more aggressive lobbying attitude of the legislators and executive branch of government, combined with an aggressive, proactive communications program aimed at public officials, opinion leaders and the media.

STN: What are some of the group’s early accomplishments during its first nine months?

Mann: Creating an effective organizational structure was our first necessary major accomplishment. It short order, we have established an effective committee structure that will rival mature trade associations’ committees. This allows membership input and creativity into our agenda. The committee process drives any effective trade association.

Legislatively we have extended the capital investment tax credit, killed an effort to increase the sales and use tax on manufacturing equipment and, most importantly, Manufacture Alabama now has a seat at the table.

STN: How often have leaders within the group been able to get together? What has been the primary agendas of these meetings?

Mann: The steering committee, followed by the board, has met at least monthly for the past 16 months. Primary agenda has been establishing our brand or image along with the legislative, membership development/recruitment, financial and committee planning and updates.

STN: Has the association found ways to have a more active voice in framing legislation that affects manufacturing industries?

Mann: The whole process begins with our committee structure. Manufacture Alabama has standing technical committees, covering Human Resources, Energy, Legal, Economic Development & Expansion, Safety & Security, Tax and Environmental. In addition to these structural committees, Manufacture Alabama has a state Governmental Affairs, Federal Affairs and a Communications committee. Our standing committees develop our legislative agenda and our Governmental Affairs and Communications committees assist, along with the staff in the execution of our legislative agenda.

STN: What are some of the other issues or concerns ATMA dealt with over the past few months?

Mann: In addition to the issues previously mentioned, the chairman of our Human Resources Committee, Tom Borie of Shaw Industries, and the chairman of our Economic Development and Expansion Committee, Tommy Johnson of Frontier Yarns, have been working in partnership with Chancellor Roy Johnson of Alabama Community College Systems in developing programs and initiatives for work force development, with existing industries being the primary focus. Alabama has experienced a tremendous growth of new jobs in the automobile industry and an effective work force development program is essential to backfilling the job loss to the expanding auto industry.

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

Clark: Manufacture Alabama, since the merger of ATMA, Chemical and AIM, is a melting pot of ideas. The collective views and perspectives of the three industries and how they converged, not only as a legislative voice, but also as an association family, create great energy. Numerous committees are busy with enhanced and more effective ways to improve the effectiveness of the organization and our grassroots program is creating a greater voice on the hill.

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

Mann: Benefits include being part of a trade organization dedicated to protecting the interests of all Alabama manufacturers with skilled lobbyists, an experienced staff and an ambitious action plan. Member companies can trust they will be well represented in Montgomery now and in the future.

STN: What are the latest membership numbers of the combined group?

Mann: There are 162 active members and 199 partners totaling 361 members.

STN: What has been the response to the merger by textile/apparel members?

Mann: Textile and Apparel members and our partner vendors/service members have been enthusiastic supporters. They understand the need for an organization such as Manufacture Alabama now more than ever, and realize with their combined support, that the growth potential for MA is great.

STN: With the merger, you became a member of the board of directors of Manufacture Alabama and chairman of the Textile Council. Please describe your thoughts about being among those charged with leading this group into unification?

Mann: It has been a humbling yet exciting experience, exhausting at times and always challenging. I sincerely believe the board has done all in its power to make MA a success. It has been an honor to serve with the special people involved and to represent textile and apparel members.

STN: Who is your expected successor to chair the Textile Council? Please describe his leadership skills and your working relationship with him.

Mann: David Major, director of manufacturing of Frontier Yarns, will be named Textile Council president at our upcoming meeting. I have known David for many years through ATMA and have found him to be well respected, thoughtful and dedicated to our association and its members. I’ve valued his advice and enjoyed working with him. He will be a good leader for the Textile Council.

STN: Does the Textile Council meet separately to discuss issues and concerns distinct to textile/apparel members?

Mann: Yes, we are an advisory council to the MA board and have met at least quarterly.

STN: According to the last figures I saw, from November 2001 to November 2002, the state lost 14,300 jobs, including 7,000 in the manufacturing sector. However, there were gains of almost 2,500 jobs in transportation equipment-related manufacturing, especially motor vehicle and related production. Alabama has been able to attract automotive companies such as Honda, Mercedes, Toyota and Hyundai to the state, which of course has led to this job creation. Does Manufacture Alabama believe that existing manufacturers are not getting the same types of perks and incentives as newcomers? If not, how is this being addressed?

Mann: Yes, we feel existing manufacturers are taken for granted while we stand a higher risk of losing jobs yet represent the greatest opportunity to increase employment.

Clark: Alabama’s industrial economic development and expansion policy has been one of a total focus on the automobile industry — we have placed all of our eggs in one basket. No financial advisor would recommend this type of investment policy to clients. Eighty percent of all new jobs are created by existing industry. Manufacture Alabama’s challenge is to convince political leaders that this is a flawed public policy decision and thus convince our political leaders to invest more in existing industry.

Work force development is one area in particular that needs to focus on the needs of existing manufacturers. Existing manufacturers are losing skilled workers to the automobile industry and we must backfill those jobs, as well as prepare for future growth.

STN: I understand the Textile Council’s 2003 annual meeting was scheduled last year under the auspices of ATMA, so you are keeping those plans to meet. What have been the discussions concerning future annual meetings of either the association as a whole or the Textile Council?

Mann: The Textile Council’s desire has been to maintain our identity and preserve close relationships by continuing the tradition of a Textile Council annual meeting. MA has been supportive of this for Textile and Chemical. We recognize the different segments of MA will eventually benefit from a combined meeting and we will support this when the time comes.

STN: What special do you have planned for the Textile Council’s annual meeting?

Clark: We would like to think every time the textile family of MA gets together it is special. This year’s event brings exciting legislative and other governmental speakers. One of the highlights of the events is Russell’s CEO, Jack Ward. He always has such a great perspective about the industry to share with the members.

