TRADE SHOW SEMINAR

Week of May 20, 2002

ATME-I ’04 show sign-ups off to ‘encouraging’ start

Part of a panel addressing various issues during a trade show seminar are (L-R) Butler Mullins, president of Textile Hall Corporation; Joe Okey Jr., president of American Monforts, Charlotte, NC, and an ATMA board member; and Clay Tyeryar, ATMA’s executive vice president. Earlier, Butler addressed the group about the ATME-I 2004 show.
Photo by Devin Steele

Part 1

TODAY'S FOCUS: ATME-I 2004

By Devin Steele

CHARLOTTE, NC — Still 2-1/2 years away, the American Textile Machinery Exhibition-International (ATME-I) 2004 trade show is about 40 percent sold out of exhibitor space, according to Butler Mullins, president of Textile Hall Corporation.

And that’s “very encouraging,” he said, especially considering the uncertainty surrounding the future of the event — and the industry — a year ago at this time.

Addressing the audience at a trade show seminar sponsored by the American Textile Machinery Association (ATMA) here recently, Mullins reported those early sign-up figures for the Greenville, SC, exhibition, how organizers were handling the planning of a consolidated show and intended promotional efforts. He prefaced his report by touching on the cloud hanging over the show last year.

“About a year ago, we closed the door on ATME-I 2001 and, with the close of that show, there were an awful lot of questions about where that show was going — consolidated shows vs. split shows, Orlando vs. Greenville. Suffice it to say that (co-sponsors) ATMA and Textile Hall were in a tense relationship, if that’s a fair description. But a lot has changed since that time.

“That situation was affected even more so back in June with the financial crisis of Textile Hall Corporation, the purchase of the Palmetto Expo Center by the City of Greenville, followed by successful discussions between Textile Hall and ATMA about the future of ATME-I and then the announcement of the show cycle. And then the events of 9-11 put us all back on our heels at a time when we were just beginning to mail the applications for space for the 2004.”

But organizers have made heady progress since then, Mullins noted. As of early this month, 244 companies had applied to exhibit and requested between 91,500 and 118,500 square feet of exhibit space, or about 40 percent of available area. Though not actually assigned but tallied for comparative purposes only, total allotted area is 104,299, he added.

Mullins showed how those figures stack up to final numbers from ATME-I’s two most recent cycles. Combined, those two cycles averaged 472 exhibitors and the average total assigned area was 237,194.

“Obviously, we’re talking about being at 30 months before the show now and consolidated vs. split, so I don’t want you to read too much into it,” he said.

In addition, Mullins said, the average requested booth size is 427 square feet, compared to an average stand size of 426 square feet at ATME-I 2000 and 581 square feet at ATME-I 2001.

“The requests that we’re seeing are for smaller space in general — not a whole lot smaller, but we knew from the get-go that for us to be able to put both of those shows in a consolidated format, we were either going to be looking at a lot of temporary space or we were going to be looking at the market dictating the exhibitors would need a little less space,” Mullins said. “We’re seeing a variety of requests. It really goes across the board.”

The quadrennial ATME-I has been split into two cycles since 1976, but a consolidated industry and, in turn, flagging attendance at recent cycles brought organizers to conclude that the event should be merged again. So, the 2004 show will combine the yarn and fiber with the fabric and finishing sectors.

“One of the challenges that we’ve seen in putting together those two split shows is that, from a priority standpoint, exhibitors that have been in Hall C may now be in Hall D because we’ve split up by hall the type of machinery,” he said.

Assignments are as follows, Mullins said: Hall A, finishing equipment; Hall B, knitting equipment; Hall C, weaving equipment; and Hall D, yarn prep and fiber manufacturing equipment.

“We’re having to move some exhibitors around, looking at some of their requests, and that has slowed down the process,” he said.

The Palmetto Expo Center, which is now owned by the City of Greenville and operated by national facility management company SMG, could get a facelift by 2004, Mullins added.

New this time around will be a two-tiered pricing range for exhibitors, he said. Cost of exhibit space before October 1 of this year will be $25 a square foot; after October 1, the price will increase to $28 a square foot.

