Speakers light way for STA

Week of July 2, 2001

Hayes: 'Unity ... unity ... unity'

By Ron Copsey

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC — More than 350 members and guests attended the recent 93rd Annual Meeting of the Southern Textile Association (STA) here.

With nearly 600 members in North and South Carolina and Virginia, STA’s mission is professional development and technical training for its individual manufacturing members.

In addition to several nationally known speakers, STA also presented its two prestigious awards to industry leaders, as well as cash awards for three textile schools. There were social and recreational opportunities, plus more than 100 door prizes for those coming early to the business sessions.

Chuck Hayes, chairman of Guilford Mills and president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), opened the first business session with a stern warning that the industry is in crisis and badly needs to be unified. “My vision for the industry is to bring about unity ... unity ... unity,” he said.

New STA officers include (L-R) Larry Oates, Carolon Company, first vice president; Lee Thomas, Parkdale America, member-at-large; Mike Godfrey, Mount Vernon Mills, second vice president; Dan Nation, Parkdale Mills, chairman; Henry Surratt, Springs Industries, president.

“Survival of every one of us will depend on whether we can come together to achieve the objectives that will assure our survival and growth in the years to come. In the late 1980s, we (ATMI) were a unified organization — we were fighting for protectionism. But in the 21st century, that word is no longer in anyone’s vocabulary. In today’s world, we are in a global environment and every segment must be united to promote the survival of our industry.”

Hayes referred to the steel industry being united in its successful efforts to fight illegal steel imports and he said that the steel industry offers an example of what the textile industry must do to survive.

Hayes said ATMI is working closely with the American Yarn Spinners Association and the National Cotton Council to reunite its efforts with these organizations into one “common cause, which is the survival and growth of our industry,” Hayes said. “We are optimistic we can reach an agreement that overcomes issues that have divided our organizations in the past.”

Another major advance at ATMI has been the establishment of the American Textile Alliance (ATA) some 18 months ago, Hayes said. “The Alliance is made up of 13 other textile-related trade organizations and provides the leaders of these organizations a forum for open discussions that can address and prevent problems that have previously divided our industry,” he said.

Hayes reviewed ATMI’s efforts to uncover fraud and smuggling of textile products into Mexico, his meeting with Mexico’s President Fox and the discovery that 40 percent of textile fabrics imported into Mexico were either smuggled or re-invoiced at very low valuations in order to avoid paying duties to the Mexican government.

He reported that Mexico is taking steps to correct textile fraud, which includes inspecting all textile imports, not just spot checks, and reducing the number of ports where textiles can go in to Mexico. According to Hayes, during the first two months of this year, 950 trailers have been seized for presenting false data.

He also added that, “45 of 47 Mexican port directors have been removed and for the new appointments, they have emphasized integrity over technical expertise.”

In the news ...

Week of July 2, 2001

Private group offers to bail out center

GREENVILLE, SC — The Palmetto Expo Center may have been “saved” for the time being Wednesday after a group of private investors offered to bail out the financially troubled home of the American Textile Machinery Exhibition-International (ATME-I) shows.

The offer includes satisfying a bank note of $9.5 million that was due Bank of America Friday. The proposed funds are an addition to the $1 million center officials had asked Greenville City Council, County Council and private business to contribute.

The private group was organized by Vivian Wong, a local real estate developer who met with the bank Wednesday. Discussions of the deal, future ownership of the center and how much money was involved was not revealed.

“We will not know if the bank accepts it until Friday,” which was to come after STN’s deadline, Marty Navarro, owner of Navarro Real Estate, and part of the private group, told The Greenville News.

In related news, Robert Ellis, president and CEO of Textile Hall Corp., the center’s parent company, said that he was to retire this past Friday after 34 years with the group.

Plant consolidation planned

CHARLOTTE, NC — American & Efird (A&E), has experienced further weakening in business conditions due to the slowdown in consumer spending in the U.S., along with increased apparel imports, according to holding company Ruddick Corporation.

The sewing thread manufacturer has temporarily idled one of its six spinning plants in North Carolina and is in the process of finalizing plans to consolidate a portion of production volumes from its Gastonia, NC, dyeing and finishing plant to its Mount Holly, NC, dyeing and finishing plant.

