In with the new

Week of August 20, 2001

Building projects indicate industry confidence


Participating in groundbreaking ceremony at the North Carolina Center for Applied Textile Technology are members of the board of trustees and board of directors, including (L-R) Charles Holland, Pharr Yarns, Inc.; Bobbie Tremain, Catawba-Charlab; Martha Webb, Richmond County Schools; Bill Jenkins, Gaston County Schools; John Harney, board of trustees president; Max Huntley, Parkdale Mills, Inc.; Bill Gray, Muratec/Murata of America, Inc.; Kathy Russell, self-employed; Sue Rich, Glen Raven; Danny Reece, National Textiles; Jeff Finch, Harriett & Henderson Yarns; and Susan Lewis, Beam Construction Company, Inc.

Textiles school breaks ground

BELMONT, NC — The North Carolina Center for Applied Textile Technology (NCCATT) on July 26 broke ground for its $3.6 million lab equipment/administration building, which will add about 30 percent more capacity to its existing facilities.

The school’s board of trustees, board of directors and other officials participated in the earth-turning ceremony.

The 27,000-square-foot facility will house three equipment demonstration labs, two computer labs geared toward training, administrative offices and an auditorium. The building is expected to be completed within a year.

“What I’m excited about is we have so many textile equipment manufacturers who are interested in placing equipment in this facility,” said Dr. James Lemons, school president. “Several companies would like to conduct their training here. They have made the initial contact with us — we haven’t had to beat on anybody’s door.”

Some machinery manufacturers also have expressed interest in bringing customers to NCCATT, where their equipment will be on display and operational, Lemons added.

“The new building may offer opportunities for new types of textile business partnerships with equipment manufacturers,” he said.

Nylstar opens yarn facility

GREENSBORO, NC — Nylstar, a European leader in the production of 6 and 6.6 polyamide fiber and the second largest nylon producer in the world, has opened a new state-of-the-art, $50 million production facility in Martinsville, VA.

When fully operational later this summer, the facility will be able to produce up to 50 million pounds per year of 15 to 200 denier nylon yarn, including many of the company’s Meryl® brand of specialty fully-oriented (FOY) and partially-oriented yarns (POY).

“From having the most modern BarMag machines available, to training employees overseas, to being CBI and NAFTA compliant, we set out for this plant to do one thing, and that is to demonstrate to fabric and apparel manufacturers in the United States, Canada and Mexico that we are committed to nylon in North America. In other words, we’re committed to their business like no other yarn producer in the world,” said Dina Dunn, vice president of marketing for Nylstar’s North American operations.

Much of Nylstar’s success in Europe lies in the company’s commitment to offering its customers innovative, high-quality nylon products, fashion-forward thinking and a unique desire to work with customers in creating new trends and improving existing ones, Dunn said. Nylstar’s North American operations will focus primarily on the body wear, activewear and fashion markets.

“In today’s globally competitive market, just selling yarn isn’t enough. By working with our customers to be continually innovative and forward thinking, we help their business grow, which subsequently builds ours as well,” Dunn said. “It is this thinking and relationship-building we’ll be enhancing and growing as we move forward in North America at a time when many manufacturers are reducing or shuttering operations.”

Many may look at Nylstar and ask why the company is confident it will succeed and making such a significant investment at a time when retailers and manufacturers are looking to reduce their inventories.

“Looking at the state of our industry today, some may wonder about the chances of success for a manufacturing facility in the US,” Dunn said. “But we attribute as much of the recent retail downturns to a lack of excitement in product offerings as we do the economy. The economy will rebound. When it does, we’ll be helping our customers be ready with the trend-setting products consumers will buy.”

In the news ...

Week of August 20, 2001

Fabric technology moving ahead

By Bea Quirk

Imagine wearing a T-shirt featuring Mickey Mouse on a pair of roller skates — and actually “skating” on your shirt as you walk. Or watching a professional cyclist go by with the name of his company sponsor flashing at you from his leg as he pedals. Or drapes that change patterns as the sun hits them in different angles during the day.

And when the item gets dirty, you just throw it in the washing machine, then tumble dry and even iron it.

That day may not be as far off in the future as you might think. Dr. Munzer Makansi of Signal Mountain, TN, has already developed and patented a way to create such fabrics, and he is only a few steps away from developing a commercially viable manufacturing process.

