ATME-I survey answers

Week of May 21, 2001

Responses to an STN survey about the American Textile Machinery Exhibition-International conflict are in and results are overwhelming.

Of 65 respondents, 75 percent (49) said that the trade show should consolidate into one exhibition, with 20 percent (13) saying it should remain in its current, two-leg format. Five percent (3) were counted neither for nor against consolidation because either their answers weren’t clear, they said they weren’t sure or they said their opinion would depend on various factors.

By a wider margin, 87 percent (57) of survey takers said the show should stay in Greenville, SC, its home for many years, while 8 percent (5) said it should move to another city. On that question, too, 5 percent (3) were placed in the “depends/not sure/answer not clear” category. The survey was published in STN’s last ATME-I daily edition, which was distributed on the show floor on April 27, and again in the following regular edition.

Obviously, results aren’t scientific. But, with 65 responses, we hope they will at least serve to take the general pulse of a segment of the industry. Indepth responses are published in this week's edition.

ATMA celebrates

'A Century of Excellence'

By Ron Copsey

BILOXI, MS — More than 200 members and their guests attended the 100th annual meeting of the Alabama Textile Manufacturers Association (ATMA) recently at The Grand Casino-Bayview Hotel here.

Under the theme “A Century of Excellence,” the three-day event featured several national speakers, plus Alabama’s 2000 Textile Citizen of the Year. The meeting included numerous recreational opportunities and concluded with conferees attended Michael Flatley’s “Lord of the Dance.”

ATMA President Tommy Johnson, president and CEO of Russell Yarns and senior vice president of Russell Corporation, in his address said, “our meeting theme, ‘A Century of Excellence,’ can be a vision that talks about our future. In that vision we imagine the next 100 years will be the best we have ever seen and it will be the best because:

• we will learn how to do business in the world economy;
• we will lose our fear of developing countries;

David Seagraves, past director of the Alabama Textile Manufacturers Association, holds a commissioned print that commemorates ATMA’s 100th anniversary. Several past presidents of the association, along with Director Rebecca Camerio, join Seagraves, a fellow former president, for a shot during the group’s annual meeting. (Front row, L-R) Tommy Johnson, Russell Corp.; Bill Henry, Johnston Industries; Seagraves; Cary Baker, Shaw Industries; and Jim Bouler, Vanity Fair Intimates. (Back row, L-R) Bernie Wedge, Elastic Corp. of America; Bruce Lanier Jr., Wehadkee Yarn Mills; Rufus Pearson, Pearson Industries; and Camerio.

• we will realize that more than 90 percent of the world’s population is outside of the United States and as their economies grow, they become markets;
• we will remember that the rest of the world still likes American-made products and brands — it is a status symbol for them;
• we will remember the way we did things in the past, but will recognize we must learn to do things differently; and
• we will become less afraid of change and eventually embrace it.”

According to Johnson, ATMA, itself, is changing in order to meet the needs of the next 100 years.

Johnson indicated that ATMA has talked to legislators, government officials and member companies and asked them if it should stay the same, merge into another organization of manufacturers or even join another state’s textile association. They were also asked if ATMA should remain, but change its focus.

“Invariably the majority told us to stay a state textile organization because we had a very recognizable name in Montgomery,” Johnson said.

ATMA plans to have representatives go into the various areas of the state and have lunch or dinner and roundtable discussions with legislators in member company districts. “Hopefully, this will give member companies a chance to talk about the issues that concern us and at the same time give legislators the chance to tell us of their problems, concerns and plans,” Johnson said.

In the news ...

Week of May 21, 2001

Jenkins put employees first in sale

By Alfred Dockery

GASTONIA, NC — In October of last year, 88-year-old Jenkins Metal Corporation, based here, ceased operations.

The slowing textile industry had weakened the company and an alleged embezzlement closed it down. In February, the company had an auction to sell off its assets.

Southern Textile News recently met with R.B. Jenkins, who now works in sales at C.L. Rabb, Inc., a Gastonia-based cardboard packaging company, to discuss the fall of his family-owned business and its aftermath.

While Jenkins Metal Corp. is no more, many of the company’s employees still use the expertise they developed there to service the textile industry. Before Jenkins Metal closed, Jenkins spun off the company’s textile replacement parts business to New Era Textiles, Gastonia, NC, and its air filtration business to D.A. Moore Co., Concord, NC.

Keep them working

In both cases, Jenkins made sure that as many of his employees as possible were offered jobs with these companies. “I wanted to see my people keep their jobs,” Jenkins said. “It was important to me.”

Several engineers and service technicians went to D.A. Moore with the air systems business. This was the first business that Jenkins sold, since it is so capital intensive.

The textile replacement parts business was sold later. Jenkins had hoped to keep the company’s third business, custom fabrication, operating on a smaller scale, but that wasn’t possible.

Erhardt + Leimer subsidiary expands

SPARTANBURG, SC — Erhardt + Leimer, Inc., a leading manufacturer of web control systems, announced that its newest subsidiary, Duncan Technologies, has reported significant first-year growth and, as a result, has moved to a new 20,000-square-foot facility in Duncan, SC.

