A new lab and administration building (in background) of the NC Center for Applied Textile Technology is set to open any day. The centers refreshing optimism, its contributions to the U.S. textile industry and its forward-looking growth mode make it an easy choice as the featured organization in STNs 15th annual Textile South edition. Faculty and administration of the center include (L-R) Daughtry Hopper, Chip Rudisill, Dan Rhodes, Deborah Hudson, Trish Bridges, Mark Brown, Sherry Allen, Gwen Perkins, David Estridge, Scott Hunsinger, Karen Quinones, Tammy Hamilton, Doug Robinson, Cathy Wright, Doug Kiser, Meredith Bowen, Jason Ratchford, Dr. Jim Lemons and Gary Johnson.
Photo by Devin Steele
By Devin Steele
BELMONT, NC In 1941, the North Carolina General Assembly established an act to create the North Carolina Vocational Textile School here for the purpose of improving the training and enlarging the opportunities of those engaged in the textile industry.
Sixty-one years and thousands of students later, the school now called the North Carolina Center for Applied Textile Technology (NCCATT) is about to expand by more than 30 percent, with a $3.2 million, 26,000-square foot lab and administrative building scheduled to open its doors any day now. This expansion serves a purpose similar to that of the original facility, but the training and opportunities these days are available not only for those engaged in the textile industry, but others as well.
The centers primary focus, however, remains textiles and the future of the oft-maligned industry. As it has for about six decades, the Textile Center plans to play a crucial role in helping the industry remain competitive for years to come. The schools leaders are certainly optimistic of that future, as this major expansion attests.
While you ponder the centers confidence in U.S. textiles in the 21st century, you may be wondering why a textile educational institution would expand in size and scope while its domestic customer base contracts. But consider this head-scratcher: Enrollment at the school reached record proportions in 2000-01 and neared that mark in 2001-02, despite the U.S. textile industry undergoing its biggest downturn ever.
Seems illogical, yes, but administrators and overseers of the school credit the centers willingness to adapt to changes occurring in the industry for its prosperity and hopefulness.
We have to realize that the industry is becoming more global, said Dr. James Jim Lemons, the schools president of 18 years. We cant just necessarily rely on protectionism. One of the great things about our domestic industry is our ability to develop some very sophisticated, very high-tech products. And I think thats going to be key to the future of the industry.
As our customers have evolved, become more sophisticated, more highly automated, then their demands for us in terms of training their employees and helping them keep a world-class work force has certainly changed. Weve been a player for them and will continue to do so.
The Textile Centers refreshing optimism, its contributions to the U.S. textile industry and its forward-looking growth mode certainly make it an easy choice as the featured organization in STNs 15th annual Textile South edition.
The textile school was borne out of a need to train members of the largest manufacturing sector in North Carolina. Gaston County was chosen as the home of the center because it had the highest concentration of textile employees in the state, according to early documents.
In its formative years, the school offered instruction in such processes as carding, weaving, spinning, knitting and maintenance.
Though training in each of those areas is still provided, its reach has been extended to better serve the needs of the industry, the community and beyond. Its curriculum runs the gamut of training, from textile technology to computer use to professional development to NC manufacturing certification to management to work success skills. And a major attraction to many manufacturers is its customized training programs and on-site training at customers facilities, Lemons said.
At least half of the schools training is customized to a particular customers needs, Lemons said. One local company, for instance, recently asked the school to tailor an introductory yarn-making course for its non-manufacturing employees, which center staffers are currently working on.
Courses and seminars are open to students outside of textiles, though most do have ties to the industry.
A number of out-of-state and foreign students have taken courses there, but state law mandates that they must constitute no more than 10 percent of total enrollment. The school also has sent staffers to Canada to conduct training.
The big advantage of being a continuing education institution is that we charge them the same continuing education fee as if that student was from North Carolina, Lemons said.
The center, an 11-year member of the North Carolina Community College System, is governed by a Board of Trustees. Members of the board, with the exception of system President Martin Lancaster, are appointed by the governor and are members of the textile industry primarily, along with the business community and the educational realm. Max Huntley, president of Parkdale America, is board chairman.
A Technical Advisory Committee composed of more than 30 people from all areas of the textile industry is responsible for developing curriculum and providing input on marketing the school.
The center is funded primarily by the state, but thrives on support from the textile industry. Machinery manufacturers have located equipment at the school to use in training their customers, as well as students at the school. They, along with textile manufacturers, have for years provided financial backing to the school.
Weve been very blessed here in terms of the support from the industry and the equipment manufacturers over the years, Lemons said. We like to call them our business education partners.
A separate, private entity, the NCCATT Foundation, provides support for student scholarships, activities and development. Formed in 1993 by a group of textile manufacturers and businesses from across the state, the Foundation also provides assistance for faculty and staff development programs and supports them in their professional affiliations.
Besides its major function, to provide continuing education programs, the NCCATT offers two other primary services: technical assistance and business support. With the former, faculty is available to provide expertise in a number of areas, such as plant layout, operation streamlining, improving efficiency or quality, sample making and computer applications, and has rendered some of these services for textile and non-textile businesses.
Thats a good thing for us, Lemons said. It gives us some practical examples, enabling us to get out of the classroom and go out into the business community and industry and help them resolve some major or minor problems they may be facing. And it keeps us on our toes and keeps us abreast of whats happening.
Under business support services, NCCATT is available to help companies design a training plan, provide employee assessments and direct them to sources of funding for training programs.
Adapting to changes in the industry, as Lemons noted, has been crucial to the centers success.
I think were better positioned to meet the needs of the industry today than we were in the past, he said. And thats not to say that we dont need to change again or that were not in a constant state of flux or continuing to be very receptive to change.
A major shift that occurred during Lemons tenure is the schools evolution from a degree-granting institution to a continuing education institution.
We looked at what was happening in the industry and the fact that there was a declining number of employees, Lemons said. The primary thrust of the two-year degree associate program was designed to train someone to be a textile manager. As mill employees dwindled, the need for supervisors or managers has dwindled. So, right now theres more of a demand for continuing education for technicians and for other areas of textiles, such as statistical process control.
Which is partially the reason enrollment reached or neared record highs the last few years, hitting a peak of 3,657 in 2000-01, he added. Despite the fact that fewer employees work in the U.S. textile industry today, those who are left have had to be trained and retrained, as their duties have increased and technology has become more complex, he said.
As companies cut out layers of management, some of the responsibilities are rolling down to the rank-and-file employees, Lemons said. When I first started here 18 years ago, an employee in a textile mill made very few actual decisions. Their responsibilities were simply to turn the machine on, run it and turn it off.
Now, youre asking this same employee not only to operate the machine, but to make decisions about quality. They are empowered to do a lot today. So that has affected us and its affected our curriculum. We used to train someone on just how to operate the machine and how to make minor repairs to the machine. Now we train that same employee on aspects of total quality control, how not only to operate the machine but how to maintain it.
If you hire an employee in a modern textile operation today, you need someone who is educated, technically up to speed, knows something about computers, about quality and so forth.
By being a continuing education school instead of a degree-granting institution has allowed the center to expand its curriculum, as well, another reason enrollment has been on the rise, according to Huntley.
Under Jims excellent leadership, were branching out and training a lot of the industry that services the textile industry, Huntley said. The school is no longer going to teach somebody just to fix a spinner frame, but its also getting into electronics, computers, electrical plumbing, refrigerator and air conditioner systems, filtration systems and all that support equipment that goes into making a plant successful.
Also playing a role in the centers longevity and hope for the future, Lemons said, is its ability to stay on the cutting edge, technologically and educationally. The Technical Advisory Committee has played a key role in making sure the schools curriculum continually meets the industrys needs, he said.
Staying up to date also means maintaining a top-notch staff that meets certain requirements. Textile-teaching faculty, for instance, must have a minimum of five years of supervisory experience in the industry. Others must be certified in their particular area of expertise, such as Microsoft applications, Development Dimensions International (DDI), Kepner-Tregoe and certain management training programs.
