AYSA Annual Meeting

Week of September 2, 2002

Yarn spinners: Just buying time?

By Devin Steele

The president of a small yarn-spinning company perhaps summed up the sentiments of many in that industry sector, and possibly others, regarding expectations for sustainability:

“We almost feel as though we are buying time, and there is not a great deal of hope in the long-term prospects of our business,” said the member of the American Yarn Spinners Association (AYSA), in answering a survey sent to AYSA members about business conditions and outlook.

The writer, who asked to remain anonymous, was responding to the question, “What are your thoughts on the major trade bill that recently was signed by the president?”

“As we have unfortunately seen in the past, the short-term gains are far outweighed by the long-term blows dealt to the U.S. textile industry,” he also wrote. “We chase consumers of yarn all over the hemisphere while our markets at home continue to shrink in front of our eyes.”

A blunt observation — and possibly one shared by his colleagues.

A handful of AYSA members, who hold their 35th annual meeting this week, responded to the questionnaire, so their thoughts may or may not be representative of the broader association. Nonetheless, their insights are worth repeating.

While several responders said business is better than it was a year ago at this time, several echoed the views of the aforementioned industry leader.

“Long term, the spinning industry will follow the apparel and textile industries by moving offshore,” said another anonymous writer, who rated current business conditions an 8 in level of business and a 1 in opportunity to be profitable. “Our problem will be that the industry will be foreign owned rather than domestically owned.”

Another noted: “Conditions are slightly better, but the outlook is every bit as gloomy as it appeared a year ago.”

Buhler Quality Yarn Corp., a Jefferson, GA-based U.S. subsidiary of Hermann Bühler AG of Switzerland, has seen an upturn over the last 12 months, according to Werner Bieri, president and CEO.

“Much improved,” he responded to the year-over-year comparison question. “Even so, we couldn’t raise prices as we have been expecting based on the second-quarter business. Factors have been, of course, increased orders by retailers.

“This,” he added, “seems to be slowing down with dwindling consumer confidence.”

Buhler, which manufactures fine-count, combed yarns made from extra-long staple cotton, has been operating around the clock since January, Bieri added. The company’s books are full for the third quarter and he said he is expecting the fourth quarter to be “reasonably well.”

Not all survey takers have seen a surge, however. At Trio Manufacturing Co., Forsyth, GA, revenues have slipped from between 5 and 10 percent from the same time last year, according to Howell Newton, president.

“In fact,” he said, “we have seen a fairly significant decline in the demand for our products that started in July 2000.”

Part of the problem can be attributed to the strong dollar, which is now weakening, he added. But the biggest reason is that finished products are being imported for retail sale, eliminating the need for sales yarn to be manufactured in the U.S., Newton said.

The revenue decline forced Trio to lay off about 15 percent of its hourly work force early this year, but the company is now running at full capacity, he reported.

A weakening economy has negatively affected The Kent Manufacturing Co., a Pickens, SC-based worsted yarn maker, according to CEO Mark B. Kent, a former AYSA president. And cheap prices for foreign yarn haven’t helped either, he said.

“Sadly, we have been forced to face both temporary and permanent layoffs,” said Kent, who would not rate business conditions higher than a 5 because he said he isn’t convinced the economy is as strong as some contend. “It is not a very pleasant thing to have to do.”

Kent Manufacturing will likely run at less than full capacity for the rest of the year, he said.

Trade thoughts

AYSA members also were asked for their thoughts on the recently approved Trade Act of 2000 — a bundled bill that included trade promotion authority, an expansion of Andean trade preferences and changes that will increase imports from Caribbean and African countries, among other provisions.

Several said they aren’t convinced that the legislation will best serve their interests.

“The recent passage of trade promotion authority and Andean trade bills is very discouraging to an already bloodied industry,” said an unnamed company official.

Trio’s Newton said that the representatives of the domestic textile industry made a “gallant effort” to secure terms and language that would be the least harmful to the industry. Unfortunately, he added, most of this language was removed in conference committee.

“The main issue is whether President Bush will attempt to negotiate fair trade agreements rather than simply free trade agreements,” he said.

Kent Manufacturing will pick up little gains from the legislation, Kent added.

“The wool sector stands to lose more from the trade bill than benefits,” he said. “The yarn beneficiaries of the package should be the cotton spinners.”

Bieri, meanwhile, said the measure could boost sales yarn producers.

“It will, however, drive more of the textile chain out of the country, which would most likely have resulted anyway — but the winner would have been Asia,” he said.

As a footnote, Bieri added that better marketing efforts will be required by spinners and fabric makers doing business elsewhere, especially in Andean and sub-Saharan African countries.

“Central America has so far been the main focus,” he said. “We will be faced with short supply petitions from the other two regions if we do not start to focus on those regions.”

Another responder opposed the bill in its entirety.

“We think it is time for our country and Congress to worry about jobs in this country rather than other countries,” he wrote. “New and recent trade legislation without committed true enforcement of the rules by this and other countries simply amounts to another giveaway program.”

Most agreed that yarn production will survive in the U.S., at least among those companies that find a specialty niche, but that the industry will continue to scale back.

“I believe there will always be a yarn spinning sector of our industry in this country,” Newton said. “The companies that survive will have to be the lowest-cost producer or will have to be so specialized that the product would be difficult to source from foreign manufacturers. I also believe that the sales yarn segment of our industry is continuing to shrink and is certainly changing with each passing year.”

Added Bieri: “Basic commodities will be disappearing, as we will not be able to compete unless we can justify a high degree of automation cost effectively. Specialties will always have a spot as long as we have duty protection to a certain degree and trade agreements with regions such as Central America and Africa, with no or little textile industry compared to apparel capacity.”

Kent acknowledged that yarn manufacturing here must be “very creative and niche driven,” and that most growth will occur in Asia, especially China, an Latin America.

“The question concerning Latin America is where?” Kent asked. “If free trade from North and South America exists in the near future, bet on Brazil and Columbia for yarn production.”

Finally, one of the unnamed answerers called his company’s outlook “very negative.”

“There has been very little investment in the U.S. spinning industry in recent times, and for good reason,” he said. “Public markets, lending institutions, as well as private investors are staying away from the risk that faces our industry. We understand that demand for spinning and textile equipment in China is overwhelming. They are gearing up for somewhat of a takeover of world textile production.

“Unfortunately it appears that there is not much politically standing in their way.”

AYSA Annual Meeting

Week of September 2, 2002

Aldonas to address Yarn Spinners group

Grant D. Aldonas, under secretary for International Trade in the U.S. Department of Commerce, will address members of the American Yarn Spinners Association (AYSA) during their annual meeting next week.

The meeting takes place Sun., Sept. 9 through Wed., Sept. 11 at The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, WV.

Aldonas will cover U.S. trade policy, along with enactment and enforcement issues related to trade agreements.

Also on the docket is Dr. Blanton Godfrey, dean and Joseph D. Moore Distinguished University Professor of the College of Textiles at N.C. State University.

Ambassador Mario M. Canahuati of the Embassy of Honduras will also speak.

The AYSA has gathered at The Cloister in Sea Island, GA, for the past three years, but the group decided on this well-known resort for its 35th annual meeting.

“The board of directors of AYSA has frequently shared a belief in the concept of meeting on occasion at an alternative sight to The Cloister, which has and continues to be one of the jewels of the Southeast,” said AYSA President Charles L. Little Jr., president of the LaFrance Division of Mount Vernon Mills, LaFrance, SC. “I was delighted to support the consideration of The Greenbrier. Recently voted the No. 1 golf resort in the nation, The Greenbrier is outstanding by every measure.”

The theme of meeting is “Relax, Reminisce and Refresh.”

“The Greenbrier offers the perfect setting, the camaraderie among our membership is something to cherish and the program encompasses the emerging issues from which we will refresh and head off to meet tomorrow’s challenges,” Little added.

Little is expected to be succeeded as president by James Chesnutt, president and CEO of National Spinning Co., Washington, NC.

AYSA Annual Meeting

Week of September 2, 2002

Yarn Spinners eye consensus, opportunities

Editor’s note: Following is a Q&A with Mike Hubbard, executive vice president of the American Yarn Spinners Association (AYSA), and Charles L. Little Jr., AYSA president. Little, president of the LaFrance Division, Mount Vernon Mills, LaFrance, SC, and Hubbard answered questions submitted by STN Editor Devin Steele, in preparation for the group’s annual meeting at The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, WV, Sept. 8-11.

STN: What was the AYSA’s “official position” on the recent trade bill that grants the president trade negotiating authority and offers duty-free apparel breaks from certain Caribbean and South American countries? Also, now that it has passed, please discuss the bill and the ways AYSA sees it as benefiting or hurting the yarn-spinning sector. Related to the bill, AYSA, the National Cotton Council and the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) jointly expressed support for increases to existing duty-free quotas with Caribbean Basin and Andean nations that exempt the need for U.S fabrics. Some factions of the industry have been critical of this compromise and alliance between these three groups, as the compromise tends to hurt downstream producers, they say. Please address this issue.

