Open house

Week of October 7, 2002

GTP Greenville plans to help
industry ‘focus on the music’

Koen Beckers, general manager of GTP Worldwide, introduces four longtime members of the GTP Greenville production team during a presentation to more than 300 textile manufacturing executives. Behind Beckers are (L-R) Bryan McDaniel, Barnwell Valentine Jr., Ellouise Ellenburg and Susan Hellams. The event, which followed with an open house, introduced U.S. users to the Global Textile Partnership concept.
Photo by Devin Steele

By Devin Steele

GREENVILLE, SC — More than 300 textile manufacturing representatives recently were given a firsthand look at Picanol N.V.’s new Global Textile Partner (GTP) concept.

Representatives of GTP Greenville, formerly Picanol of America — the U.S. arm of Belgium-based weaving machine manufacturer Picanol — hosted an open house and presentation at its renovated facility. The purpose was to introduce U.S. users to the concept, which the company introduced less than a year ago to embody its new customer-oriented organization based on business units.

GTP Greenville recently moved to 1801 Rutherford Road here, the location of its recent acquisition, Steel Heddle, Inc.

The purpose of the GTP business unit, which is 100 percent owned by Picanol N.V. but independently managed, is to act as a global service company by liaising closely with the customer at the local level throughout the textile industry, officials said.

“Ladies and gentlemen, weaving is an art, just as making music is,” Patrick Steverlynck, chairman of Picanol N.V., said during the presentation, which also included a tour of the facility. “We want to support you so you can focus on the music.”

GTP is primarily active in the weaving segment, but the long-term objective is to open it to the entire textile industry, he said. While in its present start-up phase GTP is mainly linked to Picanol, it plans to work with other OEMs in the future, he added.

The Global Textile Partner concept was rolled out at the turn of the year when Picanol acquired the textile division of Steel Heddle, Inc. here and Verbrugge N.V., located in Belgium, both producers of accessories for textile machinery. Picanol since entered into the joint venture Fercomm (90 percent GTP, 10 percent Ferber) in Italy for transport and logistics systems, before acquiring reed manufacturer Articulos Metalicos Pegaso S.A. of Mexico.

“Today, being the best in class and having the best weaving machines is not enough,” Steverlynck said. “Customers are requesting more than a good product. Customers are looking for a long-term partner offering an increasing range of value-adding services.

“Its global network, combined with its local presence and expertise, will characterize GTP. GTP is 100 percent customer-service oriented and focused on the total value chain of the textile industry. By offering a broad range of services GTP wants to become your one-stop solution.”

In this arrangement, Picanol will continue to design, develop and manufacture high-quality weaving machines, he added. Further, Picanol will market and sale fully operational new weaving machines and will remain liable and take full responsibility for its products, he said.

GTP, as a local organization, will focus on installation, commissioning and warranties; technician training; spare parts and after-sales service; electronic repair; upgrading and accessories; along with additional services, such as tailor-made training and consulting; asset management; and trading, overhaul and installation of second-hand machines.

“The American market is going through some difficult times, but I’m absolutely convinced that textiles has a future in this country,” Steverlynck said. “That’s why we have invested here. That’s why I believe in the future for GTP Greenville.”

Meanwhile, Koen Beckers, general manager of GTP Worldwide, provided a nuts-and-bolts presentation detailing each of five GTP business lines: installation, commissioning and troubleshooting; spare parts, accessories and upgrades; asset management; consulting and training; and second-hand machines and workshops.

Beckers also provided a personal touch to the program by introducing four longtime members of the GTP production team. Each employee — Ellouise Ellenburg, Susan Hellams, Barnwell Valentine Jr. and Bryan McDaniel — are “fully dedicated to the company,” he said, as illustrated by accompanying enlarged photos of each employee on the job. Ellenburg is a heddle final inspector, Hellams serves as a heddle quality assurance inspector, Valentine handles frame set up and McDowell is a reed machine operator.

He also pointed out that GTP has a head count of 545 worldwide, with 160 transferring from Picanol. First-year turnover projection for GTP is almost $80 million, he added.

GTP operates from six “gravity points” around the world — Greenville, Shanghai, Mexico City, Instanbul, Milan and Roeselare, Belgium, Beckers said.

Another speaker, Bill Carroll, sales manager for GTP Greenville, offered more information about Steel Heddle and its integration into GTP.

While it was commonplace in days gone by for companies to purchase equipment and supplies from a variety of sources, leaders today recognize the benefits and rewards of partnerships and single-source accountability, Carroll said.