Makansi calls his invention “holographic fabric technology,” featuring direct embossing of rainbow and hologram images on fabrics with heat and pressure.

Using existing holographic film embossing equipment, the fabrics are produced with a thermal embossing process at elevated pressures.

The fabric is unique in that, upon exposure to light, the fabric diffracts (projects) colored images that are bright and also shimmer, just as conventional hologram images do. Yet the color brightness intensity is subdued and pleasing on fabric, as compared to the harsh brightness of hologram images on film, according to Makansi.

“This technology provides a third method for coloring fabrics, beyond dyeing and printing,” Makansi explained, “without using dyes, pigments, adhesives, film or laminates. It’s an environmentally friendly process.”

The colors and images produced are dynamic — they move! — and are three-dimensional. The fabric retains its inherent properties of air and moisture permeability, flexibility, quiet folding and the appearance of the original construction patterns, woven or knit, he said. The colors and images resist aging, handling, stretching, wringing, machine washing, tumble drying, dry cleaning and dyeing, he added.

“This process is changing the scope of how people look at fabric, and changes the dynamics of apparel,” said Tally Sessions of Pathway Marketing & Consulting, who is aiding Makansi as he seeks investors. “And you can also dye, print or emboss holographic fabric, for even more interesting results.”

Makansi said he believes the potential market for his holographic fabric technology is large. Among potential end-uses are sportswear; skiwear; swimwear; clothing, ties, scarves and stage costumes; upholstery and drapery; shower curtains; patio and beach furniture; luggage, hats and umbrellas; and decorative fabrics. The use of existing licenses in sports, films, cartoons and corporate logos can also be greatly enhanced. The only limits are designers’ imaginations, Sessions said.

Getting out of this mess possible, analyst stresses

By Devin Steele

MYRTLE BEACH, SC — Kay Norwood, senior vice president and assistant director of research for Wachovia Securities, Charlotte, NC, explained to members of the Textured Yarn Association of America (TYAA) how the industry got into the shape it’s in (Part 1, Aug. 13 STN).

And she also indicated that there are ways out of this mess for innovative, creative-thinking companies. Already, the economy seems to be beginning to turn, which could improve conditions for a depressed domestic industry.

“Things are starting to improve for consumers, with the tax cut and the fact that gas prices are down,” Norwood said during TYAA’s recent Summer Conference here. “We’ve seen confidence perk up a little bit. The stock market will come along at some point and all of this will have something positive to say about the demand for apparel and home fashions.”

On a positive note, these trying times have forced textile companies to create new ways to stay competitive, she said.

“I don’t ever expect pricing issues to go away, but mills are really finding new ways to cut costs,” she said. “The industry has to learn to operate with a lower level of inventory all the time. The issue is not ‘can the industry bring down the inventory?’ We’ve seen a lot of companies do that by closing mills for weeks at a time. The question is, ‘can you keep them low?’ ”

Norwood also gave U.S. retail suppliers the edge against foreign companies on the matter of deliveries. She said that a couple of apparel companies are able to turn around orders in 28 days — from the day they receive fabrics to the day garments are shipped.

“The rest of the textile industry has to learn to operate that way,” she said. “If a garment company can do that sourcing garments, then the textile industry can learn to do it — and it absolutely has to. There’s no way that an Asian manufacturer can do that and it’s the one edge the domestic industry has.”

Mayfair files bankruptcy, closes last three plants

ARCADIA, SC — The textile industry suffered another casualty last week when 67-year-old Mayfair Mills said it has filed for bankruptcy and will close its remaining three plants.

About 800 people will be affected by the closings, which will occur at facilities here and in Easley and Pickens, SC. Many of the employees were already on furlough as the company awaited word on financing from Wachovia Bank.

But the additional financing did not come through and closing was its only option, Mayfair President Frederick B. “Rick” Dent Jr. said in the letter to employees.

The company blamed its problems on the influx of cheap imports from Asia, the severe reduction of exchange rates, global over-production and reduced demand for textiles and apparel.

“The industry has been hoping for a turn in the market, but none has developed,” Dent said in a statement. “There has been no final determination about the long term as yet.”

Mayfair made printcloths, broadcloths, poplins and medium-weight fabric for industrial, apparel and home-furnishings markets.

Mayfair announced in March that it would close plants in Starr, SC, Arcadia, SC, and Lincolnton, GA, eliminating 425 jobs, after failing to obtain further credit.