Hubbard: AYSA formed its “official position” on the recent trade bill in conjunction with ATMI and the National Cotton Council. Staffs and principles from all three organizations met on a number of occasions to forge a compromise position acceptable to all involved. All three groups believe it is imperative for the industry to speak with a common voice.

As part of the compromise, the three groups agreed to levels for the regional fabric quotas. We recognized that regional fabric caps in the Caribbean and Africa would probably be raised, and we knew there would be an effort to set an extremely high level for the Andean countries.

However, spinners have a vested interest in the strength and well-being of U.S. knitters and weavers, so we wanted to see these quotas set at levels that would not threaten the U.S. industry while establishing new export opportunities for U.S. yarn and fabric to all three regions.

The legislation as passed by Congress did not fully reflect the compromise we had with ATMI and NCC, and it has taken a lot of criticism from some quarters of the domestic industry.

However, from a yarn producer’s perspective, it still offers pretty good export opportunities. The regional fabric quotas in the Caribbean REQUIRE the use of U.S. yarn. The outerwear T-shirt quota was identical to that agreed to by the three organizations, but the general knit fabric quota was higher. The current T-shirt quota has already filled this year, but even without an increase the knit fabric quota will be less than half filled.

The Andean quota allows the use of U.S. or Andean yarn, but even with the large quota there are opportunities for U.S. yarn producers. According to information we have seen, the Andean countries only produce about half of the yarn and fabric in the apparel they currently ship to the U.S. Even if production capacity expands in the region, U.S. textiles will still be needed to fill the gap.

Speaking of capacity expansion in the region, this is not a foregone conclusion, either. Given economic conditions, capital for such expansions may be difficult to obtain. The African fabric caps were doubled, but there is little opportunity for U.S. textile producers in the region. Through 2004, the poorer countries in Africa are allowed to use third-country (Pakistani, Chinese, etc.) yarns and fabrics and receive duty-free benefits. We do take some comfort from the fact that third-country components cannot be used in the increased portion of the regional fabric quota.

STN: Are AYSA members beginning to get more involved in the Caribbean Basin, as a result of the Trade and Development Act of 2000? How so?

Little: Absolutely. The CBI represents an outstanding opportunity and the growth of business development is tremendous. The recent trade legislation did address in a positive manner the quota on outerwear T-shirts, which was limiting the volume of U.S. yarn that could be processed. Look for the CBI region to continue to bring increasing opportunity for our industry.

Hubbard: AYSA members are definitely getting involved in the Caribbean Basin. U.S. yarn exports to the region nearly doubled last year when markets everywhere else, including in the U.S., were static or contracting because of the sluggish economy. Our knit fabric customers in the U.S. also took advantage of the bill, as exports of U.S. knit fabric to the region more than doubled last year. This might help explain why the regional knit fabric quota will only fill halfway in the current quota year.

According to export data from the U.S. International Trade Commission in millions of kilograms, yarn was at 19.9 in 1999, 33.4 in 2000 and 62 in 2001. Knit fabric was increased from 7.3 in 1999 to 12.5 in 2000 and 33 last year.

STN: How is AYSA helping companies realize their potential in the CBI and elsewhere?

Hubbard: We have been working on a number of fronts in this regard. First, alone and in conjunction with other organizations, we have been working to correct technical problems with the Caribbean legislation on such things as knit-to-shape and hybrid cutting. For technical clarification, we have also requested that Customs affirm that texturing of filament yarn must be done in the U.S. for the yarn to be considered “wholly formed.” We also have promoted trade shows and brought in experts to address our members on a variety of issues at our annual marketing seminar.

Little: Our marketing seminars the past two years, under the direction of Committee Chairman Bill Malloy of Cheraw Yarn Mill, have been invaluable in the scope and content of information offered. Our AYSA Web site helps direct potential customers to the member companies that provide the yarn types of interest.

STN: Are member companies as a group doing better than they were a year ago at this time. Why or why not?

Hubbard: As a whole member companies are seeing an improvement in the business climate this year. 2001 was probably the worst year the industry has experienced in decades. Mills are seeing an improvement in business, as is evidenced by the fact that many of them had to remain open during the week of July 4 so they could meet orders. Naturally, all members are hopeful that the economic recovery will continue.

Little: Imports continue to erode many markets in the form of yarn, fabric and finished products. The demands to succeed in the textile industry are formidable. AYSA is there to work for all members and is sensitive to the plight of those who are struggling.

STN: What other activities, internally and externally, has AYSA been involved with this year?

Little: As president, I have had the opportunity to see the inner-workings of the association and to realize the information base AYSA is to the industry and to our government. The statistical data generated for the participating members is highly accurate and informative as to inventories, production and shipping activity by yarn types and size range.

Congressional staff members have over the years gained confidence in utilizing the AYSA office as a resource for needed information for the research they conduct. Research efforts and contact developments with regard to the potential CBI and Andean business opportunities made by the AYSA office have been substantial. AYSA acted as host for the annual meeting of the Spinners Committee of the International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF) in Gastonia.

Hubbard: This indeed has been a busy year for the association. In addition to the meetings with ATMI and NCC, as mentioned earlier, we held our annual Safety Conference in March. Member companies’ focus on safety resulted in new records, making 2001 the safety work year in the history of the industry.

Our annual Marketing Seminar in May addressed a variety of topics including Caribbean trade and credit and insurance. In conjunction with our Marketing Seminar, as Charles mentioned, AYSA hosted the International Spinners Committee, providing our members the opportunity to meet with their counterparts from around the world. A panel of the ITMF Spinners Committee participated in the Marketing Seminar.

In our effort to learn more about the Andean textile industry, AYSA also met with a number of government and industry representatives from the various countries. For our cotton-spinning members, the association pushed for elimination of the 1.25 cent threshold in the Step 2 program.

STN: Are you aware of any forthcoming legislation with which the industry should be concerned?

Hubbard: The association is monitoring the progress of trade talks with Chile, Singapore and other countries. We continue to stress the importance of a yarn forward rule (i.e. no third-country yarns or fabrics) for qualifying textile, apparel and consumer goods. The industry is wary of the Doha Trade Round under the WTO, as textile tariffs will probably be addressed in some manner.

We also will work for positive outcomes in the implementing regulations and in any technical corrections bill that might arise to amend the recently passed trade bill.

STN: How have AYSA members benefited from their dues this year?

Little: All members, including our valued associate members, are enriched by the seminars and information sharing that is provided by the AYSA and the committees. The standing committees are the backbone of AYSA.

Our well-attended Marketing Seminar covered topics from export financing to current CBI activity. The attendees heard a sub-group of the International Spinners Committee comment on business conditions for spinning companies in countries all around the globe. All the committees actively monitor developments in the marketplace, as well as governmental policy.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s flammability standards is closely followed by the Home Furnishings Committee.

I would contend that the total dues from all members is little more than the expense a single company would have retaining a lobbyist to push their agenda on Capitol Hill. AYSA is a lean organization and gives its members great value for the associated cost of membership.

STN: What are some of the biggest challenges facing yarn spinners today?

Little: A major concern is the ability to generate the needed capital for the investment necessary by all members to maintain cutting-edge technology in their facilities. The fluctuating raw material costs commonly experienced by our industry can be favorable with decreasing fiber prices, but can be deadly with price increases. The retail environment has become accustomed to price movement in one direction only. With raw material pricing headed upward, the challenge to gain reasonable pricing for the product is critical to the longer term viability of our members.

STN: What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of the domestic yarn industry in this business environment?

Hubbard: The greatest strengths for the domestic yarn industry are the people who work in it and the efforts to keep the mills as modern and competitive as possible through careful investments in the last few years. The greatest weakness has been the economy in the last year and a half. We are hopeful that the economic recovery under way will pick up speed and be sustainable.

STN: Mike, please cover some of the highlights of your first year at the AYSA executive helm.

Hubbard: Work on trade issues consumed a surprising amount of time last year. In this global economy, trade legislation and agreements directly impact even companies that only sell in the domestic market.

STN: How did that first year compare to your expectations?

Hubbard: I knew this would be a learning year, and I was not disappointed in that regard. The association strives to be proactive and provide as much value to members as possible through its various activities. I’ve had a lot of fun this year, and I’ve learned a heck of a lot along the way.

STN: What have been your biggest challenges?

Hubbard: Probably the biggest challenge has been learning to juggle all the association activities. While trade took up a lot of time, this is not the only issue members care about. Safety, environment and other issues have a major impact on a company’s bottom line, so it is important to devote as much time and effort as possible to these areas. It is also important to speak to members and learn about issues in great detail in order to provide comments to the government on areas of concern to members.