“That two-tiered space rate and really the deposit required, which is less than we had before, came about because of the production cycle more than anything else,” Mullins said. “When we successfully reached the decision last summer with ATMA about the ’04 show and the ’06 show, we wanted to make sure that we got the word out and got a jump-start on producing the show.

“But that potential cycle was going to be eight or nine months sooner than we would normally mail applications. So at that point we looked at doing the two-tier rate, which I think has been very successful. And we’re now at the point, 30 months prior to the start of that exhibition, when we would have normally been mailing applications.”

The 2004 show again will be presented with the Knitted Arts Exhibition-Fabric, sponsored by the Knitted Textile Association.

Staff-wise, Textile Hall Corp. is now operating with a “much-reduced” staff of four full-time employees and maintains offices at the Expo Center, Mullins said.

“We have access now to a number of part-time and potential contract employees, so we’re going to be looking at the production of ATME-I 2004 in a little different way,” he said. “We’ll be looking at some outsourcing possibilities, some partnering possibilities and I think what that will allow us to do is use our resources in the production and promotion of that exhibition much more so than in the past, when it went for more overhead and support of the corporate structure of THC.

“We want to put those dollars to work where they will do the most good for you, the exhibitors, and ultimately the visitors,” he said.

From the visitors’ side, organizers plan to increase their promotional efforts compared to past exhibits, Mullins said. Planners intend to put more money into promoting the show and will take a more comprehensive approach to marketing, he said.

“We’re going to concentrate more of our resources on outsourcing and to partnering, putting those dollars to work promoting this event far more than we have in the past,” he said. “Obviously, the advertising/direct mail that you’ve seen in the past will continue, but with the extensive use of the Web site (being developed), you’ll also see the possibility of sponsorship at other industry events, participation in trade shows, much more communication with the media on a media relations program and also much more communication and partnering with both ATMA, their members and with exhibitors across the board.”

Mullins added that research shows that more than 50 percent of trade show visitors attend because an exhibitor invited them. “So we want to work closer with our exhibitor base in deciding what those target areas are and how we can best promote that event to potential attendees.”

Also related to promotional efforts, organizers plan to do more market research, trying to determine where attendees are and what their needs are as the textile industry “reinvents” itself, he said.

“You’re going to see some new thoughts, some new processes in both the exhibits as well as in the promotion of the event,” Mullins said. “Again, at this point, we feel good.”

THA

Week of May 20, 2002

THA elects leadership

CHARLOTTE, NC — The Hosiery Association (THA) recently elected new officers for the new membership year, beginning June 1.

These individuals were elected on April 24-25 during the group’s 97th Annual Meeting and Convention at The Crowne Plaza Resort at Hilton Head Island, SC.

THA chairman is Kevin Toomey, president and CEO of Golden Lady/Kayser-Roth Corporation in Greensboro, NC.

Meanwhile, Charles Cole, president and owner of Alabama Footwear, Inc. of Fort Payne, AL, was named first vice chairman. Fritz Schulte, vice president of sales and marketing for Acme McCrary Corporation, Asheboro, NC, was elected second vice chairman.

Toomey has established the following the goals for the association for 2002-03:
• increase membership to enable the association to be economically viable and to pursue discretionary projects;
• develop an understanding and acceptance of the role and purpose of the THA and that of its regional chapters; and
• create a viable organizational structure for the future.
Selecting the theme “Focus and Strengthen,” Toomey said he believes that it is important to focus on the priorities of the membership as a whole and strengthen the support, the participation and the leadership of the association.

“These goals are not ones that I will achieve individually, but rather ones that will be achieved collectively, through the efforts of those who work in all businesses that contribute to the success of the industry,” Toomey said. “I firmly believe that if we can accomplish these goals, we will have an association that is viable for the future and one that provides meaningful services.

“I am pleased to be associated with this industry and am looking forward to the opportunity of helping transition our association so it continues to meet the needs of its membership.”

Toomey joined Gulf and Western Industries in 1974 and moved on to Kayser-Roth of the McLaurin Footwear Division in 1978. He also held positions as controller for No Nonsense® Fashions, Inc. and vice president of Strategic Planning and Acquisitions for Kayser-Roth, vice president for the Sock Group, the Food/Drug/Mass Group and vice president and general sales for the Department & Specialty Store Group.

