TYAA members get useful information

August 16, 2004

By Devin Steele

MYRTLE BEACH, SC — A mix of technical and trade presentations highlighted the 32nd annual Summer Conference of the Textured Yarn Association of America (TYAA) here recently.

Chas Scott (above) of Unifi, Inc., who was elected president of the Textured Yarn Association of America, addresses the group. Photo by Devin Steele

From a glimpse into high-tech research and development projects being conducted at NC State to global matters to the latest developments in various textured yarn processes, more than 100 TYAA members left the beach with a better understanding of issues affecting their sector.

Richard White, senior development engineer of new products for Milliken Textured Yarns, Williamston, SC, held the gavel during the two days of business sessions. He was succeeded as president by Chas Scott of Unifi, Inc.

Three speakers spoke on the topic of trade and global opportunities. Among them, Jane Johnson, manager of government relations for Unifi, Inc., presented, “Trade Summary — What It All Means To You.”

Her primary theme, on the minds of most in the worldwide textile industry these days, is the impact of the impending removal of textile quotas, particularly as it relates to China. Prefacing her comments by saying that she isn’t a “China basher,” Johnson said that China has grown into a global exporting machine by manipulating its currency, subsidizing its industries, transshipping product, engaging in intellectual property theft, etc.

She came armed with a slew of numbers highlighting China’s share of U.S. imports, which could rise dramatically once textile quotas are removed. She also summed up actions being taken to combat China’s export dominance, including safeguard initiatives and the Istanbul Declaration.

“No doubt, China is on everyone’s mind right now,” Johnson said. “All the cannons are pointing East.”

Meanwhile, Knox Winget, senior vice president of marketing worldwide for American & Efird, Mount Holly, NC, covered “Global Textured Thread Opportunities,” indicating that business in the Caribbean Basin is an important factor today and that a trade agreement with Central America is critical for the future in order to offset China.

Also, the inclusion of “thread language” in an Andean agreement and future trade deals is imperative, he said.

“Today, in this watershed year, things like quality and consistency are absolutely critical,” Winget said. “But we’re also looking for any opportunities to optimize trade agreements and be a part of them any way we can. The key for us is being close to our customer as well as our customers’ customers. And therein lies our key oportunities today.”

The group also heard from Missy Branson of The Ferguson Group, Washington, DC, which has been hired by the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) to handle lobbying duties. She provided an in-depth look into the China threat and how to counter it.

In other presentations, Dr. Blan Godfrey, dean of the College of Textiles at NC State University, provided a peek into the future of textiles with summaries of various research projects and offered insights into how the textile school is thriving through recruiting and global partnerships.

“This is a very exciting time for us,” he said. “Our big challenge is focus: Where are we going to put our time and efforts?”

Technical speakers included Andreas Weber of Heberlein Fiber Technology, Dr. Collin Atkinson and Ralf Ertl of Temco, Joe Plasky of SuJo, Inc., Ulrik Frodermann of Saurer, Inc. and Paria Mousavi of NC State.

Other officers voted in were Tommy George of Spectrum Textured Yarns, first vice president of technical; Frodermann, second vice president of technical; Jim McBride of Cognis Corp., vice president of membership; Alasdair Carmichael of Carmichael International, vice president of publicity, publications and archives; and Jerry Eskew of Day International, vice president of conventions.

Board members for the new term are Pat Murray of INVISTA; John Edwards of Nan Ya Plastics, Keith Adams of International Textile Group; and Rodney Sims of Nylstar, Inc. Jerry King of Milliken & Co. will continue to serve as executive secretary.


Kimbrell, Larsen among Hall inductees

August 16, 2004

LOWELL, MA — In a tribute to America’s spirit of enterprise, four textile industry leaders will join the Class of 2004 of the American Textile Hall of Fame (ATHF) next month.

Inductees include

• W. Duke Kimbrell, of Gastonia, NC, who has built Parkdale Mills, Inc. into the nation’s largest producer of cotton yarns;

• Jack Lenor Larsen, a leader in 20th century textile design and technical innovation whose New York design studio grew into a global organization, and who continues to influence 21st century weavers and designers;

• American Viscose Corporation (1910–1963), an early leader in the field of manmade fibers and the company that established American’s first rayon plant in 1910; and

• the National Cotton Council of America, a Memphis-based organization established in 1938 that provides a strong voice for the American cotton industry from grower to manufacturer.