The newest member of the Erhardt + Leimer group of companies, Duncan Technologies was created in 1999 in response to the ever-changing requirements of web process industries. It began operations in the spring of last year.

Duncan Technologies designs and builds entry and exit systems for virtually any web process. It also offers special machinery design and construction, machinery rebuild, design and installation of machine drives and control and design and assembly of electrical panels.

Pillowtex Corp. to cut 780 more jobs

KANNAPOLIS, NC — Pillowtex Corporation announced Wednesday that it will close a sheet manufacturing plant here and a towel yarn manufacturing operation in Columbus, GA, eliminating a total of 780 jobs in the process.

In addition, the company said it plans to scale back towel production in Kannapolis.

Pillowtex blamed the continuing decline in market conditions and said it made the moves as part of its restructuring under Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The restructuring eliminates the jobs of about 590 employees here and about 190 employees in Columbus.

“We regret that economic conditions beyond our immediate control have forced the difficult decision to close or scale back these operations and are sensitive to the personal impact it will have on our employees, their families and the surrounding communities,” said Bob Haase, Pillowtex’s executive director for operations. “However, we must ensure the future viability of our overall business by taking these difficult, but deliberate steps. We believe that the actions we are taking will allow us to service our customers more effectively and, in turn, improve the company’s viability in the very competitive home textiles industry.”

The home textiles manufacturer filed a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code on November 14.

Haase said the restructuring eliminates excess manufacturing capacity brought about by declining towel and sheet sales and will allow the company to better align its production capacity to sales. For example, he said, net sales were down more than 16 percent in this year’s first quarter as compared to the first quarter of 2000.

“Since last November, employees have undergone frequent periods of temporary layoffs. This reorganization should allow the company to operate on more predictable schedules,” Haase said.

Daetwyler forms affiliate company

HUNTERSVILLE, NC — Max Daetwyler Corporation, based here, announced that it has formed a new affiliate company, Screen Tech, to distribute top-quality rotary screens to the textile industry.

Manufactured using the latest technology and quality to meet the high standards needed for today’s textile printing industry, these nickel screens will be manufactured in all repeat sizes, widths and meshes required for this printing market.

Knitting machine maker to oust 70

MONROE, NC — Knitting machine maker Vanguard Supreme will lay off about 70 employees representing about 25 percent of its work force, due to slower orders, the company said Tuesday.

The layoffs were to occur Friday, May 18. The company is owned by New York-based Monarch Knitting Machinery Corp.


Week of May 21, 2001

We hear you and we’re here for you

FROM THE “for what it’s worth” department, responses are in from our survey related to the brouhaha surrounding the American Textile Machinery Exhibition-International trade show. General consensus: Consolidate — but don’t relocate.

Which is easier said than done.

The well-documented “controversy,” if we may call it that, centers around the issue of the Palmetto Expo Center. If the two-show cycle is merged into one — a sensible step given the dwindling attendance of recent ATME-I expos — the facility would not be large enough to accommodate the events, at least not in their current form, without expansion or the addition of temporary structures. So, moving the show to another venue, in another city, seems like a logical solution.

But hold on, many are saying, as you can read in survey responses printed on pages 8 and 9. Greenville is located in the heart of the domestic textile industry, they say. It is easily accessible to a majority of U.S. mills and their suppliers and moving the show would end up hurting the event rather than helping it, they believe.

Others are saying that the Expo Center may well be big enough to host the function in four years, considering the rapid rate of consolidation in the U.S. textile industry. But organizers can’t rely on estimates to determine the size and scope of the show in 2004 or 2005; they need to settle the issue soon, so planning and preparation can get under way post-haste.

Work is being done to that end. At the request of co-sponsor Textile Hall Corporation, a task force was formed to study a previously recommended plan of upgrading the Palmetto Expo Center. The other co-sponsor, the American Textile Machinery Association (ATMA) also is working on the matter, using a recent regional meeting as an open forum for members to discuss the issue.

PROPONENTS OF MOVING the show out of Greenville, SC, may argue that our survey proves little, whether 65 or 665 people responded. The wrong questions were asked and were asked of the wrong people, they may say. A sampling of opinion from merely “local” people (i.e. U.S. manufacturers and suppliers and those with business ties here) would obviously be skewed in favor of keeping the show at its present venue, they may imply.

They may add that a survey that is more global in scope and asks more specific questions would be more valuable to their cause — their cause being to produce a trade show more international in nature. Obviously, they believe that growth of the show depends on attracting more visitors from this hemisphere, as well as from other parts of the world — not from a rapidly shrinking pool of U.S. manufacturers.

And that point would be well taken. But the opinions of those with operations and offices on U.S. soil do count and should be carefully considered.

THAT’S WHY WE believe in the value of our survey. Some may wish that we would let the issue rest, preferring that it not be debated publicly. But our job, as a major voice in this industry, is to serve as a communications conduit for all concerned parties — to report facts, allow you to offer your opinion and to inject ours where appropriate.

Our objective is not to sway opinions, so much as it to serve this industry through this forum. Like you, we want what is best for the industry. Lively, unencumbered dialogue is imperative to attaining that goal.

We appreciate the feedback many of you have given us and encourage others to use this publication as a vehicle to get your message to the appropriate parties.

Your opinion does count.