About 25 permanent staff positions are supplemented by a number of contract or adjunct faculty.
Three deans oversee many activities within the school. Gwen Perkins, a 10-year veteran of the center, serves as dean of Continuing Education and Business Support Services, while Dr. Deborah Hudson is dean of administration and financial services and Scott Hunsinger is the dean of Academic Affairs and Information Technology.
Also in keeping with the times, the NCCATT has given computer classes in Spanish and on the Internet.
We just started (offering on-line courses) in January and we had about 75 people enroll, Hunsinger said.
Plans are to have an Introduction to Textiles course available on the Internet in the coming months, said Daughtry Hopper, director of Marketing and Public Relations.
Another way the center stays current is through arrangements with its equipment partners, Lemons said. These machinery makers locate machinery at the school or, in some cases, allow NCCATT faculty to use equipment at their companies. One fiber producer, Wellman, Inc., even gives school staffers access to its lab and equipment for training purposes.
A lot of the major equipment manufacturers have been wonderful over the years of supplying us with state-of-the-art or near state-of-the-art equipment, which is beneficial in keeping us up to speed on whats out there, Lemons said. One of the benefits to these manufacturers is it gives their machinery and their companies exposure. So its a win-win relationship.
The Textile Center also is in a number of other programs. Most recently, 11 U.S. Customs agents spent two days at the center undergoing intense training in identifying fibers and fabrics and how theyre manufactured, as part of the National Border Security Act aimed at helping them police illegal textile and apparel trade.
The school has been asked by the Department of Commerce to develop an in-depth technical manual and video to complement the course, as well as to create an audit process aimed at calculating a countrys textile-producing capacity. More Customs agents are due in for training in October.
The NCCATT also has a cooperative arrangement with other members of the NC Community College System, as well as with several universities with textile programs. Under this arrangement, NCCATT has been providing leads to students or companies seeking textile training that is out of the realm of other schools.
The school also has enjoyed success through a fairly new program called the Homework, Experimental, Learning Program (H.E.L.P.). Through two semesters, about 55 middle school students have participated in the initiative, which gives them the opportunity to use the schools facilities for supplementing their education two hours a night, four nights a week during the school year, according to Perkins.
Teachers from the Gaston County Public School System oversee the program, and volunteer tutors are available to help students with their homework. Hunsingers staff set up a computer lab for students to access the Internet for research purposes.
The program is free to students and funded through the NCCATT Foundation.
Our foundations funding predominantly comes from textile companies and textile representatives, Perkins said. We made certain that parents understood that the funding for that was being provided by the textile industry.
Meanwhile, through its Work Success Skills program, the school has offered free retraining classes for laid-off employees. Perkins and Hopper developed the curriculum, which includes such topics as self-esteem assessment, making transitions, resume writing, job search and interview skills, computer training and overcoming barriers to employment.
The center also has devoted a lot of time to its Whats Next community service program for lawbreakers, Lemons said, with offenders performing menial tasks around the school to fulfill court-ordered obligations.
We tried to take what could be a negative and turn it into a positive, Lemons said. We had one young man who had gone through that program call us some time later to say thanks and that he had turned his life around, earned his college degree and had a good job now.
Many of these programs came about as a result of Lemonss seeking out opportunities, Huntley said.
Jim has done a fantastic job, he said. Hes always looking for new ways, new courses and new opportunities for the school. For example, he went out and was very active in recruiting these Customs agents that trained there. Jim is very aggressive about going after things like that. He stays very attuned to whats happening and he takes advantage of any and every opportunity that he sees to promote that school. Hes a real asset to us.
Among the schools greatest successes is taking its rightful place in the states community college system in 1991, Lemons said.
We were finally recognized by a system for what we had done in the past and what we were capable of doing, he said. For a long, long time we were sort of off in left-field here. I dont think thats the case at all now.
Lemons defers taking any credit for being added to the system, instead calling it a collaborative effort between the Board of Trustees, the textile industry and the faculty and staff of the school.
Being a part of the community college system has allowed the NCCATT to participate in cooperative programs with 37 of 58 community colleges in the state, facilitated work with textile schools at NC State and Clemson University and helped it gain training and development opportunities for companies in other states, Lemons said.
We are recognized as a quality institution, a true economic development resource for this state, he said. We are seen as a big player. We have the Department of Commerce calling down here every couple of weeks and talking about opportunities for training employees for potential foreign textile operations in the state.
Another achievement although Lemons calls it a work in progress is the NCCATTs work in helping to improve the image of the textile industry, he said. He said he has made it his mission to inform everyone he can that the textile industry is not to blame for every negative statistic you read in the newspaper.
There are people here in Gaston County who believe that if it werent for the textile industry, that everybody here would be a Harvard graduate, he said. Theres nothing further from the truth. The textile industry has made a wonderful opportunity for a lot of people who migrated here, who came out of agriculture, out of the mountains, and it has created a whole new way of life for people over the years. And the textile industry should be applauded.
With so many people taking classes at the center, theyre bound to leave with a better understanding of the industrys contribution to the economy and the areas way of life, Lemons added.
Weve had several hundred Gaston County school teachers who have attended classes here, he said. I really believe that has helped change the image of this industry with the public school system. And thats a starting point.
Students taking courses such as electrical maintenance, even if they never take a job in the textiles sector, at least they leave the NCCATT with some exposure to the industry, he said.
Theyll know that the industry has some good people in it and some high-tech machinery, Lemons said. Theyre not out there with this Norma Rae image.
Where is the domestic textile industry headed? No one knows for sure, but the NC Center for Applied Textile Technology plans to stay in lock-step with it, Lemons said.
I think youre going to have a lot of companies that are going to say, well, in order to exist, do we necessarily continue to manufacture products here, or do we access products globally? Should we use our marketing expertise to sell our product instead? I hope a lot of our textile products will be made here and I definitely think the high-tech type things will be. But I think commodity-type textiles are going to gravitate to some other areas of the world.
What does that mean for us? Well, I think we have to be flexible to offer training on a world-class basis and perhaps even internationally.
The NCCATT is on the verge of opening the doors of its new $3.2 million lab equipment/administration building. The 26,000-square-foot facility will house three equipment demonstration labs, two computer labs geared toward training, a physical testing lab, administrative offices and a 150-seat auditorium.
Photo by Wes Chaney
By Devin Steele
BELMONT, NC The North Carolina Center for Applied Textile Technology (NCCATT) is on the verge of opening the doors to its new $3.2 million lab equipment/administration building here.
The facility, located beside its 60-year-old existing building, will add about 30 percent more capacity to its existing facilities. The 26,000-square-foot facility will house three equipment demonstration labs, two computer labs geared toward training, a physical testing lab, administrative offices and a 150-seat auditorium.
The opening has been long awaited by school staffers, customers and its Board of Trustees. The North Carolina legislature approved $2 million for the building in 1999, but initial bids exceeded the allocated funds and the project was put on hold. In late 2000, a bond referendum provided additional funds to complete the project.
The addition, the schools first since 1974, will help the center better meet the needs of the textile industry and its suppliers, according to NCCATT President Dr. James Lemons. Several machinery manufacturers already have committed to locating equipment in the demonstration labs.
The new labs will allow us to really reach out to some of those equipment manufacturers to offer them an opportunity to physically locate some of their equipment here and for us to enter into business education partnerships, where we can help them in terms of promoting their equipment and helping them to do some R&D type work here, Lemons said.
At the same time, he added, its helping us by giving us access to the state-of-the-art equipment for training purposes.
A major drawback to the existing facility is that it is multi-level, which makes the process of moving equipment in and out quite tedious, expensive and nerve-wracking, he added. A large loading dock will adjoin the back of the new building and machinery will be located on the bottom level.
We will be able to get equipment in and out very easily, Lemons said. So were hoping that, as new generations of equipment emerge, well always have state-of-the-art equipment there.
The facility will also better position the center to offer training to textile manufacturers and machinery makers, he added.