A luncheon and induction ceremony in their honor will take place Monday, September 13, at the American Textile History Museum here.

The ATHF program, now in its fourth year, honors dedication and commitment to the nation’s textile industry.

“We are honored to welcome these leaders,” said James M. Fitzgibbons, chairman of the ATHF board of governors. “They have made an important difference in the textile industry, and we offer them a place in the American Textile Hall of Fame to tell their story to future generations.”

The ATHF is permanently housed at the American Textile History Museum, where the ATFH board of governors and the museum board of trustees will host this year’s luncheon and induction ceremony.

The Class of 2004 was selected by the ATHF board of governors, which includes Fitzgibbons, of Chestnut Hill, MA, and retired chairman of Fieldcrest Cannon; Robert E. Coleman, former chairman and CEO, Riegel Textile Corporation and Textile Hall Corporation, Greenville, SC; Robert Dalton Jr., Tech-Tex, Inc., Charlotte, NC; Walter Y. Elisha, former chairman and CEO, Springs Industries Inc., Fort Mill, SC; Kimbrell, chairman and CEO, Parkdale Inc., Gastonia, NC; Joseph L. Lanier Jr., chairman and CEO, Dan River Inc., Danville, VA; Arthur M. Spiro, AMS Tex Enterprises Inc., Great Neck, NY.

Edward B. Stevens, chairman, Ames Textile Corp., Lowell, MA and ATHM board of trustees chairman emeritus, serves as ex officio member.

The American Textile Hall of Fame, established in 2001 with a board of governors appointed by the museum’s board of trustees, honors past and present individuals, corporations and institutions that have made significant contributions to the textile industry in America as well as those who have advanced the role and appreciation of textiles in American life.

Members of the inaugural class were industry leader Roger Milliken, chairman and CEO of Milliken & Co.; textile pioneer Samuel Slater (1768-1835); and Duke Power, energy supplier to the industry in the Carolinas.

The Class of 2002 included E. I. Du Pont de Nemours and Company, Frederick B. Dent, James Spencer Love and Whitin Machine Works.

Class of 2003 inductees included Dalton McMichael Sr., (1914 – 2001) of Madison, NC; and The Draper Corporation, (1816–1980) of Hopedale, MA.

Tickets to the September event are $45 per person, or $35 for members of the Textile Industry Membership Program. For reservations, call 978-441-0400, ext. 246.


WTO rejects requests for meeting

August 16, 2004

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has rejected requests to hold an emergency meeting on the elimination of textile and apparel import quotas on January 1.

A request from Mauritius and Bangladesh to schedule such a meeting was turned down by Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, director-general of the WTO, who convened about 20 members of the trade body August 3 in Geneva for informal consultations on the request.

Supachai, however, indicated that WTO members did agree to discuss the issue during a regularly scheduled meeting of the Council for Trade in Goods on October 1.

“There had been mixed reactions to the request for an emergency session,” Supachai said after the consultations.

China, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Egypt, Hong Kong, Thailand and Indonesia objected to an emergency meeting, according to reports.

Following the conclusion of the informal meeting, the Global Alliance for Fair Trade in Textiles (GAFTT) hailed developing country governments for turning the impact of the quota phase-out into an important WTO issue.

According to press reports, eight developing countries spoke out on the need for the WTO to formally address the impact of the quota phase-out. These countries were Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

GAFTT noted that the meeting signaled a shift at the WTO, namely that for the first time, governments from major developing countries are demanding that the WTO take notice of the potentially devastating impact on local economies of the phase-out.

According to multiple studies and reports, China will take from one-half to two thirds of the world market in textiles and apparel once quotas are removed.


Three major manufacturers join NTA, committee

August 16, 2004

BOSTON — The National Textile Association (NTA) announced that three major domestic manufacturers — Dan River, Inc., Springs Industries, Inc. and WestPoint Stevens, Inc. — have joined NTA and will serve on the association’s new Textile Bedding Committee for top-of-the-bed product manufacturers.