Add Mr. Ward’s talk with the motivational and heartfelt speaker Ron Clark, Disney’s Teacher of the Year, and you’ve got a power-packed combination. Clark was selected from more than a gazillion other great American teachers and brings a timely message that’s sure to be a show stopper.

Of course, the setting of the five-star Bay Point Marriott and all its amenities make for a relaxing and rejuvenating three days of learning with the textile family of MA.

STN: Hollis, tell us how you first got started with Mount Vernon Mills.

Mann: I first took what was to be a summer job with Mount Vernon Tallassee Plant in July 1973, doffing tables in the cloth room. Since then I have not worked elsewhere. I was given the opportunity to stay on and work in the IE/technical departments part time during school and full time the next summer. Virgil Redden, past ATMA president, then plant superintendent, later a Mount Vernon vice president, put me on salary as a management trainee upon my graduation in March 1975.

Wilson Patterson, also a past ATMA president, was the general manager of the plant then and growing up in the same church with him didn’t hurt my chances. While a trainee I served as night superintendent, then moved on to an assistant supervisor job in weaving before being transferred to our corporate office in Greenville, SC, in fall of 1976, where I was assistant to one of the vice presidents in sales service. Eight months later I transferred back to Tallassee to work in production scheduling.

STN: What led you in this direction?

Mann: I honestly never thought about trying to work for Mount Vernon, though I grew up in the mill town. Our family operated one of the larger grocery stores in town, so I had grown up working in it from age 10 to 19. Like many college kids I really didn’t know what I wanted to do in life, other than get a good education and see what I could do with it. I married my high school sweetheart 10 days after college graduation and started to work with Mount Vernon as a salaried employee three days later.

Jobs for college grads were very tight at the time, including textiles, and I was fortunate Wilson Patterson and Virgil Redden saw fit to make a place for me.

I’ve thought many times how ironic it is that two ATMA past presidents hired someone that 30 years later would serve ATMA also. I must admit, I have never felt I could fill the shoes of these fine men! Otherwise, in my career Mount Vernon has always provided plenty of challenges and rewarded me for what I contribute. This may well have happened had I taken another path, but this one has been rewarding and allowed me to live and raise my children in my hometown with their grandparents virtually next door.

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

Mann: Frankly, no. I don’t remember what I dreamed of being. I enjoyed golf very much and if I knew then what I do now, I’m sure that would have been a dream.

STN: Tell me 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.

Mann: I grew up in a large, close-knit family. Mom and Dad came from 10 and 11 children families, so it’s no surprise they ended up with four boys and four girls. I’m the second oldest and had the advantage of being the oldest son, where I got to do everything first with Dad.

We were raised among our grandparents, many aunts, uncles and cousins and brought up in the First United Methodist Church, where my parents first met.

I enjoyed sports like baseball and golf, fishing and hunting in the neighborhood we lived in a few miles out of town, and Little League and high school sports later.

Hopefully I contributed to the family more than required by working in the family grocery business after school as much as possible and full time in the summer as much as 65 hours per week. I’ve always said I knew the grocery business was hard work and I assure you textiles is no different. I know what my dad, mom and uncles taught me in our family business prepared me for my career.

Hold everything ...

May 12, 2003

Union: Other potential investors
join Springs in Pillowtex bid

By Devin Steele

KANNAPOLIS, NC — A potential sale of Pillowtex Corp. to Springs Industries was put on hold when union leaders announced that other potential buyers will be involved in the process.

During a press conference here on May 7, officials with the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) said that two possible unnamed investors brought forth by the union will be allowed to make offers. As such, a planned rally outside of Springs’ headquarters in Fort Mill, SC, about an hour away, was canceled as several large buses idled outside of the union hall here.

Union leaders said that a sale of Pillowtex to Springs would jeopardize thousands of Pillowtex jobs, particularly in North Carolina.

“There is today a much better chance of the preservation of the Pillowtex jobs than there was yesterday,” said Harris Raynor, UNITE’s Southern Regional director, amid cheers from a throng of Pillowtex union members, some of whom traveled from other company locations to support the cause. “This represents a step forward in the process. It by no means is the conclusion of this process.”

Springs has been trying to buy its rival for $200 million to $300 million, according to The Charlotte Observer, citing unnamed sources.

“Springs has agreed (to allow) any offer the union has in terms of other investors it wants to present,” Springs’ spokesman Ted Matthews told the Associated Press. “If it is a viable offer that preserves a large number of Pillowtex jobs, it should be pursued.”

Raynor’s brother, UNITE President Bruce Raynor, said that their efforts were aided by several political leaders, including NC Gov. Mike Easley, Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) and U.S. House Rep. John Spratt (D-SC), who contacted both companies to urge them “to do the best thing for the citizens of this state and these communities.”

“At the end of the day, there is one reason why we are here today and that is because the workers at Pillowtex decided to be in a union,” said Bruce Raynor, whose labor group represents about 6,500 of Pillowtex’s 8,000 employees.

Pillowtex emerged from federal bankruptcy protection last June, but has experienced difficulty returning to profitability. Several senior executives, including CEO David Perdue, have left the company in the last few months.

“We hope these financial buyers will be successful bidders,” Bruce Raynor said. “We have brought them into the process ourselves, so they are buyers who have a plan that includes operating domestic production. They are buyers with the wherewithal to make acquisitions of this size.

“If successful, we will work very closely with them to make this the most productive, profitable textile company in the country, with domestic employment. No doubt that this company possesses the greatest brands in the home furnishings industry.”

Pillowtex makes towels, sheets, rugs, blankets, pillows and other home textiles and markets its products under brand names including Cannon, Fieldcrest, Royal Velvet and Charisma.

Many of the problems with Pillowtex were not created by employees, but by decades of mismanagement, Bruce Raynor added.