The auditorium was designed to accommodate seminars and training, complete with capital equipment on stage, if necessary. A large door on the ground level will allow large machinery to be easily transported inside.
The auditorium also is wired so that presentations can be recorded and broadcast via the Internet or through videoconferencing to other locations.
That will be a tremendous asset to equipment manufacturers and textile manufacturers who now are sending technicians and users here for training, Lemons said.
100 percent state funded
26,000 square feet
150 seat auditorium
three state-of-the-art equipment labs
A physical testing lab
two computer labs
WGM Design, architects
Randolph & Sons, general contractor
PC Godfrey, Inc., HVAC & plumbing
Dallas Electrical, electrical
Perkins received a B.S. degree in textile chemistry from NC State University and has done graduate studies in textile chemistry and education at NC State and Winthrop University
She was a member of the first graduating class of the World View Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is currently enrolled in the Non-Profit Management Certificate Program at Duke University and is a graduate of the NC Community College Leadership Program.
Perkins has been in the NC Community College System for a total of almost 10 years and has spent more than 20 years in manufacturing management in various capacities, including plant manager of one of the largest dyeing facilities in the U.S.
Perkins is currently a member of the Gaston County Job Ready Partnership Council and the Charlotte Region Force Development Partnership and serves on the board of the Carolinas Textile Club and on the NC Committee for Textile Competitiveness.
Besides her position as a dean, Hudson is an adjunct instructor at Gaston College and Winthrop University, teaching such subjects as computer science, accounting, management and business communications.
Previously, she served in healthcare administration, specializing in ob/gyn and dermatology and dermatapathology.
Hudson holds an associate of arts degree from Gaston College (1979), a secondary education degree from UNC Charlotte (1989), an M.B.A. from Winthrop University (1995) and a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Clemson University (2001).
Certifications include Senior Professional in Human Resources, Lifetime Designee and a North Carolina Teacher Certification, along with computer certifications MOUS (by Microsoft) and Unix (by IBM).
She is a member of the Association of Community College & Business Officials, the Society for Human Resource Management, the North Carolina Association of Institutional Research and the Employers Association of Charlotte, NC.
Hudson is on the HR Advisory Board of the American Red Cross, the Allocation Advisory Board and the Speakers Bureau of the United Way, the EMBA Advisory Board of Winthrop University and the Textile Advisory Committee of the NC Department of Commerce.
Hunsinger has trained about 2,000 students on a variety of computer software programs during his six years at the school.
He received a B.S. in business administration from UNC Charlotte in May 1994, with a major in management information systems (magna cum laude). He earned his M.B.A. degree in May 1996, also from UNC Charlotte, with a concentration in information technology. He plans to complete his Ph.D. in information technology at UNC Charlotte in 2003.
Before arriving at NCCATT, Hunsinger worked at Microsoft Corporation in Charlotte, NC. While at Microsoft, he became a Microsoft Certified Professional in both Windows and Excel. He was one of the first employees at Microsoft to obtain these certifications.
He is also a Microsoft Office User Specialist (MOUS) at the Master level, the highest certification in both Microsoft Office 97 and 2000. In addition, he is also certified as a Master Instructor for the MOUS computer courses.
Hunsinger is a member of the Charlotte Region Workforce Development Partnership and the Regional Information Technology Consortium. He is an honorary member of Beta Gamma Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi and Golden Key National Honor Society.
A yarn manufacturing class is taught during the early days.
1941: Chapter 360 of the Public Laws of North Carolina establishes the Textile School Commission
1942: State Board of Vocational Education appoints first Board of Trustees: Richard L. Harris, lieutenant governor; Otis M. Mull, speaker of the House; Charles A. Cannon, president, Cannon Mills; T. E. Browne, state director of vocational education; James B. Vogler, House of Representatives; George W. Coggin, state Board of Vocational Education; M. L. Rhodes, assistant state supervisor of Trade and Industrial Education
1943: Building completed. M. L. Rhodes, assistant state supervisor of trade and industrial education, named as first superintendent
First classes begin on September 1
1944: The school officially dedicated on June 3 by Gov. Broughton
1945: First diploma awarded, to Mr. E. R. Abernathy
1946: First extension efforts in adjoining counties
High school students transported by bus to attend classes
1947: First Advisory Board established
1957: First evening classes offered
First continuing education classes offered (Douglas Aircraft, Homelite)
1960: First addition to the building completed (east wing)
1961: State Director of Vocation Education, Dr. Gerald James, becomes an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees
First foreign students admitted, sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training
1963: First discussions with Walter Wray, director of the Gastonia Trade and Industrial Education center, on an agreement not to duplicate courses
First African-American students enrolled
1964: First extension course offered out-of-state (sponsored by the Hazelton Area Joint School System, Hazelton, PA)
1969: Gift Fund established to gain private support of the institution
1971: First associate degree program, Textile Manufacturing Technology, offered
West wing addition completed
1972: The institution is administratively attached to the Department of Community Colleges
1973: First associate degree awarded, to Jesus J. Avila
1991: Senate Bill 280 creates the N.C. Center for Applied Textile Technology
The institution becomes a member of the NC Community College System
1991: The president of the NC Community College System becomes an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees
1996: Applied to the State Board for program approval (conversion of program to semester system)
Dr. James Lemons, president of the NCCATT, is a man of many letters.
Photo by Devin Steele
By Devin Steele
BELMONT, NC Dr. James Lemons spent some of his early days as president of the North Carolina Center for Applied Textile Technology (NCCATT) here questioning his decision to take the position.
The building was in a poor shape and had a nice, dungeon-like quality to it, he said. Due to low funding for supplies, staff members were having to take up collections to buy wax with which they would shine the floors and also were required to bring their own toilet paper.
Not a good, professional environment for an organization he was hoping to take to the next level, he thought.
A couple of weeks into his job, those doubts reached a boiling point when he casually leaned on an air conditioning unit in his office. A moment later, it was lying on the grass in front of the building.
Confident in part because he had another job offer at a bank, a fuming Lemons called John Harney Jr., who, as chairman of the centers Board of Trustees, had hired him.
John, youve got to do something about this. This is absolutely hideous.
Calm down, Jim.
If you dont do something, to hell with this.
Well take care of it, Jim.
So Lemons sweat it out literally while it was taken care of. Soon, his doubts about his latest career move would also fly out the window.
Harney, then president of Lineberger Mills here, sent his companys maintenance supervisor, William Dub Price, and a crew over to clean, paint and repair the building and to firmly secure the air conditioner. They also re-carpeted Lemonss office with remnants of carpet that had been installed in the White House and was donated by Pharr Yarns, which made the yarn that went into it.
Having a piece of the presidents carpet here evidently appeased me enough to stay, Lemons recently said with a grin.
Today, Lemons calls it the best career decision I couldve ever made.
The Textile Center has come a long way since those days 18 years ago, in part because of Lemonss leadership, according to several of his colleagues. In 1991, the school was elected into the membership of the North Carolina Community College System, which Lemons said is one of the best things to ever happen to the center. Student enrollment, which was flagging during Lemonss early days, has been hitting or hovering around record highs in recent years.
What really intrigued me about the position was that I saw this as a diamond in the rough, he said. I thought there was a real good opportunity to take this school and go forward with it. I could tell that members of the Board of Trustees were really interested in turning the school around. I dont mean to say it was totally down and out, but it was in a pretty sad state of affairs as far as repairs to the school, and enrollment was down terribly, so it was a challenge to me.
Reading that story, some may call Jim Lemons brazen that, he wont deny. He calls himself a bottom-line guy who speaks his mind but also tries to create a pleasing work environment.
He refers to his leadership style as management by walking around, with a little bit of lets make a deal.
By that, he said he means that, for most employees, he is able to build consensus and develop a team approach by communicating with them often and asking for their input. For others, though, he finds himself playing Monte Hall, where deal-making entails his laying out a game plan for them and, in exchange, they follow his instructions to a T.