The Textile Bedding Committee will function as a committee of the Home Fashions Council, which also includes the Upholstery Fabrics Committee. Linwood Wright of Dan River serves as chairman of the Textile Bedding Committee.

The committee, representing manufacturers of textile bedding products such as sheets, comforters, pillows and blankets, filed comments with the Senate Commerce Committee in opposition to the current wording of the American Home Fire Safety Act (S. 1798) on July 14.

The AHFSA would require that filled bedding products, such as comforters and pillows, resist burning and would require the adoption of a California draft standard, which is still under development, as the national standard. If approved, the regulation will become effective 90 days after it becomes law.

The Textile Bedding Committee is also working with the California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (CBHFTI) on a mandatory flammability regulation for filled textile bedding products. Assembly Bill 603, which was passed by the California Assembly in 2001, gives CBHFTI the authority to regulate these products. The CBHFTI is expected to begin formal rule-making later this year.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is also studying textile-bedding flammability and has announced that by the end of 2004, it will begin a review to determine if flammability regulations are needed. The first phase of rulemaking, an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, will be included in the agency’s briefing package on mattress flammability, which will be released later this year.

“We are delighted to have the Textile Bedding Committee as an active industry group in the NTA,” said NTA Chairman William E. Giblin, president of Tweave, Inc. “This marks the second new committee we have formed this year, and we welcome this important industry sector. NTA provides many valuable services to its membership and we’re glad to be able to provide this additional key leadership.

“The safety of all bedding products manufactured by our members is a high priority,” added Wright. “We are working cooperatively with California officials and believe we are making good progress in development of a standard test method.”


Textile Heritage Initiative unveiled

August 16, 2004

KANNAPOLIS, NC — A coalition of cotton mill village historians, history groups, museums and others announced during a press conference here last month the launch of a grassroots movement called the “Southwide Textile Heritage Initiative.”

The group announced plans to hold a Southwide Cotton Mill Reunion & Convention in April 2005 and called on “anyone and everyone who ever worked in a mill or lived in a mill town” to get involved now before this history vanishes.

They urged cotton mill people and those concerned with preserving their history to join a new organization named “The Honorary Order of the Bobbin & Shuttle” as a way to support the initiative and become involved.

Although most representatives were from North Carolina, organizers plan to fan out to other Southern textile states.

Institutions concerned with textile history preservation also attended, including the Levine Museum of the New South, Preservation North Carolina, the Gaston County Museum, the NC Humanities Council, the History Department at Catawba College and the American Textile History Museum of Lowell, MA, along with the Charlotte Symphony, which is composing a piece of classical music with a mill heritage theme.

Support has been conveyed from the NC Division of Archives & History, as well as U.S. Rep. Richard Burr (R-NC). Alice Garland, director of Sen. John Edwards’ North Carolina office, attended the press conference and planning session.

“Today we stand in front of old Cannon Plant #1, a little less than a year from the terrible day that the Pillowtex Corporation announced the biggest industrial shutdown in Carolina history,” said initiative coordinator Lynn Rumley. “Pillowtex was not the first textile company to close, nor it will be the last. Maybe something can be done about losing our region’s textile industry, maybe not. But, before the last whistle blows, there is something we can do. We can preserve the history and heritage of this industry and its people.”

For more information, visit www.TextileHeritage.org, call (336) 284-6040 or send mail to Textile Heritage, PO Box 336, Cooleemee, NC 27014.


Texas farmers optimistic about state production

August 16, 2004

By Odyll Santos

Reports from West Texas indicate that the cotton crop in the region is doing very well, with expectations that it could contribute to total state production that could approach 6.0 million 480-pound bales for the 2004-05 season.

In a summary of a Plains Cotton Advisory Group monthly meeting, held in Lubbock, TX, during the first week of August, agronomists, producer representatives and others who attended were cautiously optimistic about cotton.

The High Plains region of West Texas produces the bulk of the cotton in the state. With USDA’s crop and supply/demand report still to come on August 12, expectations for the region’s crop and for that of the entire state were high. Those who attended the meeting believe that Texas production has the potential to climb beyond the 5.96 million bales some had estimated.