Prior to his being named president and CEO, Toomey was vice president of sales and marketing for the Food/Drug/Mass side of the business.

He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from St. Bonaventure and a master’s degree in business administration from Syracuse University. Cole served as co-chairperson in 1992 of National Hosiery Week in Alabama and served as president of the Alabama Chapter of THA in 1995. Cole is a member of the Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce, the Business Council of Alabama and the Alabama Textile Manufacturers Association.

He is a graduate of the University of Alabama with a degree in industrial management.

During his career in industry, he has been employed by Texas Instruments in Dallas; Kings-berry Homes in Fort Payne; and was manager for 10 years of Metal Deck, Inc. (now Wheeling Corrugating Company) in Fort Payne. Since 1983, Cole has owned and operated Alabama Footwear in Fort Payne.

Cole is a former member and officer of the Fort Payne Lions Club. He is a member of the Fort Payne Kiwanis Club and currently serves on the board of directors of Compass Bank in Fort Payne.

Schulte served in the Banking Officer Training Program from 1974-1977 as part of Sparkasse (Bank) in Gurgsteinfurt, Germany and went on to receive a master’s in economics, concentrating on finance and tax law, from College Muenster.

After arriving in the United States, Schulte served as president and CEO of Chic Hosiery of Charlotte, NC, from 1981-1991. From 1992-93, he was vice president of operations for Sheffield Industries in Miami, and spent the following five years as managing partner of Vision Legwear LLC, which merged with Acme in 2001.

THA staff officers include: president, Sally F. Kay; and vice president and assistant secretary, Sheila M. Simpson. Serving hosiery and related industries since 1905, THA represents the interests of domestic and international companies that produce all types of men’s, women’s and children’s hosiery, as well as those companies that provide supplies and services to the industry. Its members produce and market about 90 percent of all the hosiery sold in the United States.

The mission of the THA is to support its members worldwide and promote the hosiery industry by serving as the central resource for industry information and education, providing a conduit for resolving industry issues and functioning as the voice of common industry concerns.

It operates regional chapters in areas of high density for hosiery manufacturing activity, including Alabama, North Carolina, the Northeast, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

Polymer Group seeks protection

Week of May 20, 2002

Nonwovens maker latest to file Ch. 11

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC — Nonwovens fabrics producer Polymer Group, Inc. (PGI) Monday joined the list of textile and related companies seeking court shelter from creditors.

The company and 20 domestic subsidiaries filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Columbia, SC, after failing to win concessions from certain creditors.

PGI said it has received commitments for up to $125 million in debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing from a group of lenders led by JPMorgan Chase. That financing will be used to fund post-petition operating expenses and to meet supplier and employee obligations, the company said.

Polymer Group’s international operations and joint ventures are excluded from the filing, the firm added.

The company said it has received support for the major elements of the reorganization from its existing bank group and the holder of more than two- thirds of its outstanding bonds to implement the reorganization.

PGI added that it expects to eliminate more than $550 million in debt through the reorganization. In addition, the company has a commitment for up to $75 million in the form of a new money investment from CSFB Global Opportunities Partners, L.P., a New York-based investment fund.

“We are committed to completing our reorganization as quickly as possible and we are targeting emergence in the third quarter of 2002,” said Jerry Zucker, chairman, president and CEO. “We expect that the restructuring process will generally have no impact on the company’s ability to fulfill its obligations to its customers and employees.”

In connection with the filing, PGI Tuesday announced that it has terminated its offer to exchange its 9 percent senior subordinated notes due 2007 and its 8-3/4 percent senior subordinated notes due 2008.

Through “first-day” motions, Polymer Group requested that the court authorize certain actions, including entering into DIP financing arrangements, continuing wages and benefits to employees without interruption and permitting the company to pay certain pre-petition obligations to various businesses that are integral to its operations.

PGI said it planned to submit a reorganization plan within 10 business days of its bankruptcy filing.