That way, if things go awry they simply say, OK, Dr. Lemons, you cant blame me. I did exactly what you asked me to do. And I understand that, Lemons said.
I wish people came out of cookie cutters, so you could apply some kind of style consistently with everybody, but unfortunately they threw the mold away when they developed employees, he added. What will work with one will not work with the other and I have simply tried to do what works best with each individual. I do not claim to have any expertise in human psychology whatsoever. I just apply common sense, more than anything else.
Gwen Perkins, the schools dean of Continuing Education and Business Support Services, added that Lemons is good at recognizing peoples individual strengths and blending those into a good team.
A lot of his effectiveness comes from his personality and being able to comfortably speak with people at all levels, said Perkins, who has known Lemons since their college days at N.C. State about 30 years ago.
Lemons has tried to foster an atmosphere of teamwork and a certain level of comfort within a collegiate atmosphere, he said. Many are at ease in that environment but not all, he said.
There are probably some people here who feel a little uncomfortable, Lemons said. I think if everybody in an organization really feels comfortable, that leads to a lot of complacency.
As an educational administrator, as well as a college professor, Lemons doesnt have an instruction kit to help him be an effective leader, he said. He has something of a wayward streak, and he likes to blend humor and good storytelling ability with a business-like approach, he said, something that may be unique in the stuffed-shirt world of academia.
Maybe Ill credit my grandfather for some of that, he said. He had a little bit of the devil in him and I think Ive always had a little bit of the devil in me.
Added Perkins: Not mean devil, but mischievous devil. Theres never a dull day around Jim.
Lemons said that, in life, you should work hard, as well as play hard.
Sometimes you can separate the two, but often I find some way to laugh everyday at what happens here, he said. People are funny. If you try to find some humor every day or laugh a little bit, it sure does make things a lot easier.
I think most of the people Ive worked with over the years will find that, sometimes, my little devilish streak has been in fun and a lot of it is trying to see if I cant combine business and pleasure, to some extent. I think you can be effective in a job, do a great job for a company and still find some pleasure in what youre doing. I really think youve got to laugh every day. If you dont, you might as well hang it up. The world would be a miserable place.
On the other hand, Lemons has a serious side thats just as profound as his humorous side, he said.
Some people may say that I dont care if the sun comes up in the morning, he said, but I very much do care if the sun comes up. I have great empathy and great concern for a lot of people who are hurting right now in our industry, people I have worked with for years and what the future holds for them. I take that deadly serious.
Much of what makes Lemons tick is the influence his family had on him as a child, he said. His grandfather, Jesse James McGuire who he credits with passing to him that devilish streak and who was named after the outlaw perhaps had the greatest impact on his life, he said.
My grandfather was one of the smartest individuals I ever met, although he had only a third-grade education, said Lemons, who with his mother moved in with his grandparents after her divorce from his father, when Lemons was about 7 or 8. He taught me a great deal about life. He had a way with me that no one else ever had. My mother tried to discipline me by taking away privileges and she tried direct punishment. Conversely, all my grandfather had to do was just cut his eyes at me and that was the end of it.
McGuire had another way of keeping his grandson on the straight and narrow, Lemons recalled: His own brand of psychology. He related the story about the time his grandfather drove him back to college he typically hitchhiked back and forth without letting on that he knew about his grandsons secret smoking habit.
He didnt smoke, but he put a quarter into the cigarette machine at the end of the dorm hall, reached down and pulled the handle and a pack of Winstons fell out, Lemons said. And he turned around and threw the cigarette pack and hit me upside the head and said, I think this is your brand, isnt it?, then turned around and walked away. That was his way of telling me, you better quit smoking.
He was not going to go through a lecture or threaten me. The fact that he walked away from me, I felt hurt and knowing I had disappointed my grandfather had more profound effect on me than anything else.
To this day, family members still pay Lemons the highest compliment, he said, by telling him he reminds them of his grandfather.
Lemonss mother eventually remarried and, after his grandfathers death, his stepfather, Henry Ray Kelly, would take on the father-figure role for Lemons, he said. Hes a great guy, Lemons said.
Manufacturing, particularly textiles, is imprinted in his family heritage. He grew up in a mill house near the Virginia border in Eden, NC, where many of his family members were employed in either the textile, furniture or tobacco industry.
His mother, Marian Lemons, inserted wires into electric blankets at Fieldcrest Mills, and became something of a legend at the company, her son said.
That operation was called shuttling and most people could only do it right-handed, Lemons said. But she could do it right-handed or left-handed. They called it double-shuttling when she did it and, being on a piece rate, she was knocking down pretty good money, as a result.
In addition, Lemonss grandfather spent more than 20 years each at Fieldcrest and Tultex, overseeing the maintenance area.
Though he worked in textile plants himself during the summers of his college years, he didnt aspire to ever work in the industry at least not until his junior year, when he transferred from the engineering program to textiles at N.C. State. His experience in the cloth room, the dye house and the maintenance areas of textile companies was invaluable, he said.
It gave me great exposure to the industry and the people in the industry, he said. I could relate to it because a lot of them were just like my family members salt-of-the-earth people, people you enjoyed being around.
Always a good student despite that wayward streak that got him in trouble more than once in college Lemons graduated in 1970 with a degree in textile technology and went on to earn a masters degree in education from the school. Later, he would earn an MBA from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D from the University of South Carolina.
While in graduate school, he was awarded a $1,500 research grant by the School of Textiles at N.C. State to conduct a five-month study about cotton yarn manufacturing costs and production rates. A newspaper article about that award mentions that he planned to work in the community college system in North Carolina after graduation, though it actually was more than a decade later that he would do that.
Along the way, he would hold positions as personnel and operations manager for a department store chain, industrial engineer for an apparel company and assistant vice president of a bank.
He was teaching economics and business courses at N.C. State when the NCCATT came knocking. Though he wasnt looking for a job, Dame Hamby, then dean of textiles at State, encouraged him to at least give a listen to the folks at the Textile Center, who were looking for a new president.
To tell you the truth, I had never heard of this school, Lemons said. I came in not really wanting the job. I wasnt trying to be arrogant or cocky and maybe I came off that way but I was like well, Ive got a job and Im really not looking for one.
John (Harney) said that that came out in the interview, that I was probably one of the most honest and straightforward persons they talked to because I wasnt really trying to impress them. I was just talking from the heart and how I felt about education and working with people in the vocational, technical education area.
Harney, who died last year after more than 20 years as chairman of the Board of Trustees, gave Lemons a good piece of advice early in his career at the Textile Center: That no matter how much you learn about what goes on inside customers companies and their plants, that information is confidential.
John said that if you ever break that trust, that confidence, youll never get it back and you better understand that from the get-go, Lemons recalled.
NCCATT faculty works with many industry competitors, some of whom locate equipment next to each other at the school, but I dont think in my 18 years that theres ever been a situation where we ever broke someones trust or made someone feel uncomfortable allowing us into their facility or putting their equipment into ours.
Another person who greatly influenced the way Lemons conducts business is former NC Governor Bob Scott, he said. Scott, who headed the community college system after his term in the Governors Mansion, often advised Lemons on how to more effectively reach the legislature.
He always encouraged me and never let me get despondent about what was happening, Lemons said.
Scott gave Lemons advice on how to educate the states elected officials about the merits of the school, which was often overshadowed by the public universities and community colleges, he said.
Scott told Lemons: You have to teach them that they can tote more than one pail of water. You dont necessarily have to go to Raleigh all the time and constantly bug these people. Make your point, be succinct, thank them for the level of support they give you, make them feel like if youre doing something thats good for your customer, its got to be good for their constituents.
Being a member of the Southern Textile Association has also had a great impact on Lemons, he added.
That experience of being around some of the leaders in our industry has been invaluable to me, he said. Thats a wonderful organization. The networking you have there, the contacts you make, the quality of people ... you really get a feel for what the textile business is really all about. Its a business that really has some fine, fine people involved in it.