“We believe that with new management brought in by new owners and maybe some of the current management, that this operation can be extremely successful,” he said.

One of the possible bidders could be Cerberus Partners of New York, according to The Charlotte Observer.

Government actions also have played a major role in the loss of thousands of U.S. textile jobs, including many at Pillowtex, said Harris Raynor.

“We believe that the deluge of imports that have destroyed thousands of textile jobs continue unabated,” he said. “They need to be stopped. The politicians need to act. But the union and the workers have acted and these communities have acted to fight to preserve our jobs and today represents a very encouraging, major step forward in that process.”

The bidding process was opened to more bidders, Bruce Raynor said, because “we believe because Springs Industries does not want to be blamed for the loss of these jobs and we think the prospect of a national battle with the 250,000 members of UNITE was something that Springs management does not want to contemplate. We don’t believe that they have a self-interest in coming in here and shutting down these mills and costing these communities thousands of jobs.”

Added his brother: “Throughout this process, if there is a single buyer out there who thinks that they can come in and run this company and take these labels and leave these workers in the street, they’re going to have one hell of a fight on their hands.”

SCMA

May 12, 2003

Kent: Fertilizing mfg. ground group’s goal

Editor’s note: Following is an interview with Mark B. Kent, chairman of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance (SCMA), which will hold its 101st annual meeting May 14-17 at The Cloister at Sea Island, GA. Kent, CEO of The Kent Manufacturing Co., Pickens, SC, answered questions submitted to him by Devin Steele, STN editor.

STN: In your acceptance address after being named SCMA chairman during the group’s 100th annual meeting last year, you named three qualities necessary to advance manufacturing and the Alliance: education, participation and cooperation. How did you, your administration, staff and membership go about using these three attributes to better the manufacturing sector and SCMA?

Kent: In reference to the “three qualities” of education, participation and cooperation, I would have to hand out passing grades on all fronts. We established many important “one-on-one” meetings with the leadership in the General Assembly to discuss the many issues and areas to which we needed all three attributes mentioned above.

However, I did not want to totally focus on the outside but also on the inside. Within the Alliance, our members became more actively involved not because they were asked, but because it was required.

I cannot begin to give enough thanks to the staff for all of their efforts. I have asked them to do more than ever this year and they responded so positively. I am sure that after all the extra hours I asked to put in that they will be really looking forward to seeing my replacement, Paul Campbell.

STN: You also called on state leaders to move forward with expansion of the South Carolina port in Charleston. Please update us on this issue.

Kent: The General Assembly and leaders inside the state are moving forward with the possibility of a new port along the North Charleston area. As far as the Alliance is concerned, we have never wavered from our position. It is not a question of where, but when? We are confident that they have the importance of that message. It will be one of our responsibilities to see that they do not lose that focus going forward.

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

Kent: In the area of legislative and regulatory issues, our list is usually long and arduous. Of the hundreds of bills that are introduced in the General Assembly each year, one of the best things we do is to see that the great majority of them never see the light of day. I make that particular comment because 99 percent of the time these bills do far more damage than good. The same thing can be said about regulations.

We have been focused on a few very important issues. In no particular order, right to work legislation, tax exemption status for manufacturers, tort reform, workers compensation reform and a number of environmental regulations, including an issue regarding “wet testing.”

STN: How is the Alliance working with the legislature on tort reform?

Kent: The SCMA is dedicated to seeing the meaningful tort reforms are established and that we are able to put a stop to many of the most prominent areas of legal abuse occurring in this system. SCMA has joined forces with other like-minded segments within the state of South Carolina in the form of a coalition. This coalition is our best effort to see the job through.

STN: Let’s address some of the recent head-turning headlines and statistics related to manufacturing in South Carolina. According to recent reports, the Palmetto State had 282,500 manufacturing jobs in January, a loss of 11,800 jobs in a year. About 7,300 of those jobs were lost from last October through January, and 1,400 were in the textile and apparel industries. For 2002, South Carolina’s textile and apparel industries lost 5,500 jobs. How is SCMA working to try to curb some of this bleeding?

Kent: The best way SCMA can help stop the bleeding of lost manufacturing jobs is to create a more fertile manufacturing environment for existing business, as well as new manufacturers looking to locate to this state. This is an area of “education” I was the most concerned about during this past year, educating the General Assembly. Based on their voting records, some of them could be classified as slow learners.

STN: You’ve invited some of the Alliance’s friends in government to address this year’s annual meeting, including Gov. Mark Sanford, Sen. Lindsay Graham and U.S. House Rep. Gresham Barret, all newcomers to their respective posts, along with several other state legislators. What’s your message to lawmakers that manufacturing does matter to this country and your state?

Kent: Many of our friends and leaders in government will be attending our meeting at Sea Island. Having them in close quarters with our CEOs, presidents and leadership will help us to deliver the message that manufacturing matters. There is no other industrial or business sector that delivers more to the state’s revenue base or causes job and wealth creation than manufacturing.

In this respect, we need to make that garden more fertile. The sad thing is many of them believe they are championing bills and laws to “pick the fruit,” lately trying to pull the tree up by the roots. If they do not change their ways, they will have nothing left to harvest in the years ahead.

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

Kent: Consolidation is the natural part of business and manufacturing. While many of our members have had to face tough decisions concerning downsizing and cutbacks during this most difficult economic time, we (SCMA) have seen the opposite when referring to our membership. Last May, we had a goal to increase our membership by 20 from the base of 72.

This year I am pleased to say that we have 95 member manufacturing companies within the Alliance. The staff, board and the membership at large deserve all the credit. We tell a simple message that explains our importance within the state. SCMA is not a hard sell nor should any organization have to be.

STN: The percentage of non-textile/apparel manufacturing members has steadily grown since SCMA opened its ranks five years ago. What are those figures today? Who are your new members since last year?