TQCA

Week of May 20, 2002

TQCA holds spring event

By Devin Steele

HARRISBURG, NC — Charles L. Little Jr., president of the Yarn Division of Mount Vernon Mills, Greenville, SC, and president of the American Yarn Spinners Association, gave the keynote address during the Textile Quality Control Association’s (TQCA) Spring Conference recently.

The event took place at the Speedway Club at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

In his remarks, Little noted some of the problems that have faced the domestic textile industry recently, including the strong dollar, and that the climate in Washington is for free trade. As such, he encouraged audience members to become more involved politically.

“For us to have our numbers heard, it really requires that we take the initiative ourselves,” he said.

Long-term industry survivors will have four common attributes, he added. They will: be financially strong, be savvy marketers, understand consumer needs and control manufacturing with advanced technology.

“We’re evolving as an industry and purely trying to drive down costs,” Little said, “and being manufacturing-driven does not guarantee success.”

Little also talked about his company and some of the initiatives it is taking to ensure its viability.

Election of officers also took place during the meeting. Allen Little of CIS Graphics was re-elected president, while David Witt of Springs Industries and Norma Keyes of Cotton Incorporated were elected first vice president and vice president of industry relations, respectively.

Voted in to serve on the board were David Perkinson, Bowling Green Spinning; Lan Brady, Cone Mills; David Austin, National Textiles LLC; Roger Britton, Wellman, Inc.; Sam Cain, Springs Industries; Mike Honeycutt, Lawson-Hemphill Sales, Inc.; Doris Bennett, National Textiles LLC; Bill Ellington, Harriet & Henderson Yarns; Anton Wilson, Target Corp.; Ray Shearin, Wellman, Inc.; and Krishna Parachuru, Georgia Tech.

AYSA

Week of May 20, 2002

AYSA to hold marketing seminar

HARRISBURG, NC — The American Yarn Spinners Association will host its annual Marketing Seminar Tuesday at the Speedway Club at Lowe’s Motor Speedway here.

The program will feature a panel discussion with the ITMF Spinners Committee. Members of that committee include Ertekin Ashaboglu and Kenan Koc of Turkey, Romano Bonadei of Italy; Jung Soo Kim of Korea; Andrew Macdonald of Brazil; Walter Simeoni of South Africa; Herwig Strolz of Switzerland; and Basile Toutoungi of Canada. Jim Conner, former executive vice president of AYSA, will moderate.

Speakers include newly appointed U.S. Special Textile Negotiator David M. Spooner; Norman Gelber, president, Customs and Trade Services, Inc.; and John Silva, chief economist with Wachovia Securities.

Cost is $75. To register, call (704) 824-3522.

MULTI-STATE TEXTILE SUMMIT

Week of May 20, 2002

House members from NC defend TPA vote

PART 8

Editor’s note: In this, part 8 of our coverage of the Multi-State Textile Summit at Gaston College in Dallas, NC, on March 22, excerpted remarks from three members of Panel III are published here. Panelists covered are three Republican U.S. House Representatives from North Carolina, all of whom voted for the trade promotion authority measure in December. They include Cass Ballenger, Sue Myrick and Robin Hayes.

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.

Cass Ballenger

After 16 years of Congress ... I can say the textile industry has been ignored. And they’ve had the secretary of whatever, who would say, “we know you’ve got an unlevel playing field. We’ll do something for you and we want to help.” And that’s the last we ever heard of it, and I’m talking Republican and Democratic administrations, it didn’t make any difference.

In my considered opinion, this is the first time we’ve had an administration that says it’s going to help and in many ways they already have. I’ll use one example: The banks no longer will come to the textile industry and, in fact, generally speaking, will not even let it in the room because they don’t want to lend it any money.

And, so, the tax-law security pact that we passed and the President signed a week or so ago does give the opportunity for companies that made money five years ago to apply the money that they mean to pay taxes on, to bring that forward and to use as a way of helping themselves out of some of the problems they’re in.

I think we’ve got an administration in Washington that really cares — and Chuck (Hayes of Guilford Mills) mentioned the Secretary of Commerce (Donald Evans). Most of all of us have sat down with him and they’re really trying.

Sue Myrick

All of us have been working on this issue for some time — a period of years. So the concern is very great and, as Cass said, we’re finally getting some help for the first time from the administration. (President Bush) recognizes the severity of the problem and seeking solutions to help us in the form of national emergency grants, economic development grants ... things that we can use directly in our district.