Given Lemonss affable nature, you may expect that he would be most comfortable at a social gathering a football game or a play, perhaps, but thats not exactly the case. Hes more at ease when he can get in his black Tundra pickup truck, pop in a Brooks & Dunn CD, find a trout stream and cast a line, he said. Jim time is important to him, even if that entails just being alone at the office after hours, when the phones are silent and the knocks on the door have stopped.
His mother nicknamed him The Lone Wolf years ago, which his wife Vicki still calls him from time to time.
People tend to think of me as being a very social animal, very people oriented, Lemons said. And I like people. I enjoy being around people. Im not saying I want to go up the mountaintop by myself and be a hermit. But Im a pretty private person who likes to think.
By Devin Steele
BELMONT, NC The North Carolina Center for Applied Textile Technology (NCCATT) has helped open doors for thousands of students over the years.
Among them: Larry Eidson.
Eidson (pronounced ED-i-son) credits the center for providing him opportunities he wouldnt have had otherwise. But his success story goes much deeper than that.
Eidson, you see, may have never earned a degree from the school were it not for his young daughter. She gave him the need to succeed and vice versa.
Heres how: Shortly after Eidson enrolled at the school in 1997, his daughter Julian, then 7, was diagnosed with leukemia.
For most of us, that kind of pressure would be plenty reason to put educational goals on hold, huh? And Eidson considered it, yes. But, once the initial shock was over, he soon made a pact with Julian that, if she would get better, he would finish school.
She did and he did.
Not that it was easy for either of them. Julian endured almost two years of various types of treatments before the leukemia was declared in remission. Her dad, meanwhile, juggled responsibilities of working full time and going to school full time, not to mention helping his wife Elizabeth with a younger son and helping with doctor appointments, grocery shopping, etc.
I had to make a decision early on, said Eidson, now training specialist for X-Rite in Grandville, MI. Was I going to stick with it or not? I decided to stick with it because school was something that I could control. How well things went was totally up to me, whereas other things in my life were not in my control.
Plus, my daughter and I looked at it like, your goal is to get better; my goal is to finish school.
Eidson spent two years working toward an associates degree in textile management and textile science but not without moments of weakness.
Id be lying if I said it wasnt hard to do everything, but, to be honest with you, there were times I felt like giving up, he said.
But he kept remembering the pact he had with his daughter, he said.
These days, 11-year-old Julian is cancer-free and, if she stays that way for three more years, shell be given a clean bill of health, Eidson said.
Eidson had decided to enroll at the Textile Center soon after taking a job with CIBA Specialty Chemicals in Charlotte, NC. He had had some experience in color management, which would be his primary responsibility, but he only brought a high school diploma to the job.
They were in a real bind and they hired me for a position that normally required a four-year degree, he said.
Once he joined the company and realized all the duties the job entailed and what it would take for him to earn promotions, he knew he would need to further his education, so he enrolled in the textile degree program at the NCCATT.
One of the reasons I went back to school was because I wanted to better provide for my family, which is also something that kept me motivated when I felt like quitting, he said.
Eidson remained with CIBA while in school but, after earning his degree, was given a better opportunity as lab manager at Datacolor in Charlotte.
When Datacolor later announced staff cutbacks, Eidsons job would be affected, but he was asked to stay on for a few months to run the lab. He agreed, with the understanding that he would be looking for another job, he said.
He applied for a position at X-Rite and was made an offer, which he initially declined because he would be required to move to Michigan. He was then made a second offer he couldnt refuse, he said.
So in February 2001, the native North Carolinian relocated to Grandville, leaving his wife and children behind until their house sold. After 17 months and a For Sale sign still standing in the yard Elizabeth Eidson took a job in customer service at X-Rite, packed up the kids and moved north to be with her husband.
Larry Eidson has since been promoted from applications specialist to training specialist at X-Rite, which manufactures instruments for color measurement and software for quality control formulation.
His experience at the Textile Center has now come full circle. He has been able, on several occasions, to return to the school to teach courses for the companys Charlotte employees. The two-day workshops include color management and color theory.
The school has been invaluable to my career, Eidson said. The instructors and administrators really encouraged me throughout my time as a student there and it has helped me tremendously. I cant say enough good about the school and I use every occasion possible to tell others about it.
By Devin Steele
BELMONT, NC Several textile manufacturers and machinery makers that have used the services of the North Carolina Center for Applied Textile Technology (NCCATT) here say the school has made and will continue to make a vital contribution to the U.S. textile industry.
I think it is very important to this industry, said Bill Gray, sales manager for Murata Machinery USA, Inc. and a member of one of the centers boards. There is still a lot of textile industry within a 100-mile radius of Belmont. As many of them reverse field and continue to downsize and cut back, the Textile Center will take on even greater importance to them. That place can be a focal point for the industry.
He added this footnote: I do believe there is going to be an American textile industry, but the size is going to be smaller.
Murata, as many other equipment manufacturers, for years has located equipment at the center to use for training purposes. Among them, Schlafhorst also has a long-standing relationship with the school.
We see it as a major resource for the textile industry, said Bill Tate, director of customer support for Saurer Group, Schlafhorsts parent. With the continuing competition from offshore, you have to do more with fewer people, so the people we have must be better prepared, better trained than ever before.
Not to mention more technologically savvy, which the NCCATT is well-suited to help produce. The centers curriculum goes well beyond teaching basic textile manufacturing processes, with such courses as electronics, computer technology, HVAC and filtration on the docket, to name a few.
You have more higher skilled people now in our industry, said Danny Reece, human resources manager for National Textiles in nearby Gastonia, NC. Technicians dont carry an adjustable wrench and a screwdriver in their pocket anymore. Back when I was a fixer, you did that. But everythings electronic and computerized now. The knowledge the school provides this industry and the technical training are absolutely necessary to compete these days.
Reece added that the school will become a primary force in the success of the domestic textile industry, for the simple reason of education and training.
Thats where the forefathers in our business may have dropped the ball, he said. They may have been too fat, dumb and happy 35 or 40 years ago to look at the long haul and the importance of investing in new equipment, education and training.
Reece, who has a chemical engineering degree, enrolled in a degree program at the school in 1984 and, after several years of taking night classes, earned an associates degree in textile management. He, too, predicts that textiles has a future in this country.
I do believe theres going to be a leveling off and then an upswing in the textile business, from the standpoint of new fibers and new garments, he said. I read recently where a new fabric has been developed with an enzyme that cleans itself. They wont be able to do that kind of stuff in China.
Textile manufacturer Carolina Mills, based in Maiden, NC, and with plants in Gaston County, also has used the schools services for decades, according to Steve Dobbins Jr., company president. The school has been a major resource for training its first-line supervisors, department heads and plant managers, through either degree or continuing education programs, he said.
In the midst of all the changes in our industry, we believe the center is more important than ever, Dobbins said. Technology, people skills, R&D items etc. will have to move more quickly to the plant floor. The ability to communicate and effect change will depend on a never-ending learning and educational effort.
He added that the centers ability to provide information and training to government and elected officials is of tremendous importance, he added, citing the recent training of U.S. Customs agents at the school.
Lee Thomas Jr., executive vice president of Parkdale America, Gastonia, NC, and a member of the schools Board of Trustees, said his company has sent numerous employees to the school over the years. Training has occurred in a wide variety of areas, including computers, Spanish, supervisory, human resources, yarn manufacturing, statistical process control, electricity and HVAC, among others.
I think the center is extremely vital to our industry, Thomas said. It is the only institution left that focuses totally on textile manufacturing and job specific training.
Another long-time customer, Pharr Yarns, uses the center for various purposes, including an extensive technician training program that takes at least a couple of years to complete.
Ive probably been the biggest fan of the school for many years, said Pharrs Steve Rankin, corporate training manager. Theyve helped us tremendously. We can see results.
Rankin said he gets calls weekly from companies around the country offering to provide training services for his company. Rankins response: Not a chance.
We have right in our backyard a school that specializes in textiles, he said. And being a community college, it has the advantage of cost over these companies.
Rankin added that he wouldnt want to ponder a future without the NCCATT.