Kent: With all the new members who have joined, they are too numerous to list, nor do they deserve a simple listing. They all deserve to have their stories told and as members of the Alliance, they will have that opportunity. SCMA is open to all manufacturing companies of good standing in South Carolina. Since SCTMA became SCMA five years ago, we have completely integrated the organization. There is a present mix of 60 percent non-textile and 40 textile companies.

STN: Would you like to comment on how your company is coping with the textile/apparel downturn? What factors have hurt your company the most? In what areas are you succeeding? Have you been forced into any layoffs?

Kent: Kent Manufacturing has not been immune from the most recent downturn in the economy and, yes, we have made some layoffs that we would prefer were not necessary. While pricing of products are always issues in textiles, it has been the lack of need for products that have hurt Kent specifically over the last two years.

However, we have been successful in a number of niche areas. And that says a lot when you consider that wool is basically a niche product segment on its own!

STN: What are the bright spots in manufacturing in South Carolina?

Kent: There are a number of bright spots in manufacturing within South Carolina in the Upstate. The automotive market has weathered this current storm. It does not hurt to have auto giants such as Michelin, BMW and Honda in your own backyard. Also, I would have to say that the pharmaceutical/medical sectors have fared well.

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

Kent: Besides my leaving? The growth in our organization and momentum generated by a great active membership and the arrival of our first non-textile chair, Paul Campbell of Alcoa, has me very excited! I think the best is yet to come for SCMA!

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

Kent: If I told you all of our secrets I would have to kill you; however, let me just say this: SCMA is the only organization in the state dedicated solely to interests of manufacturers. While many names have changed over the last century, we have never had a member join and then leave because they did not like the job we were doing. That is probably our greatest testament to our benefit to our members.

STN: What are the biggest challenges facing manufacturing in South Carolina now?

Kent: Our biggest challenge to SCMA is the economy of the country/state and the impact it has on both federal and state budgets. I say this because when times are tough the General Assembly tends to panic when it comes to fiscal responsibility. The first place they look to make up for shortfalls is manufacturing.

We have worked hard this year to try to educate them that they need to prime our pumps and not stem their flow. It is manufacturers who fill the state and federal coffers when they are rolling. Focus on improving our situation and it will improve the state’s situation. More often than not, lawmakers look at it completely opposite.

STN: Please describe the professional and personal relationship you have with your officers, particularly Paul Campbell, your expected successor, who will become the first non-textile/apparel representative to hold that post.

Kent: We are blessed to have a great group of officers with SCMA. I know all of them personally and can tell you that they are all proven leaders with exceptional talent. Our second vice chair, Carl Flesher Jr. of BMW is the one I see the most these days because he lives in the Upstate. Carl is an outstanding leader. I have known Malloy Evans the longest and have the closest relationship with over the years. Malloy and I fought many battles together with AYSA. Having watched Malloy first-hand on many occasions, I would be hard-pressed to find a more competent and dedicated individual anywhere.

Paul Campbell Jr., our incoming chair, has more energy and drive than anyone I know. He has the ability to make the tough decisions then make everyone feel really good about it when is all over. Paul is amazing!

STN: I understand that Executive Vice President Todd Atwater will be leaving SCMA soon. Please comment on his leadership and the Alliance’s search for a replacement.

Kent: Todd Atwater will be leaving SCMA by the end of June. While we are greatly saddened by his departure, we are very happy for him and is family professionally. SCMA has begun our search for his replacement. At this time, no successor has been chosen; however, the selection process is under way, and I am very happy with the number of extremely talented people expressing interest in the position. We are blessed with an outstanding staff who is allowing us to take our time to find the right person and foremost.

STN: What “special” do you have planned for the annual meeting? What do you hope members will take away from the event?

Kent: Even though the meeting will be in Georgia, the meeting will definitely have a “Palmetto State” flavor to it. I hope the people walk away having learned a little more about who we are and what we are doing and feel wonderful about where we are headed. If we accomplish that, we have achieved a successful conference.

ATMA

May 12, 2003

Institute needed ‘now more than ever,’ May says

By Devin Steele

CORAL GABLES, FL — Delivering his coups de grâce as chairman of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), Van May said the association is needed “now more than ever.”

“In my opinion, there has never been a time in the history of our industry, or certainly in my 25-year career, that we needed an organization helping us fight the fight in Washington more than we need it now,” he told members during their annual meeting here last month.

“I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but if you have friends, if you have acquaintances who are not in the fight, who are standing on the sidelines depending on ATMI to take care of them, they are not just hurting themselves, they are hurting all of us. We need every soldier manning a post right now.”

May, president and CEO of the Plains Cotton Cooperative Association (PCCA), Lubbock, TX, then challenged constituents to commit to bringing in at least one new member in the coming months.

“Our competition spares no expense on making sure their interests are heard in Washington,” he said. “If we don’t do everything in our power now to protect our interests, we’re going to look back five years from now and say ‘the battle was short-sighted.’ ”

May reported that ATMI has made progress over the past year in “getting our trade debate properly framed, simplifying the issues to make our situation understandable, demonstrating how we have been treated unfairly under some of our trade agreements and doing a better job at building coalitions with friends who share our common interest.”

May listed a number of accomplishments by ATMI over the past few years, including:

• elimination of the 1.25-cent per pound Step 2 cotton threshold, saving the industry $50 million/year;

• expanded tax loss carryback rules;

• improvement in the CBI, AGOA and Andean trade packages;

• maintenance of the scheduled quota phaseouts under the WTO, despite tremendous pressure from several foreign governments to accelerate the phaseout schedule;

• maintenance of the yarn-forward rules of origin in several bilateral trade agreements;

• minimization of the “giveaway” packages to other nations for their help in the fight on terrorism;

• founding of the interagency Textile Working Group;

• follow-up on the commitments from the administration and the Congress that came as an outgrowth of the Trade Promotion Authority debate — most notably the maintenance of the requirement for U.S. dyeing and finishing under the CBI and Andean trade preference programs; and

• the hiring of ATMI’s new CEO, Parks Shackelford.