Water, sewer, infrastructure ... we need that in the area. This is my district, by the way, for those of you who do not know. And the Commerce grants will be used for that. I mean, we can actually put the money on the ground and, so it will help.

There’s also additional money for extending unemployment benefits for the workers. Naturally we want to create jobs — that’s our primary goal — but we’re also putting together help for the workers that need it right now ... putting money into job training programs. And yesterday the Labor Department sent over a list of what is going to be a supplemental appropriations bill, which is going to be coming to us very shortly.

And I wanted to mention a couple of those because, again, it hits directly at some of the things that you all have said you needed and things we need here locally. There’s $110 million in last year’s budget for dislocated workers. That’s going to be put back in. So that’s money that will come to the local communities.

There’s $40 million for additional funding for the community adjustment assistance program and that’s to create the new jobs in counties that have been hardest hit and, of course, all of our states qualify for that. And there’s $550 additional money put into the national emergency grant program.

Now all of this is in addition to what is in the budget that we’re currently doing and there are increased dollars in this budget to address these areas, as well. But we work together in what is a coalition and we want to do whatever we can to help.

Robin Hayes

The people here have been very hard hit and there’s only one issue that we’re dealing with today and that’s people — their families, their jobs, their financial security. I’ve talked with a number of them who were outside of the building. They were holding signs. People are hurting. That’s the issue. Everything else is subordinate to dealing with that issue.

Chuck Hayes, I was introduced yesterday, as you remember, by Van May, the person who will take your place (as chairman of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute). He introduced me as “215.” George Bush was 41. George W. Bush is 43. A lot of people see me as “215.” That’s the 215 that was the vote on TPA.

Folks, trade promotion authority, whether you like it or not — many people don’t, many do — the issue is an opportunity to deal with the problems that are confronting our people.

It came our way on December 6. I voted with the president after extracting an agreement, along with the help of these folks, to meet the needs of our people. Here’s the list of everything that you’ve heard discussed today, plus many other things. (Holds up piece of paper.) It is up to us, the people in this room, these governors, the members of Congress and you in the industry and others to make sure that when these issues come around in the Senate that we get everything we’ve asked for and that we help our people here in the textile industry.

We can either maintain the status quo and do nothing or we can seize this opportunity and do something for our people and I’m committed to doing something and I know you all are, too.

TPA

Week of May 20, 2002

Senate considering amendments to TPA

WASHINGTON — The trade promotion authority (TPA) debate took another twist in the Senate early last week, as an amendment that would water down that presidential power was proposed.

Sens. Mark Dayton (D-MN) and Larry E. Craig (R-ID) offered up the amendment, which would allow lawmakers to challenge provisions of trade deals that seek to change U.S. trade remedy laws, particularly antidumping laws and others aimed at protecting U.S. companies from “unfair” trade practices. Such provisions would be subject to line-by-line modification, while the rest of any proposed trade pact would follow traditional fast-track, up-or-down-vote procedures by Congress.

The Bush Administration would favor vetoing the legislation if the Dayton-Craig amendment were included and is therefore developing alternative amendments, trade officials were quoted as saying.

The TPA measure is part of a bundled trade package that also includes extending preferential trade treatment with Andean countries and providing health coverage for employees displaced by international trade agreements.

Debate was expected to continue on this and other amendments through last week.

The U.S. textile industry generally opposes trade promotion authority, which many of its leaders contend has led to trade laws, such as NAFTA, they say have harmed the industry. But some have supported its passage in the House in December after a list of promises aimed at protecting domestic textiles were made by Cabinet officials.

Farm bill

Week of May 20, 2002

Bush signs farm bill

WASHINGTON — President Bush Monday signed a six-year farm bill that is expected to benefit the U.S. cotton industry and, in effect, U.S. textile manufacturing.

Kenneth Hood, president of the National Cotton Council of America, and other cotton industry representatives witnessed the signing of the bill into law, which will provide billions of dollars to farmers.