Many of their instructors have years of textile experience, he said. Id hate to be a corporate training manager for Pharr Yarns without a Textile Center to call.
Reel-Tex, a supplier of lab equipment for knitting machines, has located machinery at the center, which it uses to train current or potential customers.
Its a good place for us because you can go to the center and be away from other facilities, said the companys Jack Barbee. Its a facility that fits the textile industry like no other place does.
Likewise, Susie Brown, vice president of human resources for R.L. Stowe Mills, Inc. of Belmont, said the school has been essential in filling the companys training needs.
I think the school is even more critical to the industry now, as a lot of companies are forced to reduce their own internal training resources, said Brown, who has also taken courses at the school. Its very convenient for us, being in the same town. Its affordable, quality training and we have really taken advantage of it over the years.
Kurt Scholler, CEO of American Truetzschler, Charlotte, NC, brought up another aspect of the Textile Center that he considers important: Its role in helping to improve the image of the industry.
There has been a lot of misinformation about the industry over the years, said Scholler, whose fiber-preparation machinery company also has located capital equipment at the school. One of the biggest damages to the industry has not been done by the China or by Pakistan, but by Sally Field. That movie (Norma Rae) was one of the biggest damages done to the textile industry because everybody has that bad picture in their mind when they hear textiles. So lets blame Hollywood for being part of the problem.
But when people take classes there from outside the industry, they see that textile machinery and equipment is not some kind of medieval type of equipment, but highly modern, high-tech equipment.
One of the problems I have with the mainstream media when they talk about textiles is they always refer back to the 1920s and 30s, he said. They dont realize that equipment doesnt look like that any longer. We have new equipment and theres more technology in the textile industry probably than any other industry. The Textile Center is helping to change that perception.
Several machinery companies are planning to locate even more equipment with constant updates at the school when the new 26,000-square-foot laboratory and administration building opens, which could happen as early as this week. The new building was laid out with machinery customers in mind, allowing easy access of equipment in and out, according to NCCATT President Dr. James Lemons.
Schlafhorst has reached an agreement with the school to relocate all of its customer training at the new facility, according to Tate. Locating equipment at the center and conducting training there is mutually beneficial, to both parties, he added.
One of the big benefits is its a facility without the costs of owning a facility, he said. Our costs are in the equipment, the updates, the upkeep, etc., but thats something the school doesnt have to bear, so its good for both sides. Plus, when they need it, they have access to the equipment for other training and we have access to it on a customer basis.
Carolina Mills Dobbins added that groups that he is a part of the Southern Textile Association (STA) and the American Yarn Spinners Association (AYSA), for instance plan to make the most of the new auditorium thats included in the expansion.
We hope to have larger gatherings of trade associations there, he said, adding that his company also will continue to take advantage of the center for such purposes as fabric analysis, yarn development, machinery evaluations, trials and research and development.
Parkdales Thomas added that the STA already has scheduled its Piedmont Division fall meeting at the new auditorium in October.
Nationals Reece, who is president of the schools Foundation Board, said he is excited about the new addition.
We have a very nice building now, but the new one will be even better, he said. Dr. Lemons fought for that in Raleigh to get that for us. For all the negative things thats happening in the industry, this school is a big boost, not just for North Carolina, but for the textile industry throughout the United States.
BOSTON As a means of speaking in one clear voice in Washington, the Northern Textile Association (NTA) and the Knitted Textile Association (KTA) announced last week their intention to merge, validating recent rumors.
The new entity will be called the National Textile Association and will represent about 175 companies, the two organizations said.
In related trade association news, fabric maker Guilford Mills, Inc., Greensboro, NC, has decided not to renew its membership with the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), in large part because of disagreement over trade issues, according to reports.
In a release about the NTA-KTA merger, KTA President John Emrich, president and CEO, Guilford Mills, said, Im extremely pleased with this decision. The merger between KTA and the NTA is another important step in solidifying the textile industry so that it can speak with one clear voice to Washington. This merger is a positive move that will help all of our members.
Karl Spilhaus, who since 1979 has headed the Northern Textile Association, will be president of the National Textile Association. He expressed excitement over the prospect of bringing NTAs significant Washington and research capability to bear to a much larger segment of the U.S. textile industry.
The functions of KTA will continue under the NTA umbrella. The Official Resource Guide published by KTA will continue to be published by the National Textile Association and will be expanded to include weavers and other textile companies, the groups said in a release.
In these times, when individual companies are retrenching and redefining, it is highly appropriate that these two organizations, each with a long history, consolidate to better represent the interest of American textile companies, said Jonathan Stevens, president of Ames Textile Corporation, Lowell, MA, who noted the national reach of the new organization which will have members in 31 states.
The Northern Textile Association was formed in 1854 and became known as the National Association of Cotton Manufacturers, adopting the Northern Textile name in 1954. The Knitted Textile Association was formed in 1966 to address the specific concerns of American knitting mills.
The National Textile Association will have members in every sector of the American textile industry processors of fiber, spinners, knitters and weavers, and companies that dye print and finish fabrics. The new organization will be based here.
The membership of the Northern Textile Association is expected to ratify the merger at the groups annual meeting September 22-24, in Scarborough, ME.
The 2003 annual meeting of the National Textile Association will be held at a location in the South to be announced and future meetings will alternate between the North and South.
In the release, Roger Milliken, chairman and CEO of Milliken and Co., Spartanburg, SC, which has been active in both the KTA and the NTA, said, Two hard-working groups have joined to form one strong effective voice for the American textile industry.
Earlier this year, Milliken, with UNITE union leader Bruce Raynor and George Shuster of Rhode Island-based converter Cranston Print Works, created the American Textile Trade Action Coalition (AATCC) aimed at lobbying efforts to preserve jobs in the U.S. textile and apparel industry.
Two years ago, Milliken dropped his longtime membership to ATMI over policy disputes.
According to reports, former Guilford Chairman Chuck Hayes, who died last month and served as ATMI president last year, had informed ATMI in June of Guilfords plans to withdraw from the organization.
WASHINGTON, DC The American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have formally agreed to establish an alliance to promote safe and healthful working conditions for textile industry employees.
Best practices derived from ATMIs Quest for the Best Program is also an important element of the alliance, ATMI said in a release. John Henshaw, assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health, and ATMI President Parks Shackelford signed the agreement.
I congratulate ATMI for demonstrating its commitment to safety and health, said Henshaw. This alliance helps demonstrate that safety and health add value to the workplace and to the individual worker, and its an important feature in our commitment to cooperative efforts with other groups and organizations to improve workplace safety.
According to the agreement, the alliance will provide ATMI members with information and guidance to help protect employees health and safety, particularly in producing and preventing hazards in the textile workplace. ATMI and OSHA will also join in an outreach and communications effort, seeking opportunities to jointly develop and disseminate information through print and electronic media, particularly using the ATMI and OSHA Web sites.
ATMI members will be encouraged to consider OSHAs cooperative programs such as compliance assistance and the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP).
Representatives from ATMI and OSHA will form a team to develop a plan of action, determine working procedures and identify the roles and responsibilities of the participants. The team will meet regularly to evaluate the program and provide information on activities and results in achieving the goals of the alliance.
WASHINGTON, DC The American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), in conjunction with the Uniform Code Council (UCC), announced an electronic commerce conference on Global Standards Management and its future direction for U.S. manufacturers, September 17 in Charlotte, NC.
The all-day event will take place at the Embassy Suites Hotel on Interstate 77 at Billy Graham Parkway, with registration beginning at 8 a.m. and the program at 9 a.m. The conference agenda, with speakers and topics, and registration information are available on ATMIs Web site at www.atmi.org. Those who plan to attend are encouraged to register early since space is limited.
The sessions will focus on the new Global Standards Management Process (GSMP) within the EAN.UCC. Topics will include keys to supply chain management in support of Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), product identification, VICS Routing Guide Standard, XML e-business solutions based on the EAN.UCC XML schemas and EDI over the Internet.
