Week of May 27, 2002

Suppliers see potential on technical side

ATLANTA — During the recent Techtextil North America trade show here, BASF representatives Karl Ott (L) and Bob Daniel Jr. (R) don firefighter turnout gear, one end use for the company’s heat- and flame-resistant Basofil fibers. Alan Handermann, along with a mannequin wearing apparel made from Basofil, are also pictured.
Photo by Devin Steele

Tech-Textil Part 3

By Devin Steele

ATLANTA — A.B. Carter, Inc. is among those suppliers to “traditional” textile manufacturers that have turned to the technical textile side of the industry to reach new markets.

That’s why the Gastonia, NC-based provider of a wide range of mill supplies and lab equipment exhibited at the Techtextil North America trade show at the Cobb Galleria Centre here recently, according to Henderson Wise, national marketing manager.

“We see this as a growth area, definitely,” he said. “It’s been a good show for us. We’ve seen a good cross-section of people. We are already doing business with some of the folks here, maybe from a distance out West. We have exhibited at the SAMPE (Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering) show in California for about 15 years, but this show is different.”

Fred Rankin, A.B. Carter’s vice president of textile sales, explained the difference.
“When you get out of the general textile industry and into the high-tech area, a lot of customers that we’re seeing here, we’ve never seen,” he said. “We may not normally call on them in the established textile territories.”

Among products A.B. Carter exhibited were a number of new-generation splicers that are able to splice high-performance yarns such as aramid, Wise said.

“We’ve made some improvements on some splicing equipment, where you have a higher strength on industrial high cords,” he said. “Some people have also brought some new yarns that we have not seen before and we’ve done some work on those, which has kept Carroll (Craft), our technician, busy.”

The company touted in particular its Code 124 and Code 4941A splicers. The Code 124 is made for continuous filament aramid and spectra fiber and is designed to splice yarns in the 800 to 8,000 denier range. The 4941A is made for long staple spun yarns and high-twist filament yarns, single & plied, and has a capacity for filament yarns of 100 to 3,000 denier.

BASF officials, meanwhile, reported good traffic, as well as “serious inquiries” at the show.

The company spotlighted its Basofil® fiber, a heat-and flame-resistant synthetic fiber used in such applications as home furnishings, aircraft seating and firefighter turnout gear.

“We’re continuing to look for new applications for our fiber,” said Robert L. Daniel Jr., national sales manager for Basofil who is based in Charlotte, NC. “The area that seems to be budding for us is this coming legislation for flammability standards in home furnishings, mattresses in particular. We think our product is particularly applicable to that. And we’ve been very happy with developments that are taking place and the interest shown.”

The combination of flame resistance and comfort makes Basofil fiber ideal for open-flame protection in mattresses and furniture, Daniel said. Several developed textile components allow CAL 129 and Boston IX-11 compliant mattress designs and CAL 133 compliant furniture designs to be manufactured, some without changing the manufacturing process, he added.

Among visitors, Jimmie Herndon, business manager of Rolling Brook Textiles, Kings Mountain, NC, said attending this show was important. His company manufactures sample fabrics and makes small production runs.

“The key to business in the textile industry is being diversified,” said Herndon, whose company also performs research and development services. “If you aren’t diversified and don’t have high quality, good customer service and quick turnaround, you are going to fall by the wayside.”

Rolling Brook, a small, specialty company, performs services for about 20 customers, Herndon said.

“However, our market opens up to many more customers because we are doing research and development work, meaning that what we create goes into a lot of mills,” he said.

Herndon, accompanied at the show by Weave Room Manager Flossie Hardin, also waxed philosophic about the future of the industry in this country.

“We are a nation of approximately 265 million people,” he said. “There is always going to be a need in this country for textiles, but it’s going to be more or less specialty textiles, and that’s what we’re primarily doing.”


Week of May 27, 2002

Lobbying coalition launches

WASHINGTON — During a press conference outside the Capitol here on May 14, the new lobbying coalition formed by Roger Milliken, Bruce Raynor and George Shuster unveiled more details of its plans to tackle the crisis in the U.S. textile and apparel industry.

The trio officially launched The American Textile Trade Action Coalition (ATTAC) at the event, held with members of the Congressional Textile Caucus.