For the rest of this month, the NCC is co-sponsoring a series of meetings across the Cotton Belt that will provide the latest information regarding the bill’s provisions and identify the issues that should be addressed as USDA begins implementation.

For more information about these meetings, visit www.cotton.org.

BRIEFS

Week of May 20, 2002

Japan-based company to open plant in SC

WATEREE, SC — Kawashima, a Japanese textile company, plans to move into a manufacturing facility here and hire about 100 people.

The plant, which will dye products, will be the company’s first in the U.S.

Kawashima makes textiles for the home furnishings and automobile industries. Among products are curtains and carpets for offices, hotels, theaters, airplanes and luxury passenger liners, along with artistic tapestries.

The Kyota, Japan-based company chose this site near Columbia, SC, over the former Nova Yarns building in Eden, NC, a Rockingham County town that has been devastated by textile and apparel losses in recent years.

Sportswear maker closing three plants

Holloway Sportswear, Inc., a Sidney, OH-based apparel manufacturer, said it is closing Louisiana plants in Olla, Many and Ville Platte, putting about 240 people out of work.

The company closed a plant in Winnfield, LA, last year and now operates only one facility in the state, a leather and wool factory with about 100 employees in Simmesport.

The jobs will be relocated to Mexico, the Middle East and other foreign countries, according to reports.

The company manufactures team uniforms and other sportswear.

Color Solutions, Inc. added to DyStar fold

CHARLOTTE, NC — Dye supplier DyStar took over the business operations of Color Solutions, Inc., based here, on May 1.

“This step expands our service for the textile supply chain,” said Dr. Clemens Willée of DyStar’s general management. “By issuing color standards, we satisfy rising demand for standardization to facilitate communication between producers and customers.”

Color Solutions, founded in 1999, supplies color standards for the textile industry. Its customers are mainly retail organizations, producers of brand-name goods and purchasing organizations that have textiles manufactured around the world.

Color Solutions works out customized color standards on the basis of customers’ technical, commercial and ecological requirements.

“Becoming part of the DyStar Group gives us access to the extensive experience and specialist expertise of the market leader in textile dyes,” said John Darsey, former co-owner of Color Solutions, Inc. “Through its worldwide presence, DyStar can support the implementation of color standards in textile mills.”

The company will operate as an independent service provider under the name Color Solutions International, Inc.

Bankrupt Texfi sells machinery, equipment

COLUMBUS, OH — SB Capital Group announced that the partnership of SB Capital Group, Crescent Commercial, Rabin Worldwide and Coker International has bought remaining machinery and equipment from bankrupt textile firm Texfi Industries for $2.4 million.

A liquidation of equipment will be taking place over the next six months.

“We are thrilled to have been the high bidder on Texfi,” said Richard Kruse, vice president of the Auction & Appraisal Division at SB Capital.

SB Capital Group is a provider of asset recovery consulting services and a purchaser of assets, including inventory, equipment, receivables and real property.

DM&E products included in lines

SHELBY, NC — Tow cutters, cutter reels and tension control stands manufactured by DM&E Corporation, based here, will be included in four Neumag polyester fiber production lines sold to Reliance Industries, based in Bombay, India.

The cutters will be of the 90 Series, the largest of the line, and the tensionstands will be the 310 series. Installation is slated for late this year.

DM&E equipment was selected because of its high quality and its compatibility with the highly regarded quality of Neumag equipment, according to company officials. The sale was handled through Neumag GmbH. Future DM&E/Neumag collaborations are anticipated, DM&E said.

Reliance, with plants in major cities throughout India, produces polyester fiber.

MarChem merges Missouri operations

NEW HAVEN, MO — After 15 years, the production operations of MarChem Coated Fabrics Division, St. Louis, have been merged into MarChem Coated Fabrics, Inc., based here. About six jobs will be added as a result.

Wil Heiliger, vice president and general manager of the New Haven Plant, said the merger will increase manufacturing efficiencies and generate a greater product mix.

“The New Haven operation will now have a much wider range of production capabilities, including coating and laminating,” he said. “This broader and more vertical range of services will strengthen MarChem’s established position in the marketplace and in some instances, our customers will now be able to rely upon us as a single-source supplier.”