“All in all, we put down a pretty good load of hay,” he said.

Moore elected

Willis C. “Billy” Moore III, executive vice president and CFO of Unifi, Inc., Greensboro, NC, was elected to succeed May.

The ATMI membership also elected James W. “Jim” Chesnutt, president and CEO of National Spinning Co., Inc., Washington, NC, as first vice chairman; and Allen E. Gant Jr., chairman, president and CEO of Glen Raven, Inc., Glen Raven, NC, as second vice chairman.

As chairman, Moore generally directs the affairs of the association, works with staff to implement the policies of the board of directors and is the primary spokesperson for ATMI. He also chairs the ATMI Board of Directors and the association’s Executive Committee.

Moore graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1975 and began his career with Ernst & Young and its predecessors. He spent 19 years in public accounting, with 10 years as a partner. During his tenure with Ernst & Young, he served as technical resident in Washington, DC working with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Additionally, Moore served as managing partner in the firm’s Greenville, SC, and Greensboro, NC, offices.

In 1994, Moore accepted his current positions. He was promoted to executive vice president in 2000.

Chesnutt graduated from East Carolina University (ECU) in 1963. He began his career with the National Bank of North Carolina (now Bank of America) in Charlotte, NC, where he spent 10 years. In 1973 he joined Harriet and Henderson Yarns, Inc. in Henderson, NC, as a vice president and remained with that company until 1997.

Chesnutt has been president and CEO of National Spinning since then.

He is also president of the American Yarn Spinners Association (AYSA) and is a past president of the North Carolina Manufacturers Association.

In addition, he has served on the Board of Directors of the Medical Foundation of ECU and the ECU School of Business Advisory Council. He also serves on the ATMI Board of Directors and Executive Committee.

Gant was born in Durham, NC, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1970. He began his career with Glen Raven, Inc. in 1971.

Gant also is chairman of the Institute of Textile Technology (ITT) and a past president of AYSA. He serves as a director or trustee on

numerous boards, including Elon University, the North Carolina Textile Foundation, Inc. and the Alamance Regional Medical Center.

At its 54th annual meeting, the ATMI membership also elected the following board members for terms expiring in Spring 2006:

• G. Stephen Felker, Avondale Mills, Inc.;

• Bernard Hodges, Wade Manufacturing Company;

• George Moretz, Carolina Mills, Inc.;

• Max Perks, Coats North America;

• Jerry Rowland, National Textiles, LLC; and

• D. Harding Stowe, R.L. Stowe Mills, Inc.

In addition to Moore, Chesnutt, Gant, Felker and May, the Board also elected the following to the ATMI Executive Committee for a one-year term expiring in the spring 2004:

• Roger W. Chastain, Mount Vernon Mills, Inc.;

• Jerry Rowland, National Textiles, LLC; and

Vietnam deal blasted
by industry groups

May 12, 2003

The U.S. textile/apparel industry and some of its allies reacted harshly to the deal on textile and apparel imports from Vietnam signed April 26.

The agreement places a cap on Vietnam textile and apparel imports, but still nearly doubles last year’s textile and apparel import total in dollars from the country. The total value of these goods from Vietnam will be limited to about $1.65 billion, from $952 million last year, and then will grow steadily.

The deal smacks at assurances made by the Bush administration that it would not trade away the U.S. textile industry in trade negotiations, according to the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI). The institute condemned the deal, saying it “gives Vietnam the most generous access to the U.S. textile market ever granted in an initial bilateral textile agreement.”

“The U.S. government appears to have abandoned its commitments to the textile industry and our associates, and to textile state representatives,” Willis C. Moore III, chairman of ATMI, said in a statement. “By granting Vietnam the largest quotas in history for the most sensitive products made by this industry, U.S. negotiators have ensured that more textile plants will close in the United States and more textile jobs will be lost in this deeply distressed industry.

“This agreement trades away good-paying American jobs to a communist country so that importing interests can save pennies per garment,” added Moore, executive vice president and CFO of Unifi, Inc., Greensboro, NC. “Make no mistake, these quotas are enormous — just one of them in the category of knit shirts is set at 164 million shirts, or one shirt for every adult person in the United States.”

The U.S. gave Vietnam textile access to the U.S. market amounting to more than 600 million square meters, an increase of 625 percent over the 83 million square meters Vietnam was shipping when the government announced last September it was time to negotiate an agreement, Moore pointed out.

“In their efforts to get Vietnam to sign an agreement, our negotiators literally doubled and tripled the quota offers that they had made just two months ago, after acknowledging that the Vietnam’s government-owned and subsidized textile sector posed a potent threat to our workers,” Moore said.

“It is increasingly hard for this industry to reconcile the government’s action with the words of Commerce Secretary (Donald) Evans 14 months ago when he stood before us and said, ‘We know what you are going through. Know that the textile industry now has a friend in Washington,’ ” Moore added.

U.S. House Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC), who cast one of the deciding votes in helping a trade promotion authority bill pass the House in Dec. 2001 in exchange for those promises, issued a statement indicating that the quota levels were set too high.

“While the Vietnamese will have to greatly reduce their import quantities, I was pushing the administration to set these limits even lower,” he said. “The simple fact is that American jobs are on the line and lower quota limits could serve to protect these jobs.”

Particularly troubling to ATMI and other textile and related lobbying organizations, is that the deal was signed even after evidence emerged that some apparel imports labeled as Vietnamese were actually produced in China. ATMI and like-minded groups had asked the U.S. to forestall talks until the extent of illegal transshipments by China through Vietnam could be reviewed.