This consolidation will allow the company to operate more efficiently at current and anticipated volume levels and to provide better work schedules for remaining employees, Ruddick said in a statement.

Details about the number of affected employees were not disclosed.

CMI, creditors agree to dismiss petition

COLUMBIA, SC — CMI Industries, Inc. announced June 22 that the company and the creditors who filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition against the company on May 3, have filed a joint motion to dismiss the petition.

The parties have agreed to use their best efforts to obtain the entry of a final order granting such relief on or before July 20.

In conjunction with the joint dismissal motion, the parties have also agreed to an interim order outlining the terms and conditions for the parties to continue working together to develop a cooperative approach to restructure the company’s debt structure outside of bankruptcy.

Dyersburg finds buyer for United

CHARLOTTE, NC — Dyersburg Corporation announced last week that it has signed a letter of intent for the sale of its stretch division, United Knitting, to Mallen Industries, Inc.

Mallen Industries Inc., an Atlanta, GA-based manufacturer, produces high-performance textile products for the industrial, automotive, activewear and intimate apparel industries. Dyersburg said it expects the sale to be completed by mid-summer.

JPS Apparel files Ch. 11

GREENVILLE,SC — JPS Apparel Fabrics Corp. has filed for bankruptcy, according to reports.

The company also plans to close the spinning department at its Watts plant in Laurens, SC, with the exception of some limited carding and MJS spinning.

About 110 of the plant’s 233 people will be affected by the closing.

Inman to shut another plant

INMAN, SC — Inman Mills, a Spartanburg County textile manufacturer of greige goods, announced Tuesday it will close its Enoree, SC-based Riverdale Plant, a yarn mill operated by the company since 1928.

The closing will be effective August 26, according to Robert H. Chapman III, president of the company. He made the announcements to its 110 employees, beginning with the first shift.

The closing comes on the heels of a downsizing of the company that began in January, when Inman announced plans to close its first plant, the Inman Plant here, in March. About 120 employees were displaced at that time, Chapman said.

Chapman cited ever-competitive market conditions, which are forcing the company to further streamline its operations in the face of a manufacturing recession. A sluggish economy has affected other key industries, but has hit the textile industry particularly hard, Chapman said.

Tropical to buy Duck Head

TAMPA, FL — Apparel and sportswear maker Tropical Sportswear International (TSI) Corporation plans to buy Duck Head Apparel Company for $16 million.

The two companies entered into an agreement last week that states that Tropical will acquire 100 percent of the common stock of Duck Head pursuant to a tender offer and subsequent merger.

Tropical Sportswear said it will offer $4.75 per share for Duck Head’s 2.9 million shares, stock options and other shares.

The deal is expected to close in the third calendar quarter, Tropical said.

Duck Head was spun off as a separate public reporting company a year ago by Delta Woodside Industries and is based in Winder, GA. The company produces men’s and boys’ casual sportswear products, including shirts, shorts and pants, which are marketed under its Duck Head® brand to apparel retailers and through its chain of 25 outlet retail stores. In addition, the company licenses its Duck Head brand to producers of other apparel and accessory products.

For the year that ended Saturday, Duck Head management said it expects that Duck Head will report net sales of about $45 million.

Congressman Price tours Cotton Incorporated’s HQ

CARY, NC — Cotton Incorporated welcomed Congressman David Price (D-NC) to its world headquarters here recently.

Representative Price toured the state-of-the-art research facility before addressing employees at a town hall style meeting.

“I appreciate (Cotton Incorporated’s) contribution to the state and country as a whole,” said Price. “The organization successfully blends elements of new technology and the new economy to maximize the success of a traditional, economic staple of North Carolina. Its impact on the economy and agriculture is extremely important.”

Price has strong numbers to back this statement, according to Cotton Inc. This year alone, state farmers are expected to plant more than 1 million acres of cotton, representing a 12.9 percent increase from last year. The value of cotton as a crop in North Carolina has grown as farmers look for financially viable alternatives to tobacco.

Analysts: Dec. futures grinding toward 35¢

CHICAGO — New York Cotton Exchange cotton futures have made a decisive move lower out of a three-week trading range, which has analysts re-evaluating how low this market may go. Many say July could end up in the low 30-cent-per-pound area as it nears expiration, and Dec. could follow suit in the next few months with a foray near 35¢, assuming normal growing conditions.