The company has reconstructed and modernized an additional fabric coating line at New Haven and added a high-tech, heated, double-belt laminator.

New products now being offered include industrial work glove cuffings, work and safety apparel fabrics, laminated restaurant supply materials, neoprene-coated products, cork computer gasket materials, stabilized carbon fiber materials, incontinence fabrics, pressure-sensitive backed fabrics and synthetic leather materials.

Gehring to move from NY offices

NEW YORK — Gehring Textiles, Inc. and its Militex, Inc. Division are moving their offices and showroom from opposite ends of the Empire State Building to Garden City Park, Long Island, NY.

The move is expected to take place by the end of the month, according to George G. “Skip” Gehring Jr., president.

Family-owned Gehring Textiles is a warp knit producer of industrial and technical fabrics, as well as fabrics for athletic wear. It operates a knitting plant, Helmont Mills, in St. Johnsville, NY, and a dyehouse in Dolgeville, NY.

The Long Island office will cover 5,000 square feet of usable space, compared to 3,700 square feet in Manhattan.

Gehring/Militex produces such technical fabrics as ballistic cloth, high-strength loop products, fire-fighting material, geotextiles, composites for fabric reinforcement, slash-resistance fabrics, bed pads and material for soft-sided luggage and backpacks. For apparel, it makes meshes and nets for athletic wear.

EDUCATION AND RESEARCH

Week of May 20, 2002

Philadelphia U. to host digital fabric conference

PHILADELPHIA — On Monday, June 3, Philadelphia University will welcome design professionals from around the world as the school hosts The Digital Printing Conference. The Conference runs until Wednesday, June 5, and covers the entire spectrum of digital printing.

Everything from image manipulation to print heads and their functions to color space and digital color management will be addressed, providing a practical knowledge of inkjet fabric printing for anyone entering the field or seeking an efficient update of the latest technology.

The three-day conference costs $350/person or $50/student with valid student ID. For a full itinerary of the conference and to register, go online to www.philau.edu/training/new_page_8.htm, or call 215-951-2900.

Missouri students learning e-commerce

COLUMBIA, MO — Students in the University of Missouri-Columbia’s Department of Textile and Apparel Management (TAM) are learning to meet an e-commerce challenge.

TAM majors in the e-commerce applications class have developed a new department Web site and e-commerce site, the Bengal Boutique (www.missouri.edu/~tam).

Run as a business, the goals of this project are to teach students about the nature of an e-commerce business and to develop a scholarship fund for e-commerce students in TAM. Visitors may purchase products such as College of Human Environmental Sciences T-shirts designed specifically for this project.

IFF announces scholarship winner

WASHINGTON, DC — The Industrial Fabrics Foundation (IFF) recently awarded its 2002 Student Scholarship Award to Philadelphia University textile engineering student Robert Graziano.

The award provides $2,000 to an outstanding undergraduate student who currently is enrolled in a college or university textile program.

Graziano, a junior, is studying traditional engineering sciences, including textile-specific courses such as fiber science, yarn processing, weaving, knitting and nonwoven processing, mechanics of yarns and fabrics, composite materials, marketing and economics.

EDUCATION AND RESEARCH

Week of May 20, 2002

NC State studying suture procedures

MEDICAL TEXTILES

RALEIGH, NC — “The life of the patient hangs by a thread.” With this phrase, Dr. Bhupender S. Gupta, professor of textile engineering, chemistry and science at N.C. State University, explained the importance of his work designing more secure sutures for surgical procedures.

Closing wounds by placing a knot in a suture loop is a tedious process. The surgeon must make sure the knot won’t come undone before the tissues are healed. In critical surgeries such as open-heart procedures, a slipped suture can be life-threatening and could mean a dangerous emergency surgery for a patient.

Surgeons typically tie sutures with four of five “throws,” or knot loops, to ensure security. For an open-heart procedure that involves many sutures, this is a time-consuming process.

In addition to being time-consuming, four-to-five throw knots have other disadvantages. They present more foreign body material during healing, the patient must be kept under anesthesia linger during suturing and patients will have more pain from a bulky knot.