“The failure of the U.S. negotiators to act firmly with Vietnam, especially in light of the illegal transshipments of Chinese origin goods through Vietnam, calls into question this administration’s willingness to live up to its commitments,” said Karl Spilhaus, president of the Northern Textile Association (NTA). “In Dec. 2001 Commerce Secretary Evans promised that the Bush Administration was ‘committed to strengthening U.S. enforcement efforts to prevent illegal textile transshipments, both under U.S. Customs law and pursuant to existing or future trade agreements,’ and now we see transshipment not only winked at but actually rewarded in the form of higher quotas based on fraudulent shipment data.”

Meanwhile, Roger Milliken, chairman and CEO of Milliken & Co. and co-chairman of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC), said the quota levels will severely damage and further disrupt the U.S. textile and apparel industries and its nearly 1 million employees.

“The U.S. government simply has allowed Vietnam, a nation that is not a WTO member, a nation that is not a part of any preferential arrangement, and a nation that is not even located in our hemisphere, to gain an enormous share of the U.S. apparel market,” he said in an AMTAC press release.

Augustine D. Tantillo, ATMAC’s Washington coordinator, added in the release that the U.S. textile industry deserves a “full explanation” as to why the administration’s promises were broken.

“There should be an investigation sponsored by either Congress or the GAO (General Accounting Office) that asks and answers the following questions: 1) Why did the U.S. government finalize a deal based on trade numbers that were clearly inflated by illegal transshipment?; and 2) What is the exact amount of transshipment in each of the quota categories?” Tantillo said.

U.S. Rep. Howard Coble, (R-NC), in fact, is considering making a request to the GAO for an investigation into how terms of the agreement were reached, The High Point (NC) Enterprise reported.

Robert W. Greene, a Courtland, AL, cotton ginner and chairman of the National Cotton Council, said the offer seriously damages U.S. cotton growers and textile manufacturers.

“The market access offered to Vietnam by the U.S. negotiators could largely preclude much of the potential benefit from future Western Hemisphere trade agreements,” he said.

Briefs

May 12, 2003

Springs completes deal for Owen

FORT MILL, SC — Springs Industries, Inc. announced May 5 that it has completed its acquisition of consumer blankets provider Charles D. Owen Manufacturing Co., Inc.

Owen employs about 700 people at a manufacturing facility in Swannanoa, NC.

Charles D. Owen III will manage the blanket business for Springs and report to Tom O’Connor, executive vice president and head of sales and marketing for Springs. His father, Charles D. Owen Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of the former company, will consult on an interim basis as the two organizations merge.

Springs announced plans to acquire Owen in February. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.

Springs also confirmed that nine research and development jobs are being eliminated here.

K. Neuburger, Crown launch bedding line

SAN RAFEAL, CA — Karen Neuburger and Crown Crafts Infant Products, Inc. announced the launch of a new line of Karen Neuburger® Infant Bedding.

The Karen Neuburger Infant Bedding recently debuted at the International JPMA Juvenile Products Show in Dallas.

The Karen Neuburger Infant Bedding line offers consumers a range of infant soft bedding products that reflects Karen Neuburger’s signature comfort and design philosophy as seen in the Karen Neuburger line of products from sleepwear to designer bedding. The collection includes comforters, fitted sheets, crib bumpers, dust ruffles and diaper stackers.

Each collection will be based on original licensed designs from the Karen Neuburger lifestyle and home collection.

Bloom Mills forced to lay off 35 people

BLOOMSBURG, PA — Bloomsburg Mills has eliminated 35 positions, perhaps temporarily, according to a company officials.

The apparel maker blamed the cutbacks on imports from China and the sluggish economy.

With the layoffs, 160 employees remain with the company, which just two years ago employed 240 people.

Dynacraftsman cuts staff in half

TAUNTON, MAN— Dyecraftsman Inc., a yarn dyeing company, has cut its work force by half.

The staff was cut from 40 to 20 people due to continued pressure from imports, according to owner John Chopak.

Cotton briefs

EFS Conference set for Greenville

May 12, 2003

NEW YORK — The latest technological advances aimed at linking all segments of the cotton industry will be on display at Cotton Incorporated’s 16th Annual Engineered Fiber Selection® (EFS®) Cotton Fiber Management Systems Conference, slated for June 9-11 in Greenville, SC.

The EFS® System software is a group of programs that, through the use of High Volume Instrument (HVI) data, provides authoritative cotton management and analysis information, as well as electronic communication between and among mills, ginners, producers and merchants.

The conference, which has evolved into one of the most information-rich conferences in the cotton industry, will provide attendees from the four major segments — growers, ginners, merchants and mills — with an in-depth look at state-of-the-art cotton fiber management. This year’s program topics will identify market and consumer trends that are shaping the industry.

Featured presentations highlight the latest developments in Cotton Incorporated’s Engineered Fiber Selection® System as well as in-depth reviews of the cotton market, retail trends, cotton quality issues, spinning and fabric competitiveness and cotton breeding progress, as well as an update of cotton classing by the USDA-AMS.

Since its introduction in 1982, EFS® has blossomed from an innovative concept to an industry standard. Today, EFS System programs are utilized by nearly 100 percent of the cotton spinning mills within the U.S., and internationally with 22 mills in Europe, Canada, Mexico and the Far East.

To register, call Susan Marie Foote at 919-678-2344 or Charles Chewning at 919-678-2265. Registration can also be made through the Cotton Incorporated Web site, www.cottoninc.com.

GTP seminar to cover problematic cotton

GREENVILLE, SC — “Processing Problematic Cotton Fiber — Current Crop” is the subject of a half-day seminar here by Global Textile Partner (GTP).

The event is scheduled for June 17.

Roger Insley, president and CTO of Custom Technical Solutions, will lead the seminar. The event will identify and offer fiber processing solutions to three known problems associated with this year’s cotton crop: cavitoma, stickiness and immaturity.