Though he didn’t speak during the press conference, Milliken, chairman and CEO of Milliken & Co., Spartanburg, SC, stood with fellow ATTAC co-chairs Raynor, president of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE), and Shuster, president of Cranston Print Works, Cranston, RI.

In literature following the event, ATTAC revealed its mission statement and action steps, its stance on various legislative issues and a letter to President Bush. It also called for two Congressional studies aimed at educating lawmakers.

ATTAC’s mission is “to establish trade policy and other measures necessary for the U.S. fiber, textile and apparel industry to stabilize and grow, thereby preserving and creating critical American manufacturing jobs.”

“The textile industry provided nearly $36 million in compensation to workers in 2000 and employed 964,000 Americans,” Milliken said in a release. “Clearly, the U.S. textile industry is an industry worth saving. The United States must change its trade policy now.”

U.S. trade policy has cost the industry 675,000 jobs in the past seven years, according to ATTAC.

ATTAC also announced its legislative agenda:

• to block detrimental trade legislation such as trade promotion authority and the Andean Trade Preferences Act, which continued to be debated in the Senate last week;

• to urge President Bush to fulfill and enforce the commitments the White House made to members of Congress from textile states in December; and

• to offer a proactive legislative program to help the domestic textile industry and its employees.

U.S. Representatives Howard Coble of North Carolina, John Spratt of South Carolina, Charlie Norwood of Georgia and Virgil Goode of Virginia spoke in support of ATTAC.

“(U.S.) trade policy is not working,” Norwood said. “You can’t have free trade if it is not fair trade.”

Spratt and Coble, who co-chair the Congressional Textile Caucus, said they planned to seek signatures of lawmakers on a joint resolution urging the administration to “take all necessary measures ... to respond to the serious injury currently being experienced by the U.S. textile and apparel industry.”

Among steps included in the resolution:

• ensure vigorous enforcement of U.S. trade laws related to the trade practices resulting in damage to the U.S. textile and apparel industry, using all remedies available under these laws;

• ensure vigorous enforcement of current international trade agreements, including all existing safeguard remedies available to the industry under the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement;

• develop market-opening mechanisms that ensure equitable, reciprocal access for goods exported by the U.S. textile and apparel sector;

• deny requests from trading partners for further liberalization of the U.S. textile and apparel market above that already provided under existing international trade agreements; and

• ensure vigorous enforcement of existing quota and tariff regulations to prevent further illegal circumvention of the U.S. textile import restraint program.

In a letter to President Bush, the coalition called for the administration to begin to develop a long-term strategic outlook for the U.S. textile and apparel industry.

ATTAC said it will seek two government studies designed to update vital information regarding the industry, which it added will be valuable in its educational efforts to support its larger legislative/policy agenda.

The group said it would provide to Congressional Appropriations committees a request that the Bureau of Export Administration conduct a comprehensive study on the health, competitiveness and the contribution of the U.S. textile and apparel industry to the U.S. economy and, in particular, the U.S. armed forces; and a request that the Department of Labor conduct a comprehensive study on the composition (including past and present numbers and future projections) of the U.S. textile and apparel industry labor force, including the availability of training and textile-related engineering and manufacturing growth.

ATTAC did not indicate how many members have signed up for the coalition.

Senate trade bill

Week of May 27, 2002

Lawmakers move to aid industry

WASHINGTON — The House voted Wednesday to close a dyeing and finishing loophole in the Trade and Development Act of 2000, which includes trade preferences for Caribbean Basin countries and certain sub-Saharan Africa countries.

Under the legislation, fabrics were to be produced in the U.S. before being sent to other countries for sewing and then sent back to the U.S., duty-free, for retail sale. However, after these trade agreements were passed, Customs ruled that these fabrics did not necessarily have to be dyed/finished/printed in the U.S. to qualify for the duty-free status.

Many in the textile industry had argued that without the latter requirement, thousands of more U.S. jobs were in peril.

The bill, which passed 216 to 209, was added to a $31 billion emergency spending bill and also included similar requirements for fabric produced in the Andean countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Legislation aimed at renewing trade benefits with those Andean countries has already passed the House and was being debating in the Senate at press time.

In other moves Wednesday, the House passed a U.S. Customs funding bill to provide $9.5 million to add 72 customs agents to combat transshipped textile and apparel imports. The bill passed 327-101.