Talk that they had heard among farmers was that this season’s cotton was better than many had seen in a long time, perhaps even the best crop ever. An abundance of rain has helped many West Texas fields, contributing to above-average growth and resulting in many large plants.

Now, High Plains farmers just need the weather to cooperate to produce a great crop this year. While crop watchers say irrigated cotton has developed in a timely manner, much of the dryland crop was planted late. These dryland crops will need a warm fall to mature.

“We’ve had so much rain, this has become the ‘Year of the Weed’ across most of the area,” said Randy Boman, Texas Cooperative Extension cotton agronomist. “We’ve got a relatively uniform irrigated crop, but much of the dryland is late. We’ll need maturing weather in the fall and heat units to complete the season.”

Farmers will need enough time to see their cotton develop properly this season. Ideal weather between August and harvest time a few months from now will be needed. Temperatures in September will be especially crucial. Both growers and crop watchers are hoping for a long fall that will provide cotton fields with plenty of heat units for plant growth.

Insects and cotton pests appear to be under control. Farmers do not have much to fear particularly from the boll weevil, an insect that can cause millions of dollars worth of damage to cotton fields. The region’s boll weevil eradication program has helped. Jim Leser, entomologist at the Texas Cooperative Extension, said weevil catches were down across the state, and no weevils were detected in any of the High Plains zones in the past four weeks, except for the Permian Basin where weevil numbers have fallen.

There also have not been problems with the cotton boll worm, another pest that can cause substantial crop damage. Some farmers in the region planted Bt cotton, a genetically modified crop variety that is resistant to the bollworm.

Meanwhile, October and December cotton futures in New York have been trading in the low- to mid-40-cent-per-pound area. December futures likely will be able to hold the low-40s as uncertainty about weather enters the market, said Mississippi cotton marketing specialist O.A. Cleveland in comments for the trading week ended August 6.

However, with a large crop expected in the U.S. and with strong production in other countries, prices are likely to attempt a move below 40 cents per pound.

“The limited shortage of world, and principally U.S., carryover stocks will keep a floor under prices until the U. S. crop is available,” Cleveland wrote in his comments. “Chinese new crop, as well as that of other major producers, will be more readily available as we move into 2005, and those crops will further depress the futures market, setting the stage for a possible trip below 40 cents.”


Unifi to acquire INVISTA plant

August 16, 2004

GREENSBORO, NC — Unifi, Inc. said it has agreed to acquire the INVISTA polyester filament manufacturing assets, including inventories, located in Kinston, NC.

Subject to a final inventory valuation, the purchase price will be about $21 million, which will be seller financed.

The two companies are also discussing options for Unifi to acquire other polyester filament assets from INVISTA. No other terms of the agreement were disclosed.

Acquisition of the Kinston facility will result in a more vertically integrated base of operations for the company in the U.S. through the addition of polymer spinning, Unifi said.

As a part of the agreement, the manufacturing alliance between Unifi and INVISTA and all related agreements will be terminated, Unifi said. Sales from the Kinston facility are about $300 million, of which two-thirds are generated from sales to Unifi.

Separately, Unifi said that, as of November, its European operations will focus solely on the sales, distribution and service of textured yarn. The remaining manufacturing activities of the company’s Unifi Textured Yarns Europe division, which are based in Letterkenny, Ireland, will be closed by the end of October. About 300 employees there will be affected.

The company said it expects a total charge associated with these actions to be in the range of $20 to $24 million.

Unifi will continue to supply customers in the U.K. and continental Europe with yarn produced in the U.S. and through Unifi Asia.

“This facility has been unprofitable for a few years now, and although we took major steps in March this year to restructure our operations to fit anticipated market needs, it appears that the ongoing volume will be lower than we estimated, resulting in a loss again this next fiscal year,” said Fintan McGrath, president of Unifi Europe.

Unifi also announced a net loss of $11 million, or 21 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, compared to a net loss of $30.5 million, or 57 cents, in the comparable period a year ago.

For the fiscal year, the company lost $74.8 million, or $1.43 per share, after losing $27.2 million last year.

Sales for the quarter were down 7 percent to $191.7 million from $206.1 million.

For the year, sales were $746.5 million from $849.1 million.