The session is designed to present proven techniques and ideas regarding processing of problematic cotton. It is approached from the perspective of fiber, machine and process considerations for spinners, fabric makers and finishers.

The registration fee for this seminar is $195 per person.

For more information and registration, contact Andy Butenhoff at 864-609-2838 or at andy.butenhoff@

globaltextilepartner.com.

Series of programs on CD-ROM released

Cotton Inc., with funding from the Importer Support Program of the Cotton Board, has introduced an interactive series of educational programs on CD-ROM that cover every aspect of knitting, weaving and dyeing and finishing processes.

The first two programs in the series, The Art of Knitting and The Science of Dyeing and Finishing, have been released. Three other programs, The Art of Weaving, Color Science and The Art of Printing, are slated for introduction later in this year or early next year.

“This new educational CD program was developed to provide the first of its kind interactive sessions on various topics regarding yarn, fabric or finishing techniques,” said Dennis Horstman, Cotton Inc.’s director, Brand Marketing, Global Product Marketing. “This program will enable users to acquire more working knowledge about cotton fabrics from anywhere they have computer access.”

Partnership formed with marketing firm

Cotton Inc. and Alloy, a media, direct marketing and marketing services company targeting Gen Y, are teaming up to sponsor ClubCotton, a unique Web site and catalog promotion.

Alloy will feature cotton merchandise in its catalog, and product articles, quizzes, horoscopes, polls and sweepstakes highlighting cotton fashion and promotions with notable recording artists for its Web site, www.alloy.com.

In addition, with every $85 cotton purchase, customers will receive a popular new CD as a gift with purchase, designed to link cotton, music and fashion in teens’ minds.

As part of the promotion, six advertorial pages will run in the May, July and September issues of the Alloy catalog, which reaches about 3 million teenage girls monthly. Additionally, the sweepstakes and the GWP will be promoted through the Alloy catalog and will direct teens to the Web site, where they can engage in entertaining content and enter to win prizes.

A full-page advertorial will also be featured in the back-to-school issue of ALLOYGIRL magazine, which will be mailed to 500,000 subscribers.

Pickin' cotton

SARS’ economic impact considered by market

May 12, 2003

By Odyll Santos

The pneumonia-like virus that has sickened thousands in China and spread to countries around the world has sparked worries in the cotton industry. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, prompted concerns about a decline in Asian cotton demand, especially in China. For many observers, the question remains: How much harm will SARS do?

The uncertainty over the economic impact of SARS on China and other countries has had a notable effect on the cotton market, resulting in plunging cotton prices as the month of April came to a close.

SARS took the optimism out of the New York futures market. In early April, futures traded higher on increasing global cotton demand amid tight supplies, especially of high-quality growths. Back then, new-crop cotton prices even rose to contract highs. But the possibility that SARS could seriously weaken China’s economy, hitting textile manufacturers and other businesses, forced cotton prices in the opposite direction in the last two weeks of the month.

“Clearly the apprehension and fears resulting from the fallout of SARS invited an abrupt attitude change, including widespread reevaluation of offering prices of global inventories,” said Mike Stevens, trader and analyst at Swiss Financial Services in Mandeville, LA, in comments posted on-line May 5.

The Cotlook A Index, an average of the lowest priced cotton growths in the world, had fallen below 59 cents per pound by the end of April following a two-year high of 61.50c established in March.

Offering prices for physical cotton declined in every country in the final weeks of April, noted Mississippi cotton marketing expert O.A. Cleveland in a review of the trading week ended May 2. “Demand is not going to dry up, so to speak, but the perception of such has taken a life of its own, and in the cotton market, perception is reality,” he said.

If SARS cuts China’s textile output significantly, U.S. and world cotton prices are likely to see more pressure, as cotton stocks build up.

Cotton merchandising firms noted that apparel buyers cut travel to China and other major textile-making nations in Asia. That may translate to lost business for many mills and manufacturers in the region, and they could see their inventories rise with the lack of orders. The decline in orders could affect U.S. cotton exports to those countries, though other textile-making nations could pick up some of the lost business and keep U.S. cotton sales from falling.

USDA data for the week ended April 24 showed that China canceled 68,800 running bales in purchases of U.S. upland cotton, contributing to the week’s total cancellations of 97,400 running bales, a marketing-year high. That supported ideas that SARS hurt Chinese retail sales, though some observers believe the cancellations were due to problems with import licenses.

Despite the cancellations, some export data actually pointed to good demand for cotton. USDA reported U.S. upland shipments of 272,500 running bales for the week. So far, SARS hasn’t proved to be an obstacle to shipments, which were above the amount necessary to reach the 2002-03 export estimate of 10.8 million 480-pound bales (about 10.4 million running bales). With shipments remaining strong, some market observers continue to believe that USDA will raise the export projection for the year.

As observers watch for each new development in the SARS story, they’ll also be watching those export numbers. Demand will determine whether the cotton business survives the ravages of SARS.

Mills

Cone’s Bakane to replace Trogdon

May 12, 2003

GREENSBORO, NC — Cone Mills Corporation announced May 6 that John L. Bakane has been elected chairman of the board by its directors to retiring replace Dewey L. Trogdon.

Trogdon, who has served as chairman of the denim producer since 1981, will reach mandatory retirement from the board at the 2004 annual meeting. He will remain on the board until that time.

“Cone Mills is a 112-year-old company,” Trogdon said. “As we change the watch to John, I am comfortable with the direction of the company and confident that Cone will continue to be a vibrant organization.”

Bakane, 52, will retain the titles of president and chief executive officer, which he has held since 1998.

Bakane joined Cone in 1975 and, after holding various financial positions, was elected vice president in 1986, chief financial officer in 1988 and to the board of directors in 1989. In 1997 he became president of the Cone Apparel Products Group and was elected chief operating officer in 1998.