“Technically, cotton could go pretty low,” said Jack Scoville, agricultural commodities analyst with Price Futures Group, Chicago. “Dec. could do 35¢. I thought the nearby could go down to 34.80¢ and we’re not far away from that.”

Scoville said a low for the market may be fast approaching, but don’t expect a quick turnaround.

“What I think will happen is that cotton will start to come to a low soon,” he said. “The crop is planted and looking good, which is generally the time a low is made.”

Scoville said while Oct. and Dec. may to sink into the 30¢ area, they should recover slightly and spend an extended period around 40¢.

“Cotton could have a rather lengthy bottoming process,” Scoville said. “Usually when a market makes a bottom — even cotton — it tends to stick around for few months. We could see these types of low prices into the summer; then in the fall we’ll see what production really is and go from there.”

Cotton’s export effort bolstered

MEMPHIS, TN — The U.S. cotton industry’s export promotion program has been given a timely boost via a Stoneville Pedigreed Seed Company grant.

Stoneville’s $75,000 annual special project grant to The Cotton Foundation will be used to support Cotton Council International’s (CCI) COTTON USA Advantage program — an effort designed to help overseas consumers distinguish the qualities and services of U.S. cotton and U.S. cotton products.

As the export promotion arm of the Memphis-based National Cotton Council of America, CCI works to promote U.S. cotton fiber and cotton products as the choice for global textile manufacturers and consumers through its extensive COTTON USA trade servicing and consumer promotion programs.

Speizman Industries shows Lonati, Martint equipment

By Devin Steele

CHARLOTTE, NC — A number of visitors, some from as far away as Canada, recently viewed new equipment from Lonati and Martint Equipment Company/Braun at Speizman Industries’ headquarters here.

Speizman represents Italy-based Lonati, which specializes in hosiery manufacturing equipment. Speizman is involved in a joint venture with Martint of Cornelius, NC, to distribute Braun dye-extractor machines worldwide.

“We’ve had a good 30 companies come by this week so far and we anticipate another 10-15,” Bill Bell, a sales representative, said on the fourth day of the five-day demonstration.

“We are honored to have these customers come to see our equipment,” added Jay Martin, Speizman’s vice president of sales, textile wet processing.

Among highlights, visitors were shown Lonati’s newest automatic system for sock packaging, the Tecnopea PM898. The machine features a boarding, measuring, auto-trimming, heat-printing, folding, stacking, swift-tac, j-hook applicator, banding, stack turning and bagging unit.

“One operator runs this machine, which does the job of two or three,” Bell said.

Also running was the Lonati FL54JCT-FL74JCT automatic toe-closing knitting machine.

“This is the only machine in the industry that will make a virtually seamless toe,” said Reggie Hill, sales representative. “The seam is flat on the inside and undetectable on the outside.

“This machine is nearly as fast as open-toe machines on many styles and on some styles it’s faster,” he added. “The machine starts at the toe and finishes at the top, unlike conventional sock knitters.”

The loop closing of the toe is performed entirely by the knitting machine, eliminating the need for other machinery, Hill said.

This model is the second generation, the first being introduced last year.

Crosrol support firm formed

Crosrol UK Ltd is a new company that has been formed to provide the thousands of users of Crosrol cards, blowrooms and filters with a dedicated spare parts and technical support service.

The company is based in Britain.

In order to provide this service Crosrol UK Ltd has bought the assets of Crosrol Ltd. These assets include all the machinery component and assembly design drawings, patents and design rights for all Crosrol machines; manufacturing know-how; customer, supplier and machine records; master machine manuals; spare part stocks; and castings patterns.

Unifi, Cargill Dow report NatureWorks’ ‘breakthroughs’

PARIS — Unifi, Inc. and Cargill Dow LLC announced several developmental breakthroughs they say will bolster the commercial use and acceptance of NatureWorks’ fibers, a new material made entirely from annually renewable resources, such as corn.

These breakthroughs include the development of a 1 denier per filament yarn, success in package dyeing of air-jet textured NatureWorks’ fiber yarn and the availability of large-scale sampling in early 2002.