STN: I understand Jim Conner, your predecessor, continues to play a role in the association. Have you turned to him for advice and counsel during your first year? How has he helped?

Hubbard: Jim Conner has been with AYSA for 30 years, and working with him, I realize that I have some mighty big shoes to fill. Given his time at the association, he has been a great source of background information about when and why particular laws and regulations were enacted. He has also been a great source of advice and counsel in a number of areas. He’s a great mentor.

STN: How have you gone about communicating AYSA’s position or message in Washington and elsewhere this past year?

Hubbard: AYSA has communicated its message and concerns in Washington this year through letters, phone calls and numerous personal meetings. Capitol Hill staff, members of Congress and people at various government agencies have been good to meet and speak with us a great deal.

We also worked with ATMI and NCC to develop a common industry position on the recently passed trade bill. All three organizations believed it important to present a united textile industry in meetings with members of Congress.

STN: Charles, after your term as AYSA president, please reflect on a few accomplishments of the group during your tenure.

Little: I jokingly indicated at the annual meeting last year that this would be the year of little. The first few months, given the abysmal nature of business for yarn spinners, unfortunately lived up to this prognostication. By good fortune, business conditions improved dramatically for most members and a decent year will be recorded.

U.S. trade issues dominated the scene and the AYSA agenda this past year. While we would not say the legislation just signed into law by President Bush met our needs necessarily, I would conclude that the untiring effort of our staff on Capitol Hill had a tremendously positive impact on Capitol Hill on influencing the legislation that Congress brought forth.

Jim Conner and Mike Hubbard spent a great deal of time educating the leadership in Congress and their staff as to the negative implications of many of the trade initiatives that were considered.

I am quite proud of the effort put forth by AYSA, ATMI and the NCC to seek common ground on trade issues. I am likewise ecstatic that AYSA continues to be supported in membership by an extremely high percentage of companies eligible. The complexity of international trade has easily led to factions with different political agendas. At no time in the history of our textile industry have we needed to speak with a common voice more so than today.

STN: What thoughts cross your mind as you prepare to leave office after having served the industry and the association in this leadership capacity?

Little: I am a yarn spinner born and bred. My admiration for my father and the role he played in combining the Carded Yarn Spinners and the Combed Yarn Spinners into the American Yarn Spinners Association and his serving as the second president is a foremost thought. I have had the unique opportunity to follow in his footsteps as president of an organization he was and I am most proud.

I am extremely grateful to the AYSA membership for having been given this opportunity. I carry with me an appreciation of the quality of people with whom I have been associated and of lasting friendships forged.

STN: How is your company, Mount Vernon Mills, adapting to the rapidly changing environment?

Little: Mount Vernon is sharply focused on our customers’ needs and recognizes the ramifications of the emerging global marketplace in which we will compete. Our solid financial position allows our concentration on offering valued products and services to our business partners. In short, we move to quickly incorporate the technological innovations of our rapidly changing environment and we maintain a constant thrust to reinvent ourselves in order to continue to deliver value.

STN: Having come up through the AYSA ranks with Jim Chesnutt, your expected successor, please comment on the leadership strengths he brings to the table and your working relationship with him.

Little: Jim Chesnutt is passionately committed to fighting for the interests of our association and this industry. He is extremely sharp and has a vast knowledge of this industry and the challenges that we are confronted with. I have appreciated Jim’s candor and counsel in the years I have worked with him.

AYSA Annual Meeting

Week of September 2, 2002

Membership, involvement, unity rank high

Incoming president lays out platform

Editor’s note: Following is a Q&A with Jim Chesnutt, president and CEO of National Spinning, Washington, NC, and first vice president of the American Yarn Spinners Association (AYSA). Chesnutt is in line for the presidency of AYSA, with elections scheduled during the group’s annual meeting at The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, WV, Sept. 8-11. Chesnutt answered questions submitted by STN Editor Devin Steele.

STN: What goals have you established for AYSA when you become president?

Chesnutt: We have established five goals:

1) We will focus on membership in an effort to assure that AYSA represents the entire sales yarn industry. Presently, AYSA represents roughly 90 percent of the companies in the industry; however, we would like to increase that number.

2) We will be involved as much as possible in Washington with implementing rules and regulations for the Andean trade bill and other trade legislation. To be successful, we must have greater participation in the AYSA YarnPac.

3) We will work hard to understand the unique needs of the different types of yarn manufacturing systems and varied products in an effort to better serve the various segments of the industry. This will make the association stronger.

4) We will work overtime if necessary to assure that all segments of this broad textile industry can agree on specific items and present a unified voice in Washington. Time has been wasted in the past and this lack of agreement has had a negative on many members.

5) We will work to ensure that future legislation and trade agreements benefit the domestic industry. In the past this, unfortunately, has not been the case.

STN: What do you expect to be the biggest challenges facing the group this upcoming fiscal year?

Chesnutt: As an industry, sales yarn appears to be doing OK. However, certain sectors of the industry are not doing as well as others. I would like to see spinners, throwsters and dyers of all fibers benefit from future economic improvement. We continue to suffer from extremely low-priced imports of fibers, yarns, textile goods and apparel.

Much of this price pressure comes from subsidies, currency devaluations and a myriad of unfair trade practices. Failed policy in Washington has created many of our problems. We must work collectively to elicit change.

STN: Your term as president of the North Carolina Manufacturers Association ended a couple of years ago, and now, you’re in line to become the next AYSA president. Why is serving in leadership positions important to you?

Chesnutt: I have been in this industry for more than 30 years. My feeling is that it is not only an honor and privilege to be asked to serve, but an obligation to give back to an industry that has been kind and rewarding to me.

During my career, I have watched many individuals in leadership roles contribute to the yarn industry and now I hope that I can do the same. We are much stronger as an industry because so many are willing to give of their time to the AYSA through involvement — serving as board members, officers and in our committee structure.

STN: How do you anticipate serving in the top elected position of this group will differ from holding a similar post with NCMA?

Chesnutt: The NCMA is primarily involved at the state level and therefore is more concerned with what happens in Raleigh, while the AYSA must be focused on Washington. The last three years at NCMA have been an important transition period with the addition of manufacturers from industries other than textiles. Jim Cowen and Milt Gold have provided excellent leadership during this period preceding and succeeding my term as president. That organization is doing very well under Jim Bell’s management and serving the North Carolina segment of the manufacturing industry very well in Raleigh.

STN: Your company, National Spinning, seems to be doing a lot of things right. Please explain some of the initiatives it has taken to get to this point and the company’s vision.

Chesnutt: We have focused on the needs of our customers and where and what they will be doing in the future. It is our belief that this must be our first initiative as, without customers, there is no place for National. Quality and cycle time, cost reduction and “right sizing “ have received major emphasis.

Our business model is under constant review and change as the market environment seems to change daily. The entire team at National is totally focused on our customers.

STN: National has expanded through acquisition of facilities from Glen Raven over the past year or so. How do these transactions fit your strategy?

Chesnutt: The addition of the former GR facilities enable National to better serve its customers now and into the future. We have been able to focus each of our facilities on a more narrow range of products and thus have become more efficient while at the same time reducing cycle time.

STN: What are your thoughts on the recent trade bill that was passed? What effects do you think it will have on the yarn-spinning and cotton sectors, as well as the weaving and knitting sectors?

Chesnutt: Frankly, I did not like the final bill that was passed, particularly with the way some of the oversight provisions were watered down in the trade promotion authority section. Most textile companies probably are not too comfortable with TPA, even if it did have stronger oversight provisions.

How can we trust those in Washington when that trust has not been earned?

On balance, I think yarn spinners and especially the cotton sector came out OK. Only time will tell the effect on the knitter and weaver.

Presently the experience in the Caribbean is encouraging. However, Africa and the Andean agreements have the opportunity to offset gains.

The Bush Administration has made many promises. I am willing to give it a chance; however, we must not let our guard down. I hope all our membership is paying close attention to who will represent them in Washington when the elections are over in November.

STN: Is your company exploring opportunities in the Caribbean, Andean region or Africa? Either way, please explain.

Chesnutt: We are working closely with our customers as they become involved in the various areas and to date have been moderately successful with sales to the region. Cotton yarn consumption as grown faster in the region. However, we believe acrylics are poised for growth, including the addition of knitting machines for sweater fabric and sweater finishing.

STN: What forthcoming legislation or areas of trade do you see coming down the pike during your presidency that AYSA members should be concerned with?

Chesnutt: There are a few areas of trade that I believe we need to watch carefully. As noted already, AYSA must be involved in a positive manner with any implementing regulations or even a technical corrections bill, should Congress take one up in regard to the Andean trade bill.

The U.S. is also in free trade negotiations with countries and regions all over the world. AYSA needs to do whatever possible to ensure that these agreements are yarn forward, meaning only the signatory countries’ yarns and fabrics can be used to qualify for benefits. With all the unfair trade practices that we encounter around the world, the U.S. does not need to give duty-free benefits to countries that do not play by the rules.