Last month, as a cost-saving measure, the company terminated the 401(k) plans of its remaining employees. Funds in the plan, which have been frozen, will be dispersed to employees after approval by the IRS, Dent said.

“We regret these job losses and the burden that they put on our associates, their families and communities very much,” Dent said in the statement.

Guilford to reduce head count by 275

GREENSBORO, NC — Guilford Mills, Inc. said Wednesday it lost $20.4 million, or $1.06 per share, in the third quarter and will reduce its head count by 275 people.

The company will cease production of apparel and home fashions fabrics in its Pine Grove, PA, operation. Affected employees will come from both the manufacturing and selling and administrative areas, Guilford said.

The facility will be downsized but retained as an industrial fabrics operation, the company said, adding that it is dedicating appropriate resources to the marketing and continuing development of these technical products.

Cone Mills to sell unit

GREENSBORO, NC — Denim fabric producer Cone Mills Corporation has agreed to sell certain assets of its John Wolf converted fabrics unit to Richloom Fabrics, Inc., and will then exit the decorative fabrics converting business, the company announced August 10.

This action will eventually result in the elimination of about 25 jobs and the closing of the Decorative Fabrics offices in New York City. Cone Mills purchased John Wolf in 1960.

Cone Mills will continue to compete in the woven home fabrics business with products manufactured in its state-of-the-art jacquards mill in Cliffside, NC, which has doubled its sales in the last four years, CEO John Bakane said.

This transaction will provide cash proceeds of about $9 million and eliminate operating losses that would otherwise have reached $3 to $4 million this year, according to Cone officials.

Carolina Mills to eliminate 420 more jobs

MAIDEN, NC — Private textile manufacturer Carolina Mills last week announced layoffs for the third time in less than a year.

The company on Wednesday said it is closing plants in Ranlo, NC, of Gaston County and St. Pauls, NC, in Robeson County, leaving about 420 people out of work. The facilities, which both produce yarn, are expected to be closed within 60 days.

“This decision was unfortunately driven by economic and business circumstances stemming from the unanticipated loss of domestic business from customers and the continuing surge of low-price imports, which are at an all-time high, and the necessity to consolidate the company’s operations,” Ed Schrum, Carolina Mills chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

Carolina Mills closed a plant in Lincolnton, NC, in June, affecting about 120 people. Last November, the company closed a yarn-spinning plant in St. Pauls, putting 240 people in the unemployment line.

ATMI: Thumbs down on early phase-out

The American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) will strongly oppose any effort to phase out textile import quotas before 2005, Carlos Moore, ATMI’s executive vice president, told Reuters.

Developing countries such as India and Pakistan have indicated that they would support new world trade talks if textile quotas are phased out earlier than agreed upon during the 1994 Uruguay Round world trade agreement.

“There’s absolutely no justification for the United States to accelerate any of the benefits under the WTO (World Trade Organization),” Moore said.

Some developing countries have complained that they have yet to benefit much from the Uruguay Round and that more time is needed to implement some of its measures.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick recently visited New Delhi to gather support for new WTO talks.

JPS Apparel Fabrics on market

BALTIMORE, MD — JPS Apparel Fabrics Corporation announced it has sought court approval to retain Equity Partners, Inc. to seek an equity investor or entirety buyer of this supplier of greige fabric from spun and filament yarn for the women’s sportswear and dresswear market.

The company has been operating under bankruptcy protection since June 22 and is in the process of shutting down one of three plants.

JPS said it has focused on higher margin niche markets in rayon, acetate and Tencel fabrics and has long-standing relationships with leading women’s apparel converters. Recently, the company began efforts to close its operations in South Boston, VA, downsizing from more than $100 million in annual revenue, to a about $60 million.

“The recent Chapter 11 filing allows us to continue to serve our core customers and to preserve JPS as a going concern while seeking a joint venture partner or buyer for the remaining questions,” said Reid McCarter, JPS President.

ATMA retreat called off

FALLS CHURCH, VA — Due to low registration, the American Textile Machinery Association’s Planning Retreat that was scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday has been canceled, the group said last week.

The ATMA board of directors’ meeting, however, has been expanded so that the board may address matters that would have been discussed by committees.

Sulzer names Antonietti president

WINTERTHUR, SWITZERLAND — Weaving machine manufacturer Sulzer Textil, which recently became part of the Radici/Itema Group, has appointed Paolo Antonietti as president.