Reps. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Robin Hayes (R-NC) said these actions will help fulfill promises made by the Bush administration in exchange for their votes for trade promotion authority in December.

“Our textile industry is hurting and we have a clear choice — we can complain or we can work to something about it,” Hayes said. “I believe to do nothing is to accept the decline of this industry and job loss. Getting this provision enacted is the product of a lot of hard work, but 100,000 textile jobs may be saved by this effort.”

DeMint told The Washington Post: “It’s very big for textiles.”

Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) criticized the pro-textile provision related to the dyeing and finishing issue and worked to block it. He said the measure undercuts trade deals the U.S. has made.

“We applaud (certain textile-state lawmakers’) unwavering efforts these past six months to ensure that U.S. textile jobs in the dyeing, printing and finishing sectors are preserved,” said Van May, chairman of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute and CEO of Plains Cotton Cooperative Association. “Their tenacity in the face of strong and powerful opposition in Washington has been outstanding.”

In action in the Senate Wednesday, an amendment by Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) aimed at leveling the playing field in the textile industry was passed, 66-33. The provision was part of a trade bill, which includes trade promotion authority and Andean legislation, moving through the Senate.

The amendment includes language that instructs U.S. trade negotiators to reduce U.S. textile and apparel tariffs only if other countries reduce their own tariffs to the same level.

“We applaud the Senate for recognizing that fairness must be a key objective in textile trade negotiations,” May said. “By adopting the amendment, the Senate has served notice that the U.S. textile industry is not to be given away in future trade talks.”


Week of May 27, 2002

Gardner elected to GTMA post

PONTE VEDRA, FL — Thomas B. Gardner, senior vice president of bath manufacturing for Springs Industries in Griffin, GA, was recently elected chairman of GTMA: The Association of Georgia’s Textile, Carpet and Consumer Products Manufacturers (GTMA), during the group’s 102nd annual meeting here.

Gardner succeeds Mickey D. Lankford, president of the Walton Fabrics Division of Avondale Mills in Monroe, GA.

William A. Barron Jr., vice president of manufacturing for Shaw Industries in Dalton, was elected vice chairman, and Donald R. Henderson, vice president of manufacturing for Mount Vernon Mills, Inc., Trion, was elected treasurer.

Gardner is a 39-year veteran of the textile industry, having joined J.P. Stevens Company upon graduation from Western Carolina University in 1963. The career path to Gardner’s present position included 24 years at J.P. Stevens, interrupted by a year with American Thread Company and nearly eight years with The Bibb Company.

He joined Springs in 1996. While located in Griffin, he also has manufacturing responsibilities for plants in Hartwell and for bath products in Brazil.

Gardner, having served as president of the North Carolina Textile Manufacturers Association in 1994-95, said he is keenly aware of the value of state textile associations.

He serves on the boards of the United Way, Griffin Technical College and the Boy Scouts of America and is on the External Advisory Board of the Georgia Tech School of Textile and Fiber Engineering. He has also served on the GTMA board of directors and on its Legislative Committee.

Barron is the first representative from a carpet company to serve as an officer of the association. He has been with Shaw Industries for 33 years, joining the company following a two-year tour in the Army.

A graduate of The Citadel with a degree in business administration, he began his career with Shaw as an industrial engineer in Cartersville in 1969. He transferred to Dalton in 1977 to become director of carpet manufacturing and in 1992 was named vice president of manufacturing, responsible for fiber extrusion, yarn, carpet samples and engineering.

Barron has served on the board of directors of GTMA and on the boards of the United Way of Dalton and the Whitfield County Heart Association.

Henderson has spent his entire career in the textile industry, joining the Riegel Division of Mount Vernon Mills in 1969 upon his discharge from the U.S. Army.

He also has an impressive record of service to his community and church, and to the industry. He served as the chairman of the Chattooga County Chamber of Commerce, and on its board; as a member of the Windwood Advisory Board; as chairman of the administrative board of the Trion United Methodist Church, and as a Sunday school teacher; as a director, treasurer, vice president and president of The Textile Education Foundation; as chairman of the Georgia Textile Operating Executives; and as a director of GTMA.

The association also re-elected Roy Bowen as president and Suzanne Wilkes as secretary.

The Georgia textile industry, with sales last year totaling more than $18 billion, is the state’s largest manufacturing employer with nearly 95,000 employees.