“When making large capital investment decisions, careful consideration must be given to the support network required to sustain it,” he said. “Selecting the correct company to provide components can greatly enhance the quality, output and profit of your machinery.

“Even though Steel Heddle has always been your partner in the weave room, until now there has not been a total solution provider for your weaving needs. That’s about to change.”

Carroll also informed the group that the company introduced in 1898 its first heddle made of steel to U.S. mills. And today, he added, 90 percent of America’s weaving plants still rely on Steel Heddle for harness frames, heddles, reeds and drop wires.

“Our strong position in the market is the result of continued research and development programs, upgrading and capital improvements to enable us to give our customers the best products available in the market,” he said.

Jan Maes, Picanol worldwide sales manager, concluded the presentation by discussing new developments of Picanol products.

AYSA ANNUAL MEETING

Week of October 7, 2002

ATMI chairman seeks to solidify unity

AYSA Chairman Van May addresses Yarn Spinners.
Photo by Devin Steele

Part 3

By Devin Steele

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV — Van May, president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), brought a folksy style but firm message to American Yarn Spinners Association (AYSA) members recently.

“We need to improve our trade policies,” May said during the group’s 35th annual meeting here. “If we don’t, we’re going to look back and see that in a very short-term bubble of bad trade deals and currency imbalances, we have dismantled 150 years worth of infrastructure in this country and we’ll look back and see how foolish we were to let that go on.

“So I’m saying we ought to improve our trade policies. It’s the message that I’ve been trying to carry this year.”

May may have been preaching to the choir in this group — and a few “amens” may have even been heard in the audience — but he did have an underlying purpose in his address, he said: To solidify the unity forged between the cotton sector and the yarn-formation side — and encourage others to join in.

He cited the compromises reached between ATMI, AYSA and the National Cotton Council during debates surrounding the Trade and Development Act of 2002, and also touched on the criticism this bond produced in some circles of the industry.

“I’ve been castigated by some on the fabric formation side of the business, in the manmade fiber sector, saying that I’ve gotten too close to cotton because I’m a cotton guy — that I shouldn’t have negotiated with the Yarn Spinners, that I shouldn’t have negotiated with the Cotton Council, that we should’ve just dug our heels in the sand and been a non-player and not even been invited to the table,” said May, president and CEO of Plains Cotton Cooperative Association (PCCA), Lubbock, TX. “But I’ll tell you this: I’ll stand by the deals that we put together and the compromises that we made together to try to stay involved in the process and influence the outcome.

“And I’m not joining up with those who want to bury their head in the sand and just not be a player at all. I think that would be a mistake for all of us.”

Despite being “nipped at the heels,” he said he will continue to try to build coalitions within the industry.

“If you see ATMI going it alone on issues, you’ll know this: We’ve tried to build a coalition that failed,” May said. “And sometimes we’ll fail. We don’t always get together, I know that. But I need your help to share the vision, to recognize and to agree that our greatest chance for success is when we speak together. Unity implies compromise on all of our parts. That’s the only way it works. When we speak together, we’re so much stronger and so much more effective, so share that vision with me.”

May reminded the group of some of the work ATMI has been doing over the past few months in helping the government identify the industry’s problems and work to correct them. He credited the institute’s “Crisis in U.S. Textiles” report last year, which he said makes the case that the Asian financial crisis and subsequent currency imbalances led to the industry’s downward spiral.

He also cited ATMI’s public awareness media campaign, its close work with the Congressional Textile Caucus and additional lobbying help that gave ATMI better access to the White House.

“I know many of you have heard the saying ‘if you see a turtle on a fence post, you know it didn’t get there by itself,” May said. “It’s not a bad description of what’s come out of Washington the last few months and by that I mean that the increased visibility that our industry has had at the very highest levels of our government is not an accident.

“If you think that we’re just lucky to get our issues before the administration and before the Congress, you’re right; we’re lucky. But I want you to consider my favorite definition of luck: ‘luck is where preparation meets opportunity.’ ”

He added that the visibility the industry has right now is as high as it’s ever been during his career.

“When you’ve got the president of the United States himself meeting with textile state representatives and focused on textiles two or three times so far, you would have to agree that we have achieved some decent visibility and we’ve done a good job of promoting our visibility at the highest level this past year.”

May said he was “madder than hell” when trade promotion authority, which became part of the Trade Act of 2002, passed the House last December. But the promises that were made to the industry by the Commerce Department and the administration helped make it an easier pill to swallow, he added.