Bakane graduated from the University of Alabama-Birmingham with a bachelor of science degree in business administration and holds an MBA degree from the University of Virginia.

“Over the past two decades, Dewey Trogdon has been more to us at Cone than mere CEO and chairman of the board — he has been our commander-in- chief,” Bakane said. “We honor his many contributions by committing our efforts to keeping the company strong.”

In other action, the board designated Charles M. Reid as lead director. A Cone director since 1988, Reid is a director and chairman of United Guaranty Corporation, of which he was president and CEO from 1987 to 2001.

Fiscal notes

May 12, 2003

Deadline extended for Malden chairman

BOSTON — Aaron Feuerstein, chairman of Malden Mills Industries Inc., has been granted a three-week extension to raise the estimated $92 million he needs to keep control of the company once it emerges from bankruptcy protection.

He has at least until Aug. 21 to raise the money, company spokesman David Costello told Reuters. The previous deadline was July 31.

Malden Mills requested the extension, which was supported creditors.

The price Feuerstein would have to pay to buy back his majority stake in the company will rise dramatically if he doesn’t raise the money by the deadline. If he is unable to do so, the board of directors will have the power to appoint the company’s management.

According to a front page article in The Wall Street Journal on May 9, Feuerstein said he has raised all but about $10 million of the $92 million.

The company has been in Feuerstein’s family for nearly a century.

Ameritex emerges from Chapter 11

BURLINGTON, NC — Ameritex Yarn LLC emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on April 11.

Ameritex, based here, manufactures sales yarn for the knitting and weaving industry. It employs 214 people.

The company filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 protection on January 17, 2002, in order to accomplish a reorganization of the company’s debt. A successful reorganization plan was confirmed by the bankruptcy court for the Middle District of NC on Jan. 28.

Creditors object to Burlington plan

WASHINGTON, DC — Burlington Industries’ plan for compensating bankers was objected to by its unsecured creditors and the U.S. trustee appointed to its Chapter 11 case, Dow Jones reported.

According to court papers obtained by the news agency, the company sought to pay certain fees to retain Miller Buckfire Lewis & Co. and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein Inc. to advise on a possible sale of Burlington.

Profits nose-dive at Quaker Fabric

FALL RIVER, MA — Quaker Fabric Corp. reported that first-quarter profits fell by 48.8 percent, to $3.7 million from 7 million last year.

Hurt by softness in demand, sales fell to $90.2 million from $100 million.

Russell Corp. sees climb in earnings

ATLANTA — Russell Corp. reported that quarterly earnings rose 31 percent, to $3.4 million from $2.6 million in the same period last year.

Earnings per share were 11 cents from 8 cents a year ago, over Thomson First Call estimates of 9 cents per share. Sales rose 6 percent to $228 million.

Culp expects earnings to fall shy of guidance

HIGH POINT, NC — Culp, Inc. announced that it expects earnings for the fourth quarter ended April 27 to be about 26 cents to 30 cents per diluted share, lower than the company’s previous guidance of 41 cents to 44 cents.

Dixie Group suffers loss in first quarter

CHATTANOOGA, TN —The Dixie Group, Inc. announced a net loss of $336,000, or 3 cents per diluted share, compared to net income of $496,000, or 4 cents per share, for the first quarter of 2002. Sales were $112 million from $123.3 million.

Levi Strauss completes tender offer for notes

SAN FRANCISCO — Levi Strauss & Co. announced that it has successfully completed its tender offer for its outstanding 6.80 percent notes due this year.

VF Shareholders again vote to declassify board

GREENSBORO, NC — During its annual meeting on April 22, 57 percent of VF Corporation shareholders again voted in favor of a proposal to declassify the company’s board of directors.

The proposal, brought by Amalgamated Bank’s LongView Collective Investment Fund, urges the board to institute annual director elections. Under the current system of staggered elections, roughly a third of the directors face election each year.

This is the second year in a row that VF shareholders voted to adopt this proposal. Last year, the board of directors refused to take steps to implement the proposal.

Mills

May 12, 2003

Glen Raven reaches safety milestones

GLEN RAVEN, NC — The Knit Fabrics Group of Glen Raven Inc. announced the achievement of three safety plateaus — reaching 5 million hours without a lost-time accident, achieving 10 years without a lost-time accident and being recognized by the State of North Carolina with the Rising Star certification.

All of these accomplishments occurred within one month of each other.

“The last lost-time accident this division recorded was on January 27, 1993,” said Ricky Michael, vice president of manufacturing. “Since then, we have not lost any work days to an on-site accident. It is a record we are very proud of and want to continue. During this time frame, we have accumulated 5 million hours. Now, we have our sights set on 6 million hours.”

The Rising Star certification is part of the Star Program through the Labor Division of the State of North Carolina. Oria Balchin, occupational nurse for the Knit Fabrics Group and coordinator of the safety process, said the Rising Star certification is one step away from Carolina Star recognition, the highest State safety award.

“To qualify for both, a company must exhibit very aggressive safety practices with a very heavy employee involvement,” Balchin said. “Training, management support and best safety practices also play a major part.”

The Knit Fabrics Group reached this recognition after a three-day audit by state representatives in September.

“We are only the 51st company out of about 22,000 to be certified in any of the Star categories,” Balchin said. “We now have a goal of achieving Carolina Star this summer.”

In honor of these achievements, a special celebration was held recently for employees of the division and their families.

“We remain a family-spirited company,” said Harold Hill, president of the Knit Fabrics Group. “The results today are a testament to the honor we place on the foundations set out 120 years ago. Safety is at the top of that list. Not only are our employees responsible for this achievement, but their families also helped. This multi-level support and symmetry breeds the type of success we are achieving. I am thrilled to share this day with this group.”

Textile News Index