STN: You are a big booster and cheerleader of “Down East” North Carolina. Any positive signs of economic growth in that rather large region east of I-95, which industry has been known to snub in the past?

Chesnutt: Eastern North Carolina is in real trouble and, because of flawed policy in Washington and neglect in Raleigh, is becoming a wasteland. Manufacturing job losses, especially in the textile and apparel industries, have reached the critical level. Agriculture has its own set of problems.

The State of North Carolina budget is in serious trouble and I don’t see much nearby to create changes necessary for the Eastern part of the state to be economically sound. I see very little going on in Raleigh that contains a realistic plan to solve many of the state’s problems — just the same old spend and tax on the same old programs that don’t work.

No one has figured out that we just cannot afford every “feel-good” program that is suggested. We need jobs. The small towns are just dying. Our county has an “official” unemployment rate of 10 percent, with more layoffs coming. The county budget is in trouble. Recruitment of new jobs is almost impossible. Sounds bad — it is. Government policies must change!

Hopefully, the East Carolina Pirates will have a good football season.

AYSA Annual Meeting

Week of September 2, 2002

About AYSA

The American Yarn Spinners Association is the national trade association of the sales yarn industry in the United States. Its membership includes more than 100 corporations who operate over 300 yarn spinning, texturing, mercerizing and dyeing plants. Members produce spun yarn on the ring spinning, woolen and worsted, open-end, air jet and modified worsted systems from virtually all natural and man-made fibers.

AYSA officers


Charles L. Little Jr.
Mount Vernon Mills, Inc.
LaFrance, SC
President

James W. Chesnutt
National Spinning Co.
Washington, NC
First vice president

Steve Dobbins
Carolina Mills
Maiden, NC
Second vice president

Fred Jackson
American & Efird
Mt. Holly, NC
Treasurer

Michael S. Hubbard
AYSA
Gastonia, NC
Executive vice president
& secretary

Directors

Terms expiring in 2002


Allen Barwick
Shuford Mills, Inc.
Hickory, NC

Marshall Cooper
Harriet & Henderson Yarns
Henderson, NC

Mark B. Kent
The Kent Mfg. Co.
Pickens, SC

Will McGhee
Ameritex Yarn LLC
Burlington, NC

Terms expiring in 2003


W. Ralph Jones III
Jones Companies, Ltd.
Humboldt, TN

William G. Ragsdale
Oakdale Cotton Mills
Jamestown, NC

Anderson D. Warlick
Parkdale Mills, Inc.
Gastonia, NC

Terms expiring in 2004


Charles J. Buie Jr.
Charles Craft, Inc.
Laurinburg, NC

Bruce N. Lanier Jr.
Wehadkee Yarn Mills
West Point, GA

Howell Newton
Trio Mfg. Co.
Forsyth, GA

Jerry Rowland
National Textiles
Winston-Salem, NC

ATMA

Week of September 2, 2002

ATMA merger creates Manufacture Alabama

MONTGOMERY, AL — The Alabama Textile Manufacturers Association (ATMA) has merged with two other manufacturing-related organizations to create a broader trade association called Manufacture Alabama.

The goal of the group is to make Alabama attractive for manufacturers.

Manufacture Alabama, Inc. will focus solely on manufacturer issues in the state. The Alabama Chemical Association (AlaChem) and the Alabama Industry and Manufacturers Association (AIM) were included in the merger.

“All three associations have common interests and goals, and together create a stronger, more unified voice,” said George Clark, president, Manufacture Alabama, who previously served as president of AIM. “Manufacture Alabama will work to attract a broad-based group of members and will be active and engaged in the governmental process in support of the state’s manufacturing base.”

Manufacture Alabama will represent all manufacturers and their partner industries throughout the state. The board of directors includes representatives from the chemical, textiles, heavy industry, ductile pipe, pulp and paper, oil and gas and shipbuilding, among others.

A nine-member board of directors, a president of the association and a chairman of the board govern Manufacture Alabama.

ATMA celebrated its 100th year last year. Textile trade associations in the Carolinas created similar manufacturing organizations in recent years.

Among board members of Manufacture Alabama are the most recent ATMA presidents — Hollis Mann, plant manager of Mount Vernon Mills Inc. in Tallassee; and Bill Shugart III, vice president of operations at W.Y. Shugart & Sons Inc. in Fort Payne.

Tom Bender, president of Bender Shipbuilding & Repair Co. Inc. in Mobile, and Jack Goldfrank, president of MeadWestvaco Coated Board in Phenix City, will serve three-year terms.

Serving five-year terms are: Al Heffernan, executive director of Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corp. in McIntosh; Tony Hines, president of U.S. Pipe in Birmingham; John Runge, chief financial officer of Hunt Refining Co. Inc. in Tuscaloosa; John Smyth, mill manager of International Paper Co. in Selma; and Danny Wallace, manufacturing director at BP Chemicals in Decatur.

“Manufacturing is the economic engine that keeps Alabama moving forward, but we’re currently in danger of running out of gas,” Clark said. “Since 1995, for example, Alabama has experienced a 17 percent decline in manufacturing jobs.”

Manufacture Alabama would focus on creating a business and political climate that first and foremost protects the state’s existing manufacturers, as well as encourages opportunities for growth and creation of new jobs.

Manufacture Alabama can be reached by phone at (334) 386-3000. Its address is 401 Adams Avenue, Suite 710 Montgomery, AL 36104.

TRADE ACT OF 2002

Week of September 2, 2002

Machinery suppliers see challenges, opportunities

Editor’s note: The writer is president of the American Textile Machinery Association (ATMA).

By Harry W. Buzzerd

Now that President Bush has signed into law the Trade Act of 2002, the challenge for the U.S. textile machinery industry is to identify and take advantage of opportunities that will emerge as the law is implemented.

Many provisions of the Act deserve criticism, including the almost clandestine way it moved through the House/Senate conference. Nevertheless, the plain fact is that its enactment will start a series of actions that will have a profound impact on the domestic textile industry and therefore on U.S. textile machinery suppliers.

The Trade Act unquestionably contains provisions that will add to the import damage already being suffered by the U.S. textile industry. Large special quotas will permit the Andean and sub-Sahara African countries to ship enormous quantities of duty-free apparel to the United States without requiring the use of U.S. fabrics or yarns. The Caribbean also received quota increases permitting the use of Caribbean knit fabrics, but with the requirement that they be made of U.S. yarns.

The basic rule for all three regions remains: Unlimited quantities of duty-free apparel can enter the U.S. only if it is made of U.S. yarns and fabrics — both wholly formed in the United States. If the domestic textile industry can move aggressively to take advantage of these requirements, it should see its exports increase and this should benefit suppliers of textile machinery to U.S. mills. The American Textile Machinery Association (ATMA) wants to do whatever it can to assist its domestic customers in developing this new business.

Another positive development is the requirement in other recently enacted legislation that all fabrics that qualify under the CBI and Andean provisions must be dyed, finished or printed in the United States. This ends the uncertainty and controversy created in Caribbean trade when the CBI bill was passed nearly two years ago. Again, this development can create opportunities for suppliers of dyeing, printing and finishing technology and equipment.

Congress and the Bush Administration appear to have sent a signal that they favor a regional pattern of trade involving yarn and fabric production primarily in the United States that serves garment-making in the Caribbean, the Andean region and Sub-Saharan Africa. This approach sets the stage for a more intense effort by the Bush Administration as it accelerates negotiations on a free trade agreement with Central America and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Those negotiations will pose new challenges regarding rules of origin and customs enforcement.

But the Trade Act does more than set the trade rules for these three regions. It also opens the door to new negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) that could imperil the recovery of the domestic textile industry, if history has taught us anything about the WTO.

Negotiations in the WTO (and before that, the GATT) have produced outcomes that exposed the domestic textile industry to increased import competition. Many WTO member countries are not satisfied that textile and apparel quotas will disappear in 2005 and are seeking even greater access to the U.S. market through tariff cuts. By any reasonable test, the U.S. textile industry has done more than its share with the quota phaseout and our government must resist the arguments of other countries for more access.

The Trade Act is helpful in that regard because it defines specific negotiating objectives for textiles that could help balance the outcome. These objectives call for other countries to open their markets to the equivalent extent that the U.S. textile and apparel market is open. They need to become the primary negotiating principle for textiles for the United States.

The challenge will be for the impacted industries (U.S. textiles, fibers and machinery) to work together to convince U.S. negotiators to interpret the objectives as intended and to act consistently with them. In addition, the U.S. negotiators must require others to open their markets and not acquiesce in cuts in U.S. tariffs.