Founded in 1900, GTMA is the statewide trade association that represents textile, carpet and consumer product manufacturers in legislative, regulatory and public relations matters. GTMA also provides a broad array of services and counsel to the industry in the areas of human resources, fiber procurement, public utility rates and energy, safety and health, education and training, environmental quality, funded research and taxation.


Week of May 27, 2002

Textile Education Foundation elects officers

PONTE VEDRA, FL — Richard P. Strawhorn, director of risk management for Mohawk Industries in Calhoun, GA, was elected president of The Textile Education Foundation, Inc. (TEF) at the group’s 59th annual meeting here recently.

Strawhorn succeeds J. Tom Watters Jr., chairman of the board of Syntec Industries in Rome.

Lee S. Bryan, general manager of finishing for Mount Vernon Mills, Inc. in Trion, was elected vice president, and John Cahill, vice president of human resources for Ten Cate Nicolon, USA in Pendergrass, GA, was elected treasurer.

Strawhorn was born and raised in Abbeville County, SC, and graduated from Furman University in Greenville, SC, and subsequently from The Financial Management Program of Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA.

He began his career as an accounts payable clerk for the Rocky River Plant of Bigelow Sanford and went on to become a member of the senior management teams at Bigelow, Fieldcrest Cannon and the Residential Division of Mohawk Industries.

Active in the community and with his church, Strawhorn serves on the Executive Committee of the Gordon Chamber of Commerce and is a past chairman of that organization. He is also a member of the Administrative Council of the Calhoun United Methodist Church, where he has served for several years as chairman of the Finance Committee.

He is a member of the board of the North Georgia Chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants and the Coosa Valley Technical College and serves on the Financial Officers Council of the Carpet and Rug Institute. He also serves on the Board of GTMA: The Association of Georgia’s Textile, Carpet and Consumer Products Manufacturers.

Bryan is a member of a family that for decades has provided distinguished leadership to the industry, to GTMA and to TEF. A native of Jefferson, GA, he began his career in the industry in 1980 as a manufacturing trainee with Burlington Industries following his graduation from Purdue University with a degree in industrial engineering.

He joined his family-owned Jefferson Mills in 1984 as finishing plant manager and was subsequently named vice president of manufacturing. Jefferson Mills was sold to Texfi Industries in 1991, and Bryan remained with the company as its plant manager until he joined Mount Vernon Mills in 1993.

Cahill is a graduate of King’s College in Wilkes Barre, PA, where he lettered in football and golf. His professional career has included stints at Sears Roebuck & Company and Borden, prior to joining Ten Cate Nicolon USA in 1990. He has been involved with the Human Resources Committee of GTMA for several years and currently serves as its chairman.

Three executives were elected to serve three-year terms on the board of directors: Hank Millsaps, vice president of human resources, Collins & Aikman Floorcoverings, Dalton; Larry Porter, general manager of greige fabrics, Mount Vernon Mills, Alto; and Denise Statham, director of marketing, Southern Mills, Inc., Union City.

In addition, the foundation elected Harry Batty, CEO of Sylvania Yarn Systems, Sylvania, and Jimmy L. Prater, group director of natural yarn and carpet manufacturing of Shaw Industries, Dalton, to fill unexpired terms on the board.

The foundation also re-elected Roy Bowen as executive vice president and Suzanne Wilkes as secretary.


Week of May 27, 2002

Wellman to sell filament unit

SHREWSBURY, NJ — Wellman, Inc. announced Wednesday that it has agreed in principle to the sale of its polyester filament yarn business, located in Fayetteville, NC.

The purchaser, Cedar Creek Fibers LLC, will begin operations at this facility on Tuesday, Wellman said.

The new business will be led by Christopher Schaller, a textile executive with 37 years of experience in the industry.

“The Fayetteville plant has a reputation for manufacturing high-quality product and providing excellent service,” said Schaller, president and CEO. “We look forward to building the business with our customers on this solid foundation.”

As part of this sale, Wellman has agreed to supply for a year, raw material feedstock to Cedar Creek, and to provide transition services in order to achieve a seamless transfer of ownership.

“We are very happy with this sale,” said Tom Duff, CEO of Wellman. “It provides the opportunity for many of our employees to remain at the Fayetteville facility in the industry they have served for so many years. It also provides the marketplace with a quality supplier of goods and services, with little or no interruption.”