One million subscribers presently use this new Global Language of Business to streamline supply chain management in areas such as global locations and asset management. This conference is open to the textile industry and its suppliers, the apparel industry and other consumer goods producers such as furniture.
The advent of this new and powerful business process encourages companies, especially medium- and small-sized, to adopt the next generation of global business standards.
Robert Schroeder of JC Penney will facilitate an open discussion at the end of the conference.
NCC selects cotton leadership class
MEMPHIS The 2002-2003 cotton leadership class has been selected by the National Cotton Councils Cotton Leadership Development Committee.
Members of the class, which is the 20th since the programs inception are:
manufacturer Vern Tyson Jr., National Textiles LLC, Winston-Salem, NC;
producers Todd Isbell, Muscle Shoals, AL; George LaCour Jr., Morganza, LA; Brian Vanderlick, Alexandria, LA; and Jack Seiler, Blythe, CA;
ginner Russ Kuhnhenn, Acme Gin Company, Buckeye, AZ;
warehouseman Dan Sullivan, Anderson Clayton/Queensland Cotton, Fresno, CA;
merchant Edward Clarke, Joseph Walker & Company, Columbia, SC;
crusher Tim Detamore, Producers Cooperative Oil Mill, Oklahoma City, OK; and
cooperative Scott Stockton, Plains Cotton Cooperative Association, Lubbock, TX.
During six weeks of activity across the Cotton Belt, class members will visit with industry leaders and observe production, processing and research. They also will meet with lawmakers and government agency representatives during a visit to Washington.
Among activities in their first session, Sept. 9-13 in the Mid-South, will be an orientation to the NCC and key industry issues, attendance at the NCCs fall Board of Directors meeting, communications training and visits to farm and gin operations.
The Leadership Program, which seeks to identify potential industry leaders and provide them developmental training, has been supported since its 1983 inception by grants from DuPont Ag Products to The Cotton Foundation.
ASHEVILLE, NC An Executive Retreat sponsored by the American Textile Machinery Association (ATMA) is scheduled for Sept. 29-Oct. 1 at the Grove Park Inn here.
The meeting will take place in conjunction with the American Paper Machinery Association and the Process Equipment Manufacturers Association.
Keith Eades, president of Sales Performance International, will be the keynote speaker.
For information or to register, call (703) 538-1789 or send e-mail to email@example.com.
CHAPEL HILL, NC The textile industry has been hard hit in recent years, of course, but for manufacturers such as American Fiber & Yarns Company (AF&Y), the outlook is brightening, say company executives.
Although the industry has faced difficult times including a 13-year low in sales in 2001 as a result of the nationwide recession, weak consumer confidence and increasing imports American manufacturers are adjusting and working to get back on track. As a result, companies such as AF&Y say they are eagerly anticipating what the future may hold.
Last year was tough on almost everyone in the textile industry, said Mike Apperson, president and CEO of AF&Y. For some companies, 2002 hasnt been much better. But we are very fortunate to have recovered successfully from those hard times. Not only has American Fibers and Yarns met all of our financiers targets for the company, but we are also ahead of all of the goals we set for ourselves.
Apperson attributes AF&Ys improving outlook to:
debt reorganization in the first quarter;
an additional financial investment by majority owner Monitor Clipper Partners; and
an expanding customer base.
In addition to achieving its revenue and manufacturing goals to date this year, AF&Y completed its debt reorganization and refinancing in February under proactive terms, with positive results, Apperson said.
Monitor Clipper Partners also made an additional significant financial investment to the fiber manufacturer earlier this year. The private equity investment firm currently manages more than $725 million of capital.
The textile industry has been attempting to adapt to the ever-growing import market, Apperson said. We at AF&Y believe we have an edge in our service, flexibility, yarn fiber technology development and enhanced color services over foreign markets. Our mission is to continuously improve in all areas where we can support and enhance our customers success.
American Fibers & Yarns Company supplies synthetic filament yarn to the home furnishings, contract, hospitality, apparel, automotive and industrial markets. AF&Y began as Phillips Fibers Corporation, a subsidiary of Phillips Petroleum Company.
In 1993, Amoco Fabrics and Fibers Corporation, a subsidiary of Amoco Oil Corporation, purchased Phillips Fibers Corporation. The combined companies became the largest U.S. supplier of polypropylene filament yarns, staple fiber, needlepunch nonwovens and carpet backing.
In 1999, Amoco Fabrics and Fibers Corporation sold the fibers division to a private equity firm Monitor Clipper Partners of Cambridge, MA. The company is now based here.
WINSTON-SALEM, NC Hanes Companies, Inc., a subsidiary of Leggett & Platt, has acquired RAE Tradings export drapery lining and blackout fabric business.
Joe Romano, president of RAE Trading, and Mark Linville, vice president and CFO of Hanes Companies, made the announcement August 9.
With sales to 52 countries RAE Trading has served the export linings business for many years and will continue to serve the domestic linings market.
Hanes, based here, produces foam-backed and blackout fabrics at its Mount Hope finishing plant in Butner, NC. It also serves the domestic and international industries with a wide range of drapery lining fabrics out of its Hanes Industries division in Conover, NC.
Romano said that he believes the Hanes organization is committed to international sales growth and has the financial resources and personnel to make it happen.
In a separate agreement, industry veteran Bill Negin has agreed to work with Hanes in an export sales management role and will continue to be the primary contact for former RAE customers.
We recognize international sales of blackout for both commercial and residential applications is a growth business for us, said Rod Poole, vice president of Hanes. Getting the RAE business and a veteran like Bill Negin helps us get there faster and understand new opportunities better. Through the years, Hanes has built its reputation in the domestic market on quality and service. That will also be our focus as we grow export sales.
Hanes Companies operates 28 facilities, including three dyeing and finishing plants in North and South Carolina, as well as converting and distributing facilities for woven and nonwoven textiles in North America, Latin America and Europe.
Hanes products can be found in apparel, furniture, bedding, home furnishings, automotive, packaging, filtration and other specialty industrial textile applications.
FORT MILL, SC Two consumer advertising campaigns have been launched by Springs Industries for its venerable flagship brands Wamsutta and Springmaid.
The ads will appear nationwide in 28 magazines through December. Media spending exceeds $3 million.
The Wamsutta series focuses on the brands luxurious bed and bath products and helps consumers envision themselves indulging in these coordinated home fashions.
The Springmaid ads emphasize the brands commitment to high quality and stylish design at affordable prices, according to the company. These ads are part of a major Springmaid brand-building campaign that includes a Springmaid Dream Machine traveling exhibit, a fully furnished, interactive, personal decorating resource currently visiting about 85 Wal-Mart stores in eight states this summer and fall.
These campaigns will bring new strength of two of Americas best-known home fashion brands, said Leslie Gillock, vice president of brand management for Springs. They underscore our long-term commitment to the market, to imaginative styling and to comfort and elegance for the American consumer.
The ads are appearing in national shelter, womens service and lifestyle publications.
GONZALES, LA Crown Crafts, Inc. recorded a first-quarter loss of $693,000 after losing $2.9 million in the same period a year ago.
Per share, the loss was 7 cents, from 32 cents last year.
Sales were $17.9 million, compared to $38.7 million for the same quarter of last year.
Sales decreased due to the sale of the adult bedding and bath business on July 23, the company said.
We continue to be concerned with the economic slowdown in the United States overall, and shifts in buying patterns by some of our major retailers have adversely affected our industry, said E. Randall Chestnut, chairman, president and CEO. Some of those shifts in buying patterns occurred because the major trade show of our industry was rescheduled from October 2001 to May 2002 due to travel restrictions last fall. This substantially delayed purchase orders from our customers until later in the year.
KANNAPOLIS, NC Pillowtex Corporation, which recently emerged from bankruptcy, incurred a loss of $17.8 million in 2002, compared to a $38.3 million loss in the second quarter of 2001.
Those most recent figures excludes bankruptcy restructuring items such as impairment of long-lived assets, restructuring charges, reorganization items and loss from discontinued operations.