The American Textile Machinery Association wants to work with the U.S. textile industry to help it find ways to profit from these new trade arrangements and negotiations. Both industries have come through some lean years, and both now face new threats and opportunities. If the U.S. textile industry succeeds, textile machinery manufacturers and suppliers in the United States succeed.

We pledge our support and we welcome the challenge.

Speak up

Commentary is welcomed. Contact STN Editor Devin Steele if you would like to voice your opinion on any matter concerning the textile industry and its suppliers.

Events

Week of September 2, 2002

State House rep. to speak to club

CHARLOTTE, NC — The Carolinas Textile Club will hold its first monthly meeting of fiscal year 2002-03 on Mon., Sept. 9.

The meeting is scheduled for noon at the Four Point Sheraton, 201 South McDowell Street here.

State House Representative Connie Wilson will address the group. Since first being appointed to the North Carolina Legislature in 1989, Rep. Wilson is a strong, pro-business legislator, being ranked three out of 120 House members by NCFREE, a business political information group in Raleigh.

She has received the National Federation of Independent Business legislator award for the past three terms.

Cost to attend for non-members is $15 per person.

Converting Mini-Show set for Greenville, SC

GREENVILLE, SC — Louis P. Batson Company and Converter Accessory Corporation (CAC®) will team up to present a Converting Mini-Show on October 1.

The event scheduled from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Greenville Hilton.

“We are offering converting professionals in Greenville and the surrounding areas a unique opportunity to gather as an industry and discuss pertinent issues and concerns,” said Dreugh Batson, Converting Group manager at Louis P. Batson Company.

This is a free, informal and educational “walk-in” product demonstration. Tabletop displays and trained personnel will be readily available. This is not a seminar or day-long demonstration, as participants are encouraged to come and go at their own convenience. Light refreshments will be served and door prizes will be given away throughout the day.

As a bonus, two free Web Spreading Presentations will take place at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. These will be presented by Jeff Damour, a leading expert in web wrinkle removal. Free copies of the presentation white paper will be available to attendees.

CAC®, located in Wind Gap, PA, designs, engineers and manufactures web handling equipment for converters of paper, film, foil, nonwovens and textiles. It will be demonstrating:
• core support systems — air shafts and chucks, mechanical shafts and chucks, core cones;
• web guiding — proportional all Electric web edge and line guide controls and positioners;
• tension control systems — ultrasound automatic tension controls and brakes;
• wrinkle-removal systems — Wrinkle-STOP® No-Bow spreader rolls and scroll rolls
• safety shaft holders — new pinch-point free safety chucks;
• shaft support systems — shaft holders and shaft holder assemblies;
• pneumatic conveying systems — FoxTrimAway® trim and matrix removal systems; and
• idler rolls — new low-inertia idler rolls.

For more information, contact Dreugh Batson or Marie Cox at 864-242-5262 or by e-mail at batson@lpbatson.com.

Clemson University to sponser seminars

CLEMSON, SC — A Narrow Fabrics Technical Workshop sponsored by Clemson University is scheduled for Sept. 25-26 at the Sheraton Charlotte Airport Hotel in Charlotte, NC.

Clemson also is sponsoring a Fundamentals of Textiles seminar Oct. 29-Nov. 1 at the Madren Conference Center here.

The seminar will include a tour of Clemson’s textile labs and USDA’s laboratories for equipment demonstrations.

For more information, call Kay James at 864-656-2200 or visit the Web site www.ODCE.clemson.edu/textile.html.

SMART Conference scheduled for Sept.

BETHESDA, MD — Executives and industry leaders from the textile recycling industry will attend the 2002 Mid-Year Executive Management Conference presented by the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART).

The conference will take place Sept. 29–Oct. 2 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New Orleans. SMART’s membership includes company owners, business executives, plant managers, sales people and other for-profit entities dealing in the processing and distribution of recycled textile material throughout the world.

For information, call (301) 656-1077 or go to www.smartasn.org.

Home Textiles

Week of September 2, 2002

Sargent creates Springs’ designs

FORT MILL, SC — American consumers are being introduced to dramatic bedding and bath collections as the color-rich Susan Sargent Home Collection for Wamsutta begins arriving in stores around the nation.

Susan Sargent, a New England textile artist, is widely acclaimed for her saturated colors and imaginative interpretation of traditional design.

“This new collection for Wamsutta has the same strong, warm and comforting colors I’ve always emphasized,” said Sargent, whose new Wamsutta collection includes comforters, sheets, quilts and bath accessories. “I think it’s just the kind of look the consumer wants today.”

Three 200-count all-cotton comforter sets, each with comforter, sham and bedskirt, and three coordinating sheet sets of 220 cotton, made their appearance in July at stores across the country.

The collection includes:
• Blue Waltz — a pattern of periwinkle and violet roses on ribbons of celery green with berries and leaves;
• Sunshine Tango — featuring multi-colored flowers on a lemon yellow field with kiwi green polka dots in a wavy frame; and
• Foxtrot — displaying bursts of contemporary flowers in gold, poppy and tangerine on a magenta field.

Two dramatically colored quilts that coordinate to the comforters and sheets in the Susan Sargent Home Collection for Wamsutta will arrive in stores on Sept. 25. The quilts give consumers a number of decorating options, such as layering with the coordinating comforter, displaying as a decorative wall hanging, or folding on a chair or trunk to provide bursts of color in a room.

Waltz Time, which coordinates with Blue Waltz comforter and sheet sets, is an appliquéd folk art floral quilt in blocks of periwinkle and violet with celery green and aqua accents framed by intricate geometric borders.

The quilt Quickstep coordinates with the Sunshine Tango comforter and sheet sets and is alive with bold multi-colored geometric shapes in a cobalt blue frame.

In addition, the bath coordinates Blue Waltz — periwinkle, violet and celery green — and Fish Dance — a sea of multi-colored fish swimming through cool blues and greens — were available last week. Each style includes a cotton canvas shower curtain, an embossed ceramic accessories, stenciled wood tissue and waste, resin shower curtain hooks, an appliquéd and embroidered towel, a cut shuttle chenille rug with velvet appliqué and chain stitch embroidery.

For a number of years, Sargent has been producing handmade textile products for distribution through boutiques and her own store in Vermont. Her designs have earned her a wide reputation as a master colorist.

Nancy Webster, the Springs Industries’ designer who worked with Sargent to design the collection, said the Wamsutta-Susan Sargent Designs Inc., licensing agreement brings Sargent’s vibrant colors and fresh approach to a much broader audience and underscores Wamsutta’s dedication to great design for the American consumer.

“The Susan Sargent Home Collection for Wamsutta is not only about sophisticated colors and premium quality bedding, but also about styling for today and tomorrow,” Webster said. “There is nothing else out there like it.”

WestPoint expands licensing initiative

WEST POINT, GA — WestPoint Stevens announced last week further expansion of its licensing initiative, adding flannel, jersey, kitchen and beach items in an ongoing drive to widen the range of products under its famous brands.

A license has been granted to Franco Manufacturing Company, Inc., for flannel and jersey sheets and coordinated accessories for company-owned brands that include Martex, Grand Patrician, Patrician, Lady Pepperell and Five Star Hotel. Franco will also produce beach towels and kitchen accessories — kitchen towels, potholders, mitts — for all of these brands, as well as Utica and Stevens.

A license has been granted to Notra Morgan Home Fashions to produce flannel and jersey sheets, as well as their coordinated accessories, for Utica and Stevens.

Notra Morgan will also market high-quality, innovative products under the Vellux brand name that closely parallel the well-known “performance story” of the company’s Vellux blanket — high-tech delivery of warmth without weight, easy-care and appearance enhanced by launderings. The first such product will be a high-quality flannel sheet that offers a “velvet” appearance and is highly resistant to pilling.

“For our consumers, we’re continuing to offer more branded choices that carry the names they recognize and trust,” said Robert B. “Bob” Dale, president of the bed and bath division. “For our retail partners, we’re continuing the move to offer complete assortments in all our areas of presentation. In turn, this enables our customers to offer one-stop shopping at retail.”

“Franco Manufacturing Company, Inc., is tremendously excited at the opportunity to work with the top brands in the home fashions industry,” said David L. Franco, vice president of sales. “We’re all about brand building, and this partnership enables both WestPoint Stevens and Franco to leverage our individual strengths.”

Fall NYHTS scheduled

WHITE PLAINS, NY — The fall 2002 New York Home Textiles Show® will feature some 150 international companies from more than 25 countries, representing nearly 40 percent of the show’s exhibitor base.

The 22nd semi-annual edition of the show, set for Oct. 11-14, will feature government-sponsored pavilions from China, Israel, South Africa and, for the first time, Japan.

In addition, 90 independent companies will participate from Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, China, Columbia, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, Portugal, Republic Of South Africa, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom, as well as some 60 businesses exhibiting under the auspices of government and international trade associations.

Targeting retailers with product lines specifically developed for the American consumer, this diverse manufacturing base will meet the needs of attendees sourcing new products from around the globe.