Wellman, Inc. manufactures and markets high-quality polyester products, including Fortrel brand polyester textile fibers, and PermaClear and EcoClear brand PET (polyethylene terephthalate) packaging resin.


Week of May 27, 2002

SaurerGroup merges operations in U.S.

CHARLOTTE, NC — In order to intensify and optimize customer support functions and to simplify the corresponding business processes, the Swiss-based SaurerGroup has consolidated its U.S. textile operations under a single legal umbrella named Saurer Inc.

Based here, this new entity combines the SaurerGroup’s six U.S. business units — Saurer Twisting, Barmag, Neumag, Schlafhorst, Zinser and Saurer Embroidery — which will share backup services in accounting, human resources and logistics, along with customer and technical services.

This structure will allow the product-oriented sales organizations of the individual companies to fully concentrate on supporting their customers in the NAFTA region, the company said.

Dan W. Loftis has been named president and CEO of Saurer Inc.

Kellwood Co. to buy Gerber Childrenswear

ST. LOUIS — Kellwood Company announced today it has entered into an agreement to acquire Gerber Childrenswear, Inc. through a combination of cash and stock, according to Hal J. Upbin, chairman, president and chief executive officer.

Under terms of the agreement, Kellwood will acquire Gerber Childrenswear in a stock/cash transaction valued at $6.85 per share of Gerber Childrenswear. Each share would be tendered for at least $3.42 cash and up to $3.43 in value of shares of Kellwood common stock.

Headquartered in Greenville, SC, Gerber Childrenswear’s sales in 2001 were $210 million. The company’s business consists of two major divisions, children’s apparel and athletic hosiery.

Edward Kittredge, Gerber Childrenswear chairman, president and CEO, will continue to lead the unit.

Kellwood markets apparel and recreational camping products.

Victor Forstmann trimming 150 jobs

DUBLIN, GA — Victor Forstmann Inc., which manufactures woolen and worsted fabrics for clothing and specialty products, said it is laying off 150 people here because of reduction in orders, according to company officials.

The cutbacks will leave the plant with 425 employees.

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1999 and was subsequently purchased by Victor Woolen Products Ltd. of Montreal.

Scranton Lace Company closes after 105 years

SCRANTON, PA — Scranton Lace Co., once the world’s largest producer of Nottingham lace, has closed.

The 105-year-old company ceased production this month and sent its remaining 50 or so employees home.

Scranton used enormous, one-of-a-kind looms to create Nottingham lace, open-weave material formed into swaths of flowers, ferns and geometric shapes. The looms were imported from Europe more than 100 years ago.

DuPont plans to hike price of PVA/PVOH

WILMINGTON, DE — DuPont Packaging and Industrial Polymers announced a 5 cent per pound increase in the price for all grades of Elvanol® polyvinyl alcohol (PVA/PVOH), effective June 15.

This increase applies to all market segments worldwide. DuPont cited a continued strengthening in the worldwide demand for PVA/PVOH. This accelerated growth is resulting in a return to more normal, historic supply/demand ratios, the company added.

Elvanol is used in a variety of industries, including textiles, paper and adhesives.

Biddeford employees vote for pay cut

BIDDEFORD, ME — Unionized employees at Biddeford Textile Corp. have agreed to a 50-cents-an-hour pay cut as part of a three-year contract.

The blanket maker had requested the pay cut as it attempts to regain its financial footing.

Members of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) voted 63-32 to take the wage decrease.

The company was in danger of closings its doors a year ago.

NTC universities get federal funding

WILMINGTON, DE — A consortium of universities has received $9.85 million in federal funding for research aimed at helping make the textile and apparel industry more competitive.

The eight universities that make up the National Textile Center will share the money, which generally is split fairly evenly.

The 11-year-old center focuses on textile research, education and partnerships. Researchers design and develop new materials, improved manufacturing methods and integrated systems.

The National Textile Center consists of Clemson, Auburn University, Georgia Institute of Technology, N.C. State University, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, Philadelphia University, Cornell University and the University of California-Davis.

Fiscal notes

Week of May 27, 2002

Lower sales hurt Frisby Technologies

WINSTON-SALEM, NC — Frisby Technologies, Inc., a maker of climate control materials for textile and apparel goods, lost $1.3 million, or 15 cents per share, on revenues of $1.6 million.