Unveiled at the 45th annual Expofil here, these announcements mark the continued and rapid development of new, naturally based fibers that combine the best physical attributes of natural and synthetic materials.

Unifi’s advancements in spinning and texturing NatureWorks’ fibers means that many new clothing and fabric options could soon be in full-scale production, the company said.

“We have been successful in achieving commercially acceptable quality and consistency levels across several yarn counts,” said Lee Gordon, Unifi senior vice president of product development and commercialization. “We have also seen great hand and performance results from the 1 denier per filament yarn, especially in fleece applications.”

Unifi has also achieved high quality and dye uniformity in package-dyed air jet textured yarns made from NatureWorks’ fibers, he added. Gordon noted that these yarns would be well suited for the upholstery market, particularly contract upholstery.

Coats N.A. awards scholarships

CHARLOTTE, NC — Four students have been selected as recipients of a $12,000 scholarship from Coats North America.

The students are children of Coats’ employees. The scholarships are payable at $3,000 per year and the recipients may attend a four-year college or university of their choice. These students have excelled in academics, community and church involvement, with further emphasis on leadership, character and financial need.

Tiffany Dustina Galloway is a senior at McDowell High School in Marion, NC. She ranks in the top 10 of her graduating class. She has been actively involved in Student Council throughout high school, serving as president of the Student Council her senior year.

Pamela Jane Raper is a senior at The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. She is the daughter of Isaac and Marilyn Raper, an employee at the Coats Cherokee Plant.

Lisa Ann Hawkins is a senior of West Henderson High School. She is the daughter of Beverly and Neal Hawkins, an employee at the Coats Hendersonville Plant.

Samantha Christine Lopes, a graduate of Crosby High School, is the daughter of Ana and Dario Lopes. Both Ana and Dario are employees at the Coats Watertown Plant.


Week of July 2, 2001

Scarred but still sparring ...

IF THE U.S. textile and apparel industry in 2001 was a Little League game, the 10-run rule would have forced an end to this mess weeks ago.

If it was the Titanic, the North Atlantic waters would already hold many passengers in its chilly grip.

If it was war, the white flags would already be unfurled.

Since the start of the actual millennium on January 1, the industry has given up enough runs, taken in enough water and lost enough battles that you can just about stick a fork in it — ’cause it may be almost done. And they say Jan. 1, 2005 is when we should really be worried.

Fortunately for the industry, the game continues, the journey proceeds, the conflict rages.

The industry plays on, in spite of cheap imports continuing to flood our borders.

It churns forward, even as the domestic economy slows down.

It fights back, though the government seems ambivalent to its plight.

AS WE MAKE the turn of this so-far-forgettable year, we can only shake our heads at the devastation this industry has endured in the last six months. The closings and job cuts have occurred so fast this year, it’s become hard to grieve over one string of losses without another coming on its heels.

More than 15,000 textile and apparel jobs have been lost in 2001, with about 8,400 coming in the Carolinas alone. Inman Mills, a greige fabric producer based in South Carolina, added more victims to the industry’s version of the Bataan Death March last week when it announced its second plant closing of the year. More than 100 were pink-slipped. And Inman President Rob Chapman sounded none too optimistic when he intoned in a company statement, “The future of our remaining employees is a prime concern.”

He could be speaking for the entire industry.

SO, HERE WE ARE, preparing for a week off to relax and recharge. The industry emerges from the first half of the year with bruises and scars and we wonder who will be the next to go. We wonder whether or not the textile gods will continue to smite this industry or begin to show mercy. We wonder when the healing will begin.

Indeed, the first six months of ’01 were the most damaging the industry has seen in a long, long time. Keep that in mind over the Fourth of July holiday. But be somewhat encouraged that work is being done to extinguish the inferno.

The industry’s national trade group, the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), is lobbying Congress and the White House to get tough on foreign competition. The U.S. Customs Service has not worked hard enough to stop illegal textile imports, Chuck Hayes, ATMI president, said recently. To encourage fairer trade, ATMI also wants the President to increase Customs funding and raise tariffs to match those of other countries. As part of its efforts, the organization has hired a Washington, DC, political consulting firm and a P.R. firm.

What else can be done but to play on, churn forward and fight back?