Fabric notes

Week of September 2, 2002

KoSa, Celanese Acetate unveil ‘breakthrough’

NEW YORK CITY — Celanese Acetate, the world’s largest acetate producer, and KoSa, a leader in the polyester industry, have introduced a series of development fabrics under the fabric brand name Cel-Aire.

The fabrics consist of KoSa’s StretchAire® polyester filling with Celanese’s acetate warp.

The woven development fabrics include satins, twills and plain weaves for women’s and men’s apparel.

“StretchAire, introduced by KoSa in 2001, is a unique polyester yarn, engineered to give comfort stretch with a cotton-like hand and feel,” said Suzette MsHugh, market manager at KoSa. “In addition to its stretch and recovery properties, StretchAire yarns have more bulk and a softer hand than standard polyester yarns. StretchAire yarns are not elastomeric and are therefore easy to handle.

“Combining them with Celanese acetate in the new Cel-Aire product is a breakthrough for us.”

StretchAire yarns are available as a 115 denier/86 filament semi-dull textured yarn. Celanese acetate used in the warps includes 75/20, 115/50 and 150/40.

In addition to commercial dyeing and finishing, these stretch fabrics have also been heat-transfer printed. A major attribute of Cel-Aire fabric is the acceptable union-dye shade achieved under atmospheric dyeing conditions, according to the manufacturers.

“The new Cel-Aire series of fabrics are extraordinary because they demonstrate all the positive benefits of the new StretchAire yarn combined with the softness, luster and drape of Celanese acetate,” said Keith Nagy, director of filament at Celanese Acetate.

Springfield line includes dry-wicking properties

JERICHO, NY — Springfield Occupational Apparel has added new moisture-wicking properties to its highly successful Airo-Soft™ fabric line, producing a material that stands up to a physically active work day while remaining soft, smooth and comfortably dry, the manufacturer said.

Airo-Soft’s specifically engineered hydrophilic finish rapidly transports moisture away from the skin to the fabric surface, where it can evaporate, Springfield said. Work shirts and uniform apparel made with Airo-Soft keep people dry and comfortable, even in hot, humid conditions, it added.

Airo-Soft hydrophilic retains the strength, resilience and easy-care qualities that are essential for industrial work clothes and career apparel, the maker reported. It is constructed to withstand the rigors of repeated industrial laundering and has excellent soil release characteristics, added the firm.

“Airo-Soft Hydrophilic workwear fabrics feel great and look much better at the end of the work day, even under extremely warm, humid conditions,” said Frank Reese, vice president of Springfield. “Plus, the fabric maintains the strength, color retention and high wearability standards that are imperative in all Springfield fabrics.”

Airo-Soft is available in a variety of weights in both women and knitted styles and can be dyed to customer specifications.

Crystal Textile Group launches spacer fabrics

NEW YORK CITY — The Crystal Textile Group, formerly The Tricot Man, has launched a line of spacer fabrics under the Spacer-Lite name for a wide variety of apparel, medical, industrial and technical end-uses.

Spacer fabrics consist of two outer textile substrates, which are joined together and kept apart by an insert of spacer yarns. This design creates a ventilated layer of air, allowing heat and moisture to escape. The basic substrates, while limited, can be developed in various novelties.

“Spacer-Lite is far softer than laminated fabrics used for the same purposes and retains its qualities after repeated launderings,” said Richard Crystal, CEO of the vertically integrated, knit and fabric company. “By virtue of such qualities, this extremely versatile fabric is perfectly suited for such end uses as lingerie, bras, swimwear and activewear.”

Spacer-Lite also offers anti-microbial, anti-mildew, anti-static, flame-retardant, absorptive, water repellent and abrasion resistance properties — making it ideal for an array of medical, industrial and technical applications, Crystal added.

Crystal and its associated, family-owned North Carolina-based companies — Warp Knit Mills and Crystal Dyeing and Finishing — service a broad range of fashion and high-tech fabrics trades and provide full research and development capabilities.

Superior says products fight moisture, abrasion

POMPANO BEACH. FL — Superior Fabrics, Inc. has introduced Wicktex™, a line of advanced moisture-management fabrics created from DuPont-Akra’s new Delcron® Hydrotec polyester fiber.

Unlike conventional polyesters (PET), Wicktex fabrics exhibit a strong affinity for water and aqueous liquids, quickly soaking them up and wicking them away, Superior said. Moreover, the fabrics retain these properties permanently, even through repeated laundering cycles, the company claimed.

At the same time, all the desirable properties of polyester, such as high strength, high elongation and fast recovery, remain in effect, Superior added.

Wicktex is currently available in two Superior products — traditional Supreme stitchbond and new FleeceLock — both of which take full advantage of moisture adsorption, retention and wicking properties of this new technology.

Typical applications for Wicktex fabrics include shoe linings, cap and hat sweatbands, anklebands, wristbands and waistbands. These same properties also make Wicktex ideal for greenhouse irrigation mats and incontinence pads, Superior noted.

Superior Fabrics is offering this fabric line in weights ranging from 2 to 9 ounces per square yard, and in widths up to 150 inches.

Superior Fabrics has also introduced an advanced nonwoven polyester fabric it says stands up to repeated abrasion and avoids pilling and fabric disintegration.

The durable new stitchbond is created from standard-grade, normal tenacity polyester yarns, using Superior’s proprietary technology to achieve premium-grade performance characteristics.

Superior said it expects the new fabric to prove especially useful for heavy-use, high-visibility applications, such as office wall-divider panels and soft-sided luggage. In rigorous product tests, the non-pilling stitchbond fabric demonstrated exceptional resistance to friction, while retaining all the desirable properties of normal polyester, such as high strength/weight ratio, high elongation and versatility in a wide range of dyeing and printing processes, the company added.

“By adding high-performance value to competitively priced stitchbond fabrics, this new product presents an extraordinary profit opportunity for manufacturers,” said Robert Fryburg, president of Superior. “It also provides obvious quality benefits to commercial customers and consumers.”

Squires Hightech touts material for backpacks

FAIRFIELD, CT — Saddle-Cloth®Packweight is the latest generation of performance fabrics from the innovators at Squires Hightech Corp.

The fabrics are used in backpacks and gear bags.

With its suede finish, Saddle-Cloth is impervious to water and offers rugged versatility and superior function, Squires said. Seven layers of the fabric combine for excellent tear strength, abrasion resistance and extreme durability, the manufacturer added.

The fibers on the face of Saddle-Cloth are DuPont Antron III®, a microdenier nylon, and are directional, which provides for superior water resistance.

“This is not hardware — it’s more software,” said Dana Gleason of Mystery Ranch, which uses Saddle-Cloth for its Mystery Ranch Backpacks. “Not everyone is climbing Everest. Gear doesn’t need to be technical for the sake of being technical. It needs to fit the person.”

Duro Ind. committed to UV-blocking fabric

FALL RIVER, MA — Duro Industries announced recently that it is making a major commitment to produce and market Solarweave® UV fabrics, the ultraviolet blocking fabric developed by the Solar Protective Factory.

Duro, a synthetic fabric finisher, said it is the first and only finisher licensed by SPF® to sell Solarweave fabrics directly to garment manufacturers and marketers.

Solarweave has previously been available only on a limited basis, directly from the Solar Protective Factory.

Solarweave fabrics are the first fabrics to earn the International UV Testing Laboratory’s UV BLOCK® Certification and Seal as “Excellent UV Protection.” This top-rating was awarded to Solarweave fabrics after passing rigorous U.S. guidelines for garment testing and labeling established by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

“Solarweave is unique in that it gives consumers the protection they need from the sun without any sacrifice in comfort or style,” said Ben Galpen, Duro Finishing director of sales. “We’re excited that we can make this technology available to a much greater number of manufacturers and consumers through our agreement with SPF. Because Solarweave adds value to the final garment, we see it as a growing element of our business and believe it will eventually be incorporated into other fabrics we produce.”

SPF CEO Harvey Schakowsky said his company has had a long association with Duro, which has finished fabrics for them on a limited basis to meet orders made by manufacturers through SPF. This is the first time, however, that Duro or any other finisher has been licensed to sell Solarweave directly to its customers.

Allergen-barrier fabric from Precision patented

GREENSBORO, NC — Precision Fabrics Group has been issued U.S. Patent No. 6,277,770 for its line of allergen-barrier fabrics.

The patent is entitled “Durable, Comfortable, Air-permeable Allergen Barrier Fabrics.” The fabrics are constructed of tightly woven yarns, specially selected to give the optimum balance of softness, comfort and durability.

A unique finishing process is applied to the fabric, which form a barrier to dust, dust mites and associated allergens while allowing passage of air and moisture vapor, Precision said.

PFG’s patent gives it the exclusive right to make, use and sell allergen barrier fabric covered by its claims.