At the beginning of next month, he will succeed Ulrich Bolleter, who temporarily took over Sulzer Textil after Philip Mosimann’s departure at the end of June.

Antonietti, 49, graduated as a mechanical engineer specialized in textile machinery from the ETH Zurich and earned an MBA at the IMD, Lausanne. His widely based international management experience was acquired in various companies, including Nestlé, Motul and Rieter.Bolleter will assist in the transition before returning as head of the company’s technology division. He will remain a member of the executive management as deputy to Antonietti.
Sulzer Textil was bought last month by Promatech S.p.A., part of the Radici/Itema Group.
The company, which recorded sales of about $400 million last year, employs about 1,850 people worldwide, including 133 apprentices.

Nylstar opens $50 million plant

GREENSBORO, NC — Nylstar, a European leader in the production of 6 and 6.6 polyamide fiber and the second largest nylon producer in the world, has opened a new state-of-the-art, $50 million production facility in Martinsville, VA.

When fully operational later this summer, the facility will be able to produce up to 50 million pounds per year of 15 to 200 denier nylon yarn, including many of the company’s Meryl® brand of specialty fully-oriented (FOY) and partially-oriented yarns (POY).

“From having the most modern BarMag machines available, to training employees overseas, to being CBI and NAFTA compliant, we set out for this plant to do one thing, and that is to demonstrate to fabric and apparel manufacturers in the United States, Canada and Mexico that we are committed to nylon in North America. In other words, we’re committed to their business like no other yarn producer in the world,” said Dina Dunn, vice president of marketing for Nylstar’s North American operations.

Much of Nylstar’s success in Europe lies in the company’s commitment to offering its customers innovative, high-quality nylon products, fashion-forward thinking and a unique desire to work with customers in creating new trends and improving existing ones, Dunn said. Nylstar’s North American operations will focus primarily on the body wear, activewear and fashion markets.

“In today’s globally competitive market, just selling yarn isn’t enough. By working with our customers to be continually innovative and forward thinking, we help their business grow, which subsequently builds ours as well,” Dunn said. “It is this thinking and relationship-building we’ll be enhancing and growing as we move forward in North America at a time when many manufacturers are reducing or shuttering operations.”

URI project recognized

KINGSTON, RI — The American Association for State and Local History has honored the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design with an Award of Merit for its lead role in the Rhode Island Quilt Documentation Project.

The 10-year project was organized by URI Professor Linda Welters of Peace Dale, chair of the Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design; and her colleague, Margaret Ordoñez of Cumberland, URI associate professor of textiles. Alda Kaye, retired curator of the department’s historic costume collection, was also on the team.

Sirrine Foundation presents TCTC grant for textile use

PENDLETON, SC — The J.E. Sirrine Foundation has given Tri-County Technical College a $70,187 grant to fund 10 Textile Management Technology scholarships and to develop the college’s first Web-based textile class.

Specifically, $54,587 is earmarked for the 10 two-year scholarships, and the remaining $15,600 will be used to develop Introduction to Textiles, an Internet course that will accommodate students who work non-traditional shifts and want to attend college but cannot because of distance and time constraints.

“We are happy with the continued support the J.E. Sirrine Textile Foundation bestows on our Textile Management Technology program,” said Department Head Jim Wilson. “Textiles remains the largest employer in our area and the need for qualified management personnel continues. These funds enable us to offer scholarships that pay for the student’s entire tuition, plus up to $300 in book costs.

“These 10 new scholarships will be available to students who are either employed in the textile industry or who want to enter the textile industry on a first-line supervisor level.”

Currently, there are more than 60 students enrolled in the Textile Management Technology program at Tri-County. The degree enables students to further enhance their capability of getting a first-line supervisory job. The majority of students enrolled already are employed in a production capacity with area textile firms.

Since the program’s inception in 1973, companies have donated 966 textile scholarships, valued at $1.5 million.

Milliken Chemical gets accolade

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV — The American Chemistry Council has awarded Milliken Chemical, a Division of Milliken & Company, the 2000 Responsible Care® Employee Health and Safety Code Sustained Excellence Award.

Milliken Chemical took the honors in the small size category. The award is the chemical industry’s highest safety and health award and is presented to only those companies that exhibit outstanding and long-term progress in protecting the health and safety of their employees, contractors and the community residents living near their facilities.