Pillowtex emerged from bankruptcy on May 24 but, for accounting purposes, the company recognized the emergence on June 1, the end of the May accounting period. Concurrent with its emergence, Pillowtex adopted the principles of fresh-start accounting, which for financial purposes creates a new entity and adjusts all historical assets and liabilities to their respective fair values.
As a consequence, comparisons of financial results for periods ending after June 1 to financial results for the periods ending prior to that date are difficult and of limited value, the company said.
For the three months ended June 29, the company reported net sales of $210.4 million.
WASHINGTON Burlington Industries, operating under bankruptcy court shelter, lost $11 million, or 21 cents a share, in the third quarter, according to a quarterly report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company reported sales of $267.7 million, down from $351 million for the same period a year ago.
Burlington made $1.4 million, or 3 cents a share, for the comparable quarter of 2001.
DULUTH, GA Delta Apparel, Inc. reported net earnings of $3.9 million, or $1.84 diluted, on sales of $43.4 million in the fourth quarter.
For the year, the company made $800,000 on record sales of $131.6 million.
We are excited by the record sales for the 2002 fiscal year, especially considering the challenging retail conditions during the year, said Robert W. Humphreys, president and CEO. Our unit volume increased by 16.8 percent from the prior year, although a shift in our sales mix and some price deterioration drove our average selling prices lower than in the previous year.
Humphreys added that we are pleased with the progress of the start up of our new textile facility located in Fayette, AL, and are on track to attain the expected 25 percent increase in Company output.
The company plans to add an additional distribution center in the Southeast in the coming year, he said.
VALDESE, NC Burke Mills, Inc. lost $217,000 in the quarter on sales of $8.2 million, after losing $220,000 on sales of $10.4 million for the comparable period last year.
Burke Mills is a processor of dyed, twisted, and textured yarns for the automotive, home and contract upholstery markets.
WINSTON-SALEM, NC Frisby Technologies, Inc. reported a net loss of $667,000, or 7 cents, a decline of 30 percent.
Sales increased 35 percent to $2 million from $1.5 million.
For the same period last year, the maker of climate control materials recorded a loss of $958,000, or 13 cents.
WEST POINT, GA West Point Foundry and Machine Company announced the signing of Ford, Trimble & Associates, Inc. (FTA) as its domestic sales representative.
FTAs focus will be on the sale of West Points capital equipment.
FTA is a sales and marketing firm, serving the U.S. textile industry since 1939.
FTA will be a resource for West Points customers in all areas of warp preparation by assisting in the planning, design and implementation of its equipment and systems.
GREAT FALLS, VA Ventex, Inc., a provider of performance textile solutions, announced that it has reached agreement with Sateri Oy, the Finnish manufacturer of VISIL® fiber, to act as Sateris exclusive sales agent for the VISIL® fiber in North America.
In making the announcement, Eero Mannisto, managing director for Sateri, said that he looks forward to a continuation of Ventex exercising its growing leadership position in the development of mattress fire barrier fabrics.
Mannisto explained that by doing this, we can expect to see Ventex strengthen the base for assisting other manufacturers with incorporating the unique properties of the VISIL fiber.
ROSEVILLE, MN The Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) recently announced a partnership with Digital IMS, a Web site development company.
Digital IMS, based in Lincoln, NE, is the creator of TechFabricPresence, a Web site product designed specifically for the specialty fabrics industry.
IFAI members can take advantage of substantial discounts on TechFabricPresences tools, including design of a customized Web site that can be easily modified from any computer with Internet access. IFAI members also receive discounts on monthly site hosting services.
GREENSBORO, NC Avery Dennison Retail Information Services and Honduras-based Thread & Trim Suppliers (TTS) jointly announced an agreement that makes TTS the sales, marketing and distribution agent for Avery Dennison Retail Information Services products in Honduras and El Salvador.
Located in the ZIP VICTORIA Free Trade Zone in San Pedro Sulo, the offices and warehouse facilities of TTS are strategically located to provide next-day delivery of Avery Dennison Retail Information Services products to garment manufacturers in Honduras and two-day deliveries to El Salvador.
RALEIGH, NC The Sewn Products Equipment & Suppliers of the Americas (SPESA) announced the unanimous decision by its board of directors to organize and produce a new triennial exhibition and conference focused on machinery, technology and services.
The event is scheduled for May 18-20, 2004, at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
CEMATEX, JTMA combine forces
The European and the Japanese textile machinery manufacturers have decided, in the interest of their customers, to combine forces for the organization of ITMA Asia.
In this respect a protocol has been assigned between CEMATEX and JTMA recently in Paris, according to which JTMA becomes an official partner of ITMA Asia, starting from the next ITMA Asia in 2005.
LOWELL, MA The U.S. Department of Defense has chosen the City of Lowell and the American Textile History Museum for the first museum exhibition of Pentagon Quilts.
The quilts, given spontaneously as gifts to the Pentagon in the aftermath of September 11, will be on display in the museum September 2-13 as part of a series of events commemorating the first anniversary of September 11 terrorist attacks.
A LOT HAS been made of the future of the U.S. textile industry in recent years, and with good reason. A four-year economic slide, coupled with jaw-dropping numbers of job losses, plant closings, bankruptcies and consolidations, et al, has left the industry bruised, battered and bloodied but still ticking. Those who are left seem to be working leaner, meaner, smarter and harder.
Given the most recent past, its easy to see why many industry leaders and operatives may be a little leery of what the future may hold. To many, a feeling of paranoia may have set in. And it certainly is difficult to focus on the future when youre forced to keep looking over your shoulder.
But you have to be impressed with the optimism the North Carolina Center for Applied Textile Technology (NCCATT) is showing over this industrys longevity. We certainly are. Scattered all over this weeks pages are examples of how the 59-year-old school is a true believer in the long-term health and durability of the manufacturing sector that butters its bread. And, goodness knows, what we need now more than ever is true believers.
Nothing proves that conviction more than the fact that the Textile Center is about to fling open the doors on a spanking new lab/administrative building, its first major expansion since 1974. Thats $3.2 million and 26,000 square feet of optimism just waiting to dribble droplets of hope all over this beleaguered industry. We call that confidence, especially given the state of turmoil in which its biggest customer finds itself.
We like that damn-the-torpedoes, full-speed-ahead attitude.
THAT SPIRIT has also been adopted by many longtime customers and users of the textile school. Many of them have expressed how the center is taking on even greater importance to their plans for arriving safely into the future (P. 16). None are singing the doom-and-gloom blues that are so prevalent among many factions in this industry. Probably because they realize just how important it is that their work forces be highly educated and trained in order to compete on a global scale.
Of course, the NCCATT isnt just sitting back and waiting ... hoping ... for something good to light a fire under this industry. Its actually helping to spark one, with its new facility and expanded curriculum. The school is actively no, aggressively helping to pick up this industry by its bootstraps and lead it to the next horizon.
In recent years, the center has not only adapted to a changing industry, but has been on the bleeding edge, in some cases. For instance, Dr. James Lemons, NCCATT president, went out and lobbied, through U.S. House Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), for U.S. Customs agents to undergo training at the center in order to help better combat trade illegalities, such as transshipment, that have plagued the industry for years. Eleven agents trained at the school in July, with another group due in in October. The center also developed an after-school program last year that helps middle school students, many of them children of textile industry members, be better equipped to handle the educational challenges of school.
GIVEN THIS institutions unbridled, unconditional hopefulness, we could think of no other industry enterprise more deserving to feature in this years Textile South edition. We appreciate the staffs and facultys exceptional efforts in enabling us to put this issue together, not to mention the enthusiasm and excitement they showed over being selected.
Dr. Lemons preaches the gospel of the good things happening in this industry as loud as anyone. He and his staff are real pros and real champions.
As the Textile Center embarks on its expansion, we encourage all textile companies and suppliers not just those located in the vicinity of Belmont, NC to call the school to discuss opportunities for improving the education and training levels of your employees.
Your future may depend on it.