Specifically, the patent covers two basic points. One, the patent encompasses woven membrane-free fabrics manufactured from a variety of fiber combinations that meet specific criteria of air permeability, fabric flexibility and moisture vapor transport.

Two, it embodies fabrics that meet these criteria and are sold into bedding items such as covers for pillows, mattresses and duvets.

The inventors are John Martin Smith III and Charles Woody Duckett, both of Precision Fabrics Group.

L.P. Batson

Week of September 2, 2002

L.P. Batson companies announce sales

GREENVILLE, SC — Batson Yarn and Fabrics Machinery Group, Inc., a division of Louis P. Batson Co., announced the sale of an eight-spindle Twistec twisting machine to Cortland Cable Company of Cortland, NY.

Twistec is manufactured by Twistechnology® of Barcelona, Spain.

Twistechnology was the first Spanish textile machinery manufacturer to be given ISO-9001 certification. Its line of machinery is known for its ease of operation and virtually maintenance-free activity, Batson said.

The Twistec twisting system, which has independent spindles for total flexibility, is one of four systems offered. Additional systems include the Twistar for high-speed, high-quality twisting; the Twispeed for maximum speeds and twist quality; and Twistup, a revolutionary in-line process that allows for the completion of a two-step twisting process in a single operation.

Twistup eliminates downtime by imparting both individual ply twist and twisting of the multi-ply bundle in a single process, Batson said.

In addition, the Twistechnology line of machinery offers the patented “guaranteed twist.” A timing belt equipped with a programmed detector allows the speed of a twist to be adjusted automatically at the slightest variance from the desired pattern.

The result is a uniform twist from the beginning to the end of each process. In turn, production speed is increased and the end product is of the highest quality, Batson added.

Twisting can be done for all types of netting, cords, ropes, trimmings for fashion, electrical cables, fire hoses, electrical fences and artificial grass, to name a few.

L.P. Batson Co.

Parent company Louis P. Batson Company announced the addition of ShuR-BusT to its “ShuR” line of products.

ShuR-BusT is a fast-acting penetrant, lubricant and de-moisturant that immediately cuts through dirt, rust and scale to quickly get into parts that have been frozen by or encrusted with corrosion and oxidation, Batson said.

ShuR-BusT loosens nuts and bolts, will not dry or harden, leaves a protective shield- like film, will not ignite, reduces friction between parts and seals out water to prevent moisture and corrosion, the company added.

ShuR-BusT will even penetrate water when sprayed on boat motors and submerged parts.

L.P. Batson, Inc.

Louis P. Batson Incorporated, an affiliate of Louis P. Batson Company, announced the sales of a CRMTO foam ball milling machine to Century Foam, located in Elkhart, IN.

The machine has the ability to trim foam stock and form it into balls in a continuous operation. The unit contains two sets of cups, one for rough shaping into balls, another for finishing the balls to the required diameter.

The diameter of the milling cups can be ordered to suit the need. A built-in dust extractor and collector helps to keep the work area clean during the forming process.

L.P. Batson Inc. also announced an exclusive sales agreement with Negri Bossi America, located in Concord, Ontario, Canada. The agreement covers the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Eastern Tennessee and Eastern Alabama.

Under the agreement, Louis P. Batson will sell Negri Bossi America’s line of toggle clamp injection molding machines. Clamping force range is 40-1,400 metric tons.

The Canbio Series (40-700 metric tons) features the Negri Bossi CANBUS Control System. Developed with BOSCH Technologies, the system uses SMART digital components. This SMART system eliminates the need for analogue-to-digital signal conversion.

The result is a totally digital system of control with a cardless electrical panel.

The Canbio and Vector (830-1,400 metric tons) Series feature wireless patent pending communications between the Negri Bossi Machine and a central computer at the facility. To accomplish this task, the AMICO System includes a wireless host computer interface and the basic teleservice kit as standard on every machine.

Integration of the optional AMICO Remote Teleservice system and ACCESS Point communication receiver — which can be used for up to 50 machines — with the machine’s standard teleservice kit will enable Negri Bossi personnel to assist customers in diagnosing machine faults in real time and recalibrate components on-line, if necessary.

In addition, Louis P. Batson, Inc. announced an agreement to represent Vector Machinery, Inc. of Asheboro, NC. Under the agreement, Batson will market Vector Machinery’s complete line of heavy-gauge cut sheet thermoforming equipment.

Since its inception, Vector Machinery has specialized in the design and construction of high-speed rotary machines. All rotaries are available in three- and four-station models and are also available in high-pressure and twin-sheet configuration.

In response to market demands, Vector Machinery has also developed low-cost single-station-shuttle, and double-end-shuttle machines.

All Vector thermoforming machines are precisely engineered to be sturdy, efficient, reliable and affordable. Machine frames are designed to provide outstanding strength, rigidity and resistance to flexural loads.

Vector ovens are designed to provide superior efficiency to minimize cycle times and utility cost. The “Vector Vac” multi-zone programmable vacuum system ensures quick volume evacuation and maximum vacuum force at the instant of forming. All drive train components are driven electrically to ensure precise movement and control.

Allen-Bradley PLCs are used to program and control machine functions. The step-based machine program is both intuitive and user friendly, Batson said. All machines utilize an internal modem for remote communications, software updates and changes and system troubleshooting. Advanced sensor technology and numerous safety features are used throughout the machine system.

Batson Group

Batson Group, Inc. and Intra have announced that Batson will serve as exclusive marketing and sales for Intra’s complete line of automatic in-line and off-line winders, slitters and inspection systems for all types of roll goods in the U.S.

“Intra engineers and manufactures automatic winders of a quality and performance level equal to the best winders in the world,” said Jim Greene, Batson Group product manager.

Based in Spartanburg, SC, Intra has provided winding solutions in diverse applications for more than 20 years. Intra complements its manufacturing capabilities by providing design, installation and engineered solutions for its customers’ special needs.

“(Company President) Bob Owens and I are extremely excited to be allied with Batson Group, Inc. as our exclusive representative in the U.S. market,” said Jim Hill, Intra director of sales.

With the addition of Intra to its product line, Batson Group, Inc. offers complete production lines with in-line and off-line totally automatic winding solutions.

Downsizing

Week of September 2, 2002

Burlington, Culp to close facilities

GREENSBORO, NC — Bankrupt Burlington Industries is expected close plants in the North Carolina counties of Guilford and Rockingham, resulting in the loss of 330 jobs, according to reports.

The company plans to close its Stokesdale distribution center by the end of November, leaving about 190 people without a job, NC employment officials said.

Also, Burlington will close a plant in Reidsville, where about 140 people are employed, by the end of the year, the officials said.

About 60 people already have been let go at the Reidsville operation.

Earlier this year, Springs Industries bought Burlington’s drapery and bedding unit, not including the Stokesdale and Reidsville operations, which make and distribute those products. Those plants have remained open during a transition.

Culp posts loss, announces closure

HIGH POINT, NC — Culp Inc., while reporting a first-quarter loss due to an accounting change, said it plans to close a plant with 300 employees.

The company, which makes upholstery fabric, will shut its Chattanooga, TN, plant, where 350 people are employed. That represents about 10 percent of the company’s work force. About 50 jobs at that facility will be moved to other plants, according to the company.

Culp lost $23.2 million, or $2.04 per share, in the first quarter, but would have made $915,000, or 8 cents a share, without the accounting change.

Net sales were $85.9 million, compared to $86.5 million for the same period a year ago.

Culp lost $2.9 million, or 26 cents a share, in the same quarter a year ago.

The plant closing, which is expected to be complete by the third quarter of fiscal year 2003, will allow the company to improve efficiency and cut costs, according to Robert G. Culp III, CEO. Employees at the plant handle weaving, finishing, yarn-making and distribution functions.

As a result of the closure, Culp said the company expects to save $12 to $15 million a year.

“We have made significant progress over the past year due to the success of our restructuring strategy and increased focus on achieving higher productivity from our current asset configuration,” Culp said.

The company also expects sales for the second quarter to be flat to slightly below sales for the same period last year, Culp said.

Loris yarn-spinning company to close

LORIS, SC — Loris Industries, a small, yarn-spinning facility here, plans to close its doors, leaving about 60 people out of work.

The facility has been open since 1997.

Company officials blamed cheap foreign imports for the closing.

Angelica to shutter garment-making plant

SAVANNAH, TN — Angelica Corp. is closing its Angelica Image Apparel plant with 242 employees here on Oct. 4. The plant made hospital and medical attire.

In March, Angelica announced earlier this year that it was selling its manufacturing and marketing business. By March, the company had found two buyers — Medline Industries and Cintas Corp., both of whom are also involved in uniform manufacturing.

The company has operated here for 30 years and the closing will end an era of cutting and sewing in Hardin County, which has seen garment makers H.I.S. in Saltillo and Savannah Manufacturing close in recent years.