Lees Carpet collects awards

GREENSBORO, NC — Lees Carpets, a division of Burlington Industries, won several awards at NeoCon World’s Trade Fair 2001, the premier exhibition for the commercial furnishings industry held annually at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.

Metafloor™ by Lees earned top honors at the show: “Gold Best of NeoCon” and “Most Innovative” awards in the Broadloom category. In addition, Metafloor by Lees was chosen out of 255 products entered in 26 distinct interior furnishings categories as “Best of Competition.” This is the first time in the competition’s history that a floorcovering product has been recognized with the overall Best of Competition award.

The Best of NeoCon competition is sponsored by Facilities Design & Management magazine, Contract magazine, The International Interior Design Association (IIDA) and Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc.

A new category of flooring, Metafloor is a hybrid product that offers the attributes of hard surfaces — including durability to withstand the rigors of heavily-wheeled traffic — and the functionality of carpeting, including slip resistance and superb acoustic properties.

Kayser-Roth grabs honor

GREENSBORO, NC — Hosiery manufacturer Kayser-Roth Corporation captured the distinguished 2001 SPARC (Supplier Performance Awards by Retail Category) Award.

This honor is awarded based on a poll of key merchandising executives in the $500 billion Mass Market retailing industry and conducted by DSN Retailing Today.

Kayser-Roth was rewarded for its service, innovation and overall programs that best serve the discount industry.

Buyers and merchandise managers from the industry’s top 100 retailers voted on a specific set of performance criteria that have been identified as important by merchandising executives. The voting took place in 16 merchandise categories.

Editorial

Week of August 20, 2001

Textile Alliance speaks in one voice

Editor’s note: The following letter was signed by most organizations that make up the American Textile Alliance and is being sent to various newspapers in the South. The letter relates to the Trade and Development Act of 2000, which includes the U.S.- Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act and the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, specifically Sen. Jesse Helms’ (R-NC) recent protest of certain provisions in the legislation.

Signing the letter were the Alabama Textile Manufacturers Association, the American Cotton Shippers Association, the American Fiber Manufacturers Association, the American Sheep Industry Association, the American Textile Machinery Association, the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, GTMA-Association of Georgia’s Textile, Carpet and Consumer Products Manufacturers, the Knitted Textile Association, the North Carolina Manufacturers Association, the Northern Textile Association, the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance, the Textile Distributors Association, Inc. and the Union of Needletrades, Industrial, & Textile Employees (UNITE).

We represent various sectors of the U.S. textile industry, which collectively employs 470,000 workers here.

We strongly support the efforts of Senator Jesse Helms and other textile state members of Congress who are working to preserve jobs in this important manufacturing sector. We are especially supportive of their efforts to ensure that the recently passed CBI-Africa bill be properly interpreted and implemented by the U.S. Customs Service.

The CBI-Africa bill provides nearly $2.5 billion in tariff relief to offshore apparel makers and importers of garments produced in either Sub-Saharan Africa or the nations of the Caribbean Basin. In an attempt to provide a win-win situation for workers in all the regions, the legislation requires CBI and sub-Saharan African clothing makers to use U.S. fabrics and yarn in order to gain duty-free entry into the U.S. This provision states that the fabric be “wholly formed” in the U.S., thus requiring all fabric-making processes to be performed in the United States. In addition to weaving and knitting, these processes include dyeing, printing and finishing operations, which often account for a significant portion of the fabric’s final value and make it suitable for conversion into clothing.

Importers and offshore producers have argued that the valuable dyeing, printing and finishing operations should be allowed to take place outside the U.S. Senator Helms has diligently worked to ensure that the dyeing, printing and finishing operations are to be performed only in U.S. factories by U.S workers. His efforts are designed to make certain that the original intent of the law is carried out.

Failure to properly interpret and enforce this provision of the law could cost 50,000 U.S. jobs in the domestic dyeing, printing and finishing sector. In light of the fact that the domestic textile industry has already lost more than 153,000 workers in the past five years, it is critical that the U.S. Customs Service regulations adhere to Congress’ intent and require U.S. dyeing, printing and finishing of the fabrics covered by this bill.

For all these reasons, we strongly support Senator Helms and others in Congress who have called upon the U.S. government to properly interpret this new law in order to preserve the critical dyeing, printing and finishing segment of the domestic industry.