According to Gupta, surgeons want to “tie a secure knot in the shortest time with the least material.” A knot with two throws would be very efficient if a way could be found to make the structure secure. Gupta decided to accept this challenge, and his research group has devised a way to make a two-throw knot fully secure using lasers.

Gupta’s graduate students tied hundreds of knots using synthetic suture threads, then exposed the knots to carbon dioxide laser beams of varying intensities for various time periods. By examining the knots using an electron microscope, the researchers can see which of the fibers are melted into a secure unit.

Using the lasers for this purpose is tricky, because the goal is to melt the surface only enough to cause bonding of the fibers without damage. Too much laser exposure can cause the fibers to become brittle and fragile, and the beam must be narrow and fine enough to hit only the desired area of the knot. By testing the variables of time and energy, the researchers can determine the optimum amount of each to create a perfect, secure, two-throw knot.

Gupta’s research has shown the feasibility of this technique, but the technology needs to be refined so the laser beam is narrower and finer. “At this point,” said Gupta, “industry will have to come in and optimize the procedure.”

Existing lasers present in hospitals may be able to be modified by moving the lens arrangement and diverting the beam. One early use of the new suture technique may be in eye surgeries, because lasers are commonly used for these procedures already.

The importance of medical textiles expands beyond suture techniques. According to Gupta, textiles can be formed to have the same characteristics as tissues. They can stretch and have strength and elasticity. They can have porosity that aids in healing.

In the future, for instance, arteries and veins may be made from textiles. “We are learning to engineer the structures of human body organs,” said Gupta.

The field is interdisciplinary and requires collaboration among faculty from several disciplines, in particular engineering, life sciences and medicine. The benefit to patients of this kind of medical textile research in enormous.

Fiscals

Week of May 20, 2002

A&E takes charge related to merger

CHARLOTTE, NC — American & Efird recorded an operating profit of $3.6 million, excluding a $7.9 million charge, in the second quarter, parent company Ruddick Corporation announced.

The charge was related to the consolidation of the industrial thread dyeing and finishing operations of the Gastonia, NC, Dyeing & Finishing Plant with the Mt. Holly, NC, Dyeing & Finishing Plant.

Operating profit was $8 million for the same quarter of 2001.

A&E’s sales of $70.7 million were down 18 percent from the $86.2 million for the same quarter last year.

“Business conditions for A&E have held fairly steady over the past several weeks and we have seen improvement at our foreign operations,” said Thomas W. Dickson, president of Ruddick. “We are cautiously optimistic that this trend will continue throughout the third fiscal quarter.”

Dixie turns profit, sells extrusion plant

CHATTANOOGA, TN — Carpet and rug manufacturer The Dixie Group, Inc. reported net income of $496,000, or 4 cents per share, for the first quarter.

Comparatively, the company lost $2.7 million, or 24 cents, in the same period last year.

Sales were $123.3 million, compared to $133.1 million for the first 2001 quarter.

The company also announced that it signed a definitive agreement to sell its Calhoun, GA, extrusion manufacturing facility to CAF Extrusion, Inc., a subsidiary of Collins & Aikman Floorcoverings, Inc., for $30.8 million. The transaction will include a three-year supply agreement with the purchaser.

Also, Dixie said it has accepted a commitment from a new lender to refinance its senior credit facility. The new, $150 million credit agreement is expected to be finalized this month.

“The improved operating results reflect the changes we have made in our cost structure over the past year and a half, particularly in our North Georgia operations,” said Daniel K. Frierson, chairman and CEO. “Our carpet business started out very soft in January, began to pick up during the last eight weeks of the quarter and is now running well ahead of prior-year levels.”

VF repurchased 1 million shares

GREENSBORO, NC — VF Corp. repurchased 1 million shares of its common stock in the first quarter, according to its quarterly report.

The company paid for $42 million for the shares.

Elbit Vision Systems narrows loss in 1Q

YOQNEAM, ISRAEL — Elbit Vision Systems Ltd. lost $300,000, or 3 cents per share, in the first quarter, versus a loss of $600,000, or 7 cents, for the comparable period last year.

The company, which makes automatic optical inspection and monitoring systems for the textile and the nonwoven industries, reported sales of $1.9 million, from $2 million in the first quarter of 2001.

Textile News Index