In 1990, the county had 12 cut-and-sew industries but, since then, about 1,800 people in the industry have lost their jobs.

Aerostar to discontinue operations at SC plant

PARKSTON, SC — Garment-maker Aerostar International said it is discontinuing operations at its 45-employee plant here this fall.

Company officials blamed overseas competition for the closing.

Employees at the plant produce outerwear for catalog and sportswear companies.

Aerostar, a subsidiary of Raven Industries, took over Raven’s apparel division last year. The plant here has been in business for 24 years.

Aerostar operates three other sewing facilities in the state.

Briefs

Week of September 2, 2002

Russell Corp. buys Moving Comfort

ATLANTA — Russell Corporation announced Aug. 22 that it has acquired Moving Comfort, a leading brand of women’s performance activewear, based in Chantilly, VA.

Terms of the agreement were not released.

“Moving Comfort has been a leader in developing technically superior athleticwear for women since 1977,” said Jack Ward, Russell chairman and CEO. “Because of their positioning and the continued interest in fitness, we believe there is a tremendous opportunity to expand their sales and market share. Additionally, this acquisition fits our strategy to build brands with value added products that support our authentic athletic heritage.”

Moving Comfort will now become a line of business within Russell’s department and sports specialty stores channel. Its products include performance sport underwear, shorts, pants, tops and outerwear that support the company’s slogan “A fit woman is a powerful woman.®”

Moving Comfort was a privately owned company founded in 1977. Co-founders Ellen Wessel and Elizabeth Goeke will remain with the organization as president and executive vice president, respectively, and longtime partner Andy Novins will continue as vice president of finance.

Best Manufacturing to get Baker Linen

NEW YORK CITY — Best Manufacturing Group LLC has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the assets of Mahwah, NJ-based H. W. Baker Linen Co., Inc., a supplier of textiles, amenities and guest room supplies to the North American hospitality industry.

H. W. Baker Linen Co., Inc., founded in 1892, provides the hospitality industry with everything from sheets, towels and table linens, to blankets, pillows, bedspreads, amenities and other guest room supplies.

Cotton Inc. celebrates 20th year in Japan

NEW YORK CITY — Cotton Incorporated is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its Osaka, Japan office, the first office of its kind for the cotton industry, to service textile mills and manufacturers in East Asia and Southeast Asia.

The Osaka office has been instrumental in establishing relationships with key textile mills in the region during the last 20 years, Cotton Inc. said. It currently offers a variety of services ranging from fiber economics, fiber quality, fiber processing, dyeing and finishing, fabric development and apparel and home fashion forecasting.

In addition, the Osaka office coordinated the COTTECH Asia Conference in Pusan, Korea in 1998 and in Kobe, Japan in 2001. This conference was created to help mills and manufacturers enhance their dyeing and finishing technologies in order to increase the quality and profitability of cotton textiles.

Crysel, Acrylic Fibers to increase prices

GUADALAJARA, MEXICO — Crysel and its North American Sales subsidiary, Acrylic Fibers Corp. announced a price increase for acrylic fiber products, effective with October 1 shipments.

The increases of 10 to 20 percent are a result of an increasingly strong global demand on available capacity, as well as a significant and sustained increase in the cost of key raw materials, company officials said.

Crysel produces commodity and specialty acrylic staple, tow and top products and is the second largest acrylic fiber manufacturer in the Americas. Crysel delivers acrylic products for apparel, home furnishings, industrial and nonwoven end-uses.

Amilon LLC chooses Network Systems

GREENSBORO, NC — Network Systems International announced that Amilon LLC, a chenille yarn producer, has chosen the net collection® as its ERP and supply chain solution.

Amilon chose the net collection software solution as a tool to help deliver world-class service to its customers and to “keep a finger on the pulse of their business” every day, according to company officials.

Amilon, whose manufacturing plant is located in Wallace, NC, produces chenille yarns for upholstery, apparel and home furnishings. Amilon is a division of Lonfil of Italy, a producer of fine chenille yarns since 1977.

“We are pleased that Amilon has chosen our solution for its operation in Wallace, NC,” said Sonny Miller, vice president of Network Systems. “We have a robust product for yarn manufacturers that will be a natural fit for Amilon.”

Network Systems is celebrating its 17th year in business. The company has developed an integrated suite of software products for the textile, hosiery, home fashions and apparel industries.

The net collection addresses all requirements for capacity resource planning and cost, plant floor WIP manufacturing and inventory control, as well as managing customer relationships from e-commerce to pick and pack distribution.

Philadelphia University program accredited

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia University recently received accreditation for its bachelor of science degree in textile engineering from the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

This academic program joins an elite group of ABET-accredited programs offered in the U.S.

Since the institution’s founding in 1884 as a textile school, Philadelphia University has been a worldwide leader in textile education.

BMA opens distribution channels in Caribbean

PATERSON, NJ — Better Methods Alexander, a paper converter and provider of production supplies for apparel and sewn-products manufacturing, said it has moved aggressively in the latest quarter to open new distribution channels in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

These distribution channels will serve the growing number of Central American contract firms now competing as full package vendors and U.S. plants in the region.

The firm has extended its commitment to the region by providing papers for pattern and marker making, plotting, cutting rooms and marker duplicating, as well as requisite items such as polybags, hangers, spot cleaning chemicals and packaging supplies.

In Honduras and El Salvador, BMA has teamed up with RCS Inversiones, a distributor with an established network in those markets. In Guatemala, the firm has opted for its own sales and management team and opened an office with a 5,000 square-foot warehouse in Guatemala City.

Andrew Schulman, BMA’s manager in Florida, is now assuming the role of head of operations for the Caribbean and Central America.

Editorial

Week of September 2, 2002

Yarn spinners or truth tellers?

NATTERING NABOBS of negativity? Or ranting rascals of reality?

Today’s lead article, based on survey answers from members of the American Yarn Spinners Association (AYSA), falls short of qualifying for this week’s “feel-good story of the week,” for sure. A read-through of the piece certainly won’t leave you feeling confident about the future of textiles in this country. A sense of gloom seems to emanate from the article, although some of the sources did dispense hopefulness for their sector of the industry.

The responses of those industry leaders were gathered through a questionnaire aimed at putting a finger on the pulse of the yarn spinners. Truth be told, though, only a handful of AYSA members opted to take the survey, which was sent to a majority of members of the trade association.Whether or not their insights were representative of the broader organization is hard to determine, though staffers at its executive office insist those convictions were narrowly focused. Many of their members are seeing business pick up, the result of seeking and finding opportunities in the Caribbean and Central America, according to the AYSA office.

So, given the small sampling, take those opinions for what they’re worth.

WHILE WE KNOW it’s burdensome to stop running a business long enough to take another dreaded survey, we commend those who did. You spilled your guts for us — and our readers — when keeping such information private would have been a much easier decision. Some of the views were shielded in anonymity — which we don’t prefer, but will take if it means we’ll get brutal honesty in return.

Do you, too, feel as though you’re just “buying time,” with “not a great deal of hope in the long-term prospects,” as one responder wrote?

Do you, as well, believe that “long term, the spinning industry will follow the apparel and textile industries by moving offshore,” as another opined?

Are you, also, sensing that “conditions are slightly better, but the outlook is every bit as gloomy as it appeared a year ago,” to quote another?

If everyone feels that way, we’re all in trouble.

OTHER SURVEY takers were more optimistic. They affirmed their belief that yarn spinning will survive in the U.S., but not without further contraction and not without more specialty paths being forged. And we buy that notion. We also believe that assertion holds true for the entire textile manufacturing industry.

We know it may be difficult to be encouraged when Washington seems to be stuck in fourth gear when it comes to free-trade. More often than not, lawmakers seem more interested in attending to the needs of people in other countries than their own. Perhaps Jim Chesnutt, incoming AYSA president and president and CEO of National Spinning, said it best: “How can we trust those in Washington when that trust has not been earned?”

True. But we must try our best to work with these elected officials in getting the best (read: least hurtful) agreements possible. What other choice do we have? We must also make a better effort of communicating to these officials on a united front. We’ve been guilty of failing to do that in recent times. It’s no wonder many in Washington may be confused when trying to decide how to vote for measures that affect you.

The next few months will be interesting, to say the least, as we’ll see more clearly if opportunities will come your way or if your worst nightmares come true.

Just try to keep your chin up, be you a nattering nabob or a ranting rascal.

Etc.

Labor troubles aren’t the reason Major League Baseball and US Airways find themselves in deep ca-ca. But unions certainly aren’t trying to help ventilate the room, either. As of this writing, baseball players were on the verge of striking and mechanics at the nation’s sixth largest airline had rejected wage cuts sought by the bankrupt carrier to help win full approval of a government loan guarantee. Neither of these moves will help wipe the stink off these troubled entities.

Happy Labor Day.

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