For the same period a year ago, the company lost $1.2 million, or 17 cents per share, on sales of $2 million.

The increased net loss resulted from a decrease in gross profit margin, coupled with lower sales, the company said. A $204,000 decrease in operating expenses helped offset the losses, however.

“We are encouraged that there are emerging signs that business conditions are improving for the company,” said Greg Frisby, chairman and chief executive officer. “Customer demand has been stronger than we expected entering 2002, particularly so in Europe, where sales by SFT were up more than 20 percent compared to the first quarter of 2001.”

Burke Mills turns profit after loss

VALDESE, NC — Burke Mills, Inc. made $288,000 in the first quarter after losing $113,000 for the same period last year.

Net income per share was 11 cents versus a 4 cents per share loss a year ago.

Sales decreased 4.8 percent to $9 million, compared to $9.4 million for the first quarter of 2001.

Burke, a processor of dyed, twisted, and textured yarns for the automotive, home and contract upholstery markets, said it expects that polyester yarn prices by suppliers will negatively affect its second-quarter results.

C&A Corp. to offer 20 million shares

TROY, MI — Collins & Aikman Corp. said it will offer 20 million shares in a public offering after a one-for-2.5 reverse stock split.

The auto industry supplier said it will use about $100 million of the proceeds to repurchase preferred stock issued to Textron as part of its purchase of Textron’s auto trim business. C&A also will repay $100 million under its credit agreement and retain the balance for general corporate purposes.


Week of May 27, 2002

Fi-Tech hired by Hastem

RICHMOND, VA — Fi-Tech, Inc. has been named the United States and Canadian distributor for Hastem Transportbänder GmbH of Nördlingen, Germany.

Hastem holds numerous patents on its transport aprons for the nonwovens and textile industries. Its has developed plastic slat profiles with surface features that can efficiently transport virtually any nonwoven web during processing, according to the company.

In addition, its patented system allows for the replacement of individual slats when needed.


Week of May 27, 2002

Rieter BCF installation fulfills ‘plug and produce’ promise

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA — In February, the second and largest plant totally dedicated to Rieter Pathfinder BCF machines came on stream after a unique start-up.

The unique aspect of the installation: Each machine went from packing cases to full commercial production in a mere two weeks. Saudi Carpet Factory (AIG) here took delivery of 2xMP222 Monocolour and 1xTP231 Tricolour Pathfinder turnkey systems.

A new building was constructed and, together with Rieter engineers, a complete factory was built, utilizing the joint BCF expertise from Saudi Carpets and Rieter.

While the Pathfinder systems are based on a standard modular construction in this purpose-built plant, sufficient space existed to tailor the machine configurations to meet Saudi Carpets’ specific needs.

“I’ve never seen a start-up of new equipment like this before,” said Ahmed Abdullatif, owner of Saudi Carpets Factory. “The Pathfinder promise ‘plug and produce’ really works. Only two hours after taking the first machines into operation, we had bobbins of excellent yarn quality.”

With more then 40 positions of Pathfinder in production worldwide, the Saudi Carpet factory is the second but largest purpose-built installation, operating a number of machines. The total plant, including ancillary equipment, took only 10 weeks to install and product development to Saudi Carpet’s specifications was achieved within a day, Rieter said.

Rieter proved that Pathfinders’ modular set-up enables quick delivery and a short installation period on site, the machinery maker said. As all critical components are manufactured within Rieter, close control can be kept on deliveries, permitting tight production lead times.

The Pathfinder concept with Rieter quality proves that today’s modular BCF production platforms have been elevated to even higher standards in today’s crucial economics of BCF production, according to a Rieter spokesperson.


Week of May 27, 2002

Official discusses all things ITMA (UK version)

Part 2

By Devin Steele

CHARLOTTE, NC — The ITMA 2003 Organizing Committee is currently involved in the arduous task of assigning more than 1,100 exhibitors in various textile machinery sectors to 21 halls within the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) here.

That’s the first step in preparing for the more detailed job of assigning stands to exhibitors, according to Andrew Bird, operations director of the committee.

During a trade show seminar sponsored by the American Textile Machinery Association (ATMA) this month, Bird updated attendees on all matters related to the quadrennial show, scheduled for Oct. 22-29, 2003.

“So far, we have booked all of the major players, all of the names you would expect to see at the ITMA show,” he reported.

Stand assignments will be announced October 1, he said, adding that he predicts the show will cover about 1.2 million square feet.

“The criteria that determines the floor plan are the most complex that I have ever come across in my career in organizing exhibitions,” Bird said. “You have so many variables that you have to take into account, I just wonder how on earth we can do it six weeks (from May 13 to June 30). You have product category, size of stand, special needs, the number of open sides, etc.”

That said, he added that the geography of the NEC, with its multiple entry points and the way tickets will be managed and traffic will flow, will allow good exposure for all exhibitors, “whether you are CEMATEX or non-CEMATEX.”

Bird added that caveat, he said, in order to ease concerns that companies from CEMATEX countries will get any special treatment — a common complaint about past ITMAs. CEMATEX (The European Committee of Textile Machinery Manufacturers) owns the ITMA shows and consists of members from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

“Non-CEMATEX exhibitors have felt disenfranchised at previous ITMAs because they believed they had poor locations at the show,” he said. “And CEMATEX has asked us as organizers to try our level best to make it a fair playing field.”

Bird also urged companies to carefully peruse the Exhibitor Services Program for a wide range of products and services offered by the Organizing Committee.

“We are contractually obliged to provide services at average UK prices,” he said. “If you procure your services from other providers, the prices that you pay will be subject to market forces.”

The organizers also can create exhibit stands for companies, which would save on the cost of shipping, he said.

“I know that American companies, when they exhibit abroad, like to make up modular exhibition stands at home and ship them to wherever they are going to be exhibiting,” he said. “That’s fine. I’m just saying that I think we can provide that service just as well and just as competitively as your suppliers here.”

Bird acknowledged that England is a “rather bureaucratic country” and that exhibitors will be subject to a plethora of rules and regulations, especially regarding guidelines for stands. His staff, however, will work with ATMA officials to explain those codes so that they can, in turn, be educated enough to answer questions from U.S. exhibitors.

Conference scheduled

For the first time in the 50-year history of ITMA, a conference will be staged as part of the trade show, Bird reported. He said the forum will be “something completely different,” appealing to a worldwide textile audience.

About 60 percent of the subject matter will deal with non-textile specific topics, such as environmental issues, economic factors, world competition, consumer trends, waste management and global trade, with the balance being technical in nature, he noted. The conference will run over five or six days, he said.

“This is not being driven by CEMATEX,” Bird said. “They have removed themselves from running it. We are running it as organizers and we have a free hand. We’re making it independent and we want to stimulate true debate. So it won’t be a platform for CEMATEX to push their views.”

An independent committee of advisors from around the world is being formed to determine topics and speakers, he said.

Also in conjunction with the exhibition is a “spectacular event” designed for exhibitors to entertain their best customers, Bird said. Details are still being worked out, he said, but the show will be preceded by dinner and followed by a concert by a world-class entertainer, he said.

“It’s going to be Cirque du Soleil, space travel, haute couture and Impressionist painting, all rolled into one,” he said. “And you will be very impressed.”

Organizers have agreed in principle that companies will be given sponsorship opportunities for the show.

“I’m pretty optimistic that we’re going to offer sponsorship opportunities, which obviously will increase your visibility and will also give you an opportunity, if you’re a smaller player, to become as visible perhaps as some of the leading players.”

In attracting visitors, Bird reported that no expense is being spared and that every strategy is being employed to ensure that turnout is exceptional.

Bird added that CEMATEX has “relaxed its attitude” toward many aspects of the ITMA show, which he said will contribute to the show’s success.

“CEMATEX has become open to many things that will allow exhibitors to promote themselves,” he said. “You can build more exciting stands, you can build larger stands, you can use rigging, you can use all of the normal techniques that you would expect to employ as an exhibitor. You can also advertise all around the exhibition site. You can run a fashion show in your stand, if you want to. And, as I said, we expect to be able to offer sponsorship packages and we will be running a conference.

“All of these things demonstrate that CEMATEX is serious that ITMA 2003 really is a show that delivers to exhibitors and I’m urging you to take advantage of these opportunities.”


Week of May 27, 2002

Nonwovens, knitting sectors included

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND —For the first time ever at an ITMA, the 2003 show here will include suppliers to the nonwovens sector, the Organizing Committee announced recently.

Included in that part of the exhibition will be all types of machinery for web formation, bonding and finishing of nonwovens and felting, together with their accessories.

To date, more than 60 exhibitors have signed up to exhibit in a 12,000 square meter area. The nonwovens sector has been centrally located in the National Exhibition Center (NEC) site, with direct links leading into the various spinning, dyeing and finishing and knitting halls.

Contrary to earlier rumors, knitting industry suppliers will participate at ITMA, not in a rival show in Milan, show owner CEMATEX announced. Centrally located between spinning, nonwovens and weaving, more than 65 exhibitors have taken stands in the knitting sector, which currently covers an area of 14,000 square meters.

The nonwovens and knitting sector also will be have a major presence on the docket of the accompanying conference, organizers said.


Week of May 27, 2002

Loose Ends

Wear ear plugs

With apologies to The Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich:

Textile graduates of the Class of ’02:

Wear ear plugs.

If I could give you only one piece of advice as you embark on a career in this industry, ear plugs would be it. In an industry that prides itself on its safety and health regulations, wearing ear plugs is a no-brainer any time you walk into a weave room, a knitting mill or a spinning plant. Otherwise, you may miss your hearing in retirement, especially when bingo numbers or “FORE!” are called. The rest of my advice has no scientific corroboration and is based merely on my experiences as an industry watcher. I will dispense that advice now.

Take your talents into this industry and make it better. In spite of everything you’re hearing, a future does exist for textiles in the United States. And, for that matter, for all manufacturing. But only if people such as you — bright, inquisitive young adults — go out and apply the high-tech skills you learned in college to help this industry return to its former glory.

Never pass up the opportunity to go on a job interview. You may reach a level of security in your career, but it never hurts to see what the other guy is offering. Who really knows how stable their position is, regardless of their industry?

Ask “why?”

Learn Spanish. And perhaps German or Italian. And Chinese may not hurt, either, as much as that notion makes me cringe.

Never regret your decision to pursue a degree in textiles. Even if you one day decide to change careers, the top-notch education you received will help you thrive in any field.

Keep an eye on Washington at all times. Lawmakers hold more of your future in their hands than you may know. And get to know them. Invite them into your plants. Let them look into the eyes of people whose lives they have the power to turn upside down. Explain the processes involved in making a textile item. Advise them of the challenges you face and why you face them. Maybe they’ll at least be enlightened enough to cast a responsible vote.

Study your supervisor. He has probably forgotten as much about this industry as you know now. Watch how he manages, how he treats people, how he conducts himself in meetings. You may hold that position one day and the lessons you learn beforehand are indispensable.

Ask “why not?”

Keep in touch with your professors. They’re invaluable sources of information — from the latest research being conducted at the school to a piece of advice you may need to hear. Donate equipment, funds and time to your alma mater. You were able to achieve the level of education you did only because others before you gave back.

Don’t rest on your laurels. You may develop a new fiber, be promoted to CEO or be named Textile Leader of the 21st Century, but don’t let it change you into someone no one likes anymore. Stay humble.

Chew slowly. Being so busy you have to “inhale” your lunch at your desk while reviewing the latest production numbers or balance sheet indicates a level of stress that can’t be good for your long-term health — not to mention your digestive system. Delegate. Or hire someone. Or explain that feeling of being overwhelmed to your supervisor. She can probably help.

By the same token, don’t be afraid to work overtime, when needed. Sometimes, it’s needed to achieve results. And it’s amazing how much you can do after the phones have stopped ringing and the office has grown quiet. Just don’t make it a habit.

Maybe you’ll be an industrial engineer. Maybe you’ll be a senior vice president. Either way, work hard, do your best, be honest — and your company will be all the better for it. And you will, too.

Respect people. That includes co-workers up and down the corporate chain — especially those who may be considered blue-collar. Most of them take more pride in their work than anyone in the company. Pat them on the back. Talk with them. Laugh with them. Cry with them. Know their children’s names.

Ask. You don’t have all the answers, even though, with a freshly signed diploma, you probably think you do now.

Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is like taking a second-quality towel, cutting off the defects, holding it up for show and tell and asking others not to make the same mistakes.

But trust me on the ear plugs.

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