“Whether or not we opposed it, all the groundwork that we laid did at least help some of our representatives get something out of the vote,” May said. “Even though I didn’t necessarily agree with the vote, at least we had the ground prepared so that we could get something when the opportunity presented itself.”

One of ATMI’s top orders of business remains to make sure those commitments are followed up on, May said. Trade-related issues remain the toughest facing the industry, he said, adding that ATMI will continue to get its message across as those matters arise.

“My biggest challenge this year has been to keep the trade debate properly framed, to tell our story in a way that’s understandable and makes sense.” he said. “I’m not sure we’ve done a good job of that in the past because we come off as being labeled protectionist.”

But nothing will be accomplished through dissension, he concluded.

“If we can identify the problems, which I think we’ve done in getting commitments of help from our friends in Washington, and through the help of industry leaders like you, I think we can develop a model for success and regain some of our prosperity — not only in U.S. textiles, but also in U.S. cotton and my pledge is to continue to work hard for you toward that end.

COTTON

Week of October 7, 2002

Collaboration links Cotton Incorporated, WGSN

NEW YORK — Cotton Incorporated and Worth Global Style Network (WGSN) are joining forces to bring research material from Cotton Incorporated to a wider international market.

Founded in 1998, Worth Global Style Network (wgsn.com) has rapidly built an international reputation as the world’s leading on-line news, research and trend analysis service for the fashion and style industries.

Some of WGSN’s subscribers include: Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren, Levi Strauss, Sara Lee, Pottery Barn, Banana Republic, Abercrombie & Fitch, Federated Department Stores, Marks & Spencer, Arcadia, LVMH, Revlon, Daimler Chrysler, Nokia, Motorola and many others.

“Our objective is to reach the people responsible for making cotton products wherever in the world they may be and to provide them with insights, innovations and relevant fashion information that can help them with issues of demand, quality and profitability,” said Ira Livingston, senior vice president, consumer marketing at Cotton Incorporated. “WGSN has proven a critical resource for reaching global textile decision-makers, and we are excited to be working together with them.”

As part of the wide-ranging collaboration, key Cotton Incorporated research will be published on-line on the subscription-only WGSN s ervice.

WGSN customers worldwide will have full access to in-depth research material from Cotton Incorporated, including its ongoing Lifestyle Monitor research program.

The Lifestyle Monitor survey utilizes a carefully constructed series of 125 questions that tap into the attitudes and behavior of American consumers regarding clothing, appearance, fashion, home furnishings, soft goods shopping, fiber selection and many other topics. Initiated in 1994, the survey conducts over 3,600 25-minute phone interviews each year.

“We saw an opening in the marketplace for an ongoing behavioral research study that could help textile executives and retailers better understand why we buy what we buy and why we wear what we wear,” said Ric Hendee, vice president of marketing services at Cotton Incorporated. “The Lifestyle Monitor has proven to be an accurate and insightful indicator of what American consumers are thinking about the importance of textile products in their lives, and which actions they are likely to take the next time they go shopping.”

Marc Worth, co-managing director of Worth Global Style Network, added, “The depth and quality of Cotton Incorporated’s research is rightly renowned and we are delighted to add this excellent research to our service.”

CCI connects Asian, U.S. textile makers

WASHINGTON, DC — In an effort to boost sales of U.S. cotton yarn and fabric, Cotton Council International (CCI) recently brought Asian apparel manufacturers to the U.S. to interact with some leading U.S. textile manufacturers.

This CCI COTTON USA tour is part of the 2002 Sourcing Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) Program, which is funded by USDA’s Section 108 Program, Cotton Incorporated and participating U.S. textile mills. The tour’s purpose is to encourage the Asian manufacturers to use more U.S.-made cotton yarns and fabrics in factories they operate in Caribbean Basin countries.

The visiting delegation is comprised of 14 companies located in Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, El Salvador and Guatemala. As part of the tour, which took place Sept. 29-Oct. 4, the apparel makers participate in a series of meetings with U.S. mills in Pinehurst, NC, including a private trade fair.

They also toured U.S. cotton harvesting and ginning facilities and the U.S. mill participants’ manufacturing facilities. Their visit concluded with a tour of Cotton Inc.’s Cary, NC, research facility.

Participating U.S. mills are AMTEC/Tuscarora, Ameritex, Buhler Quality Yarns, Four Leaf Textiles, Frontier Spinning Mills, Harriet & Henderson Yarns, National Textiles, Parkdale Mills, Ramtex, Spectrum Dyed Yarns, TNS Mills and Swift Spinning Mills.

“This trip is important to increasing the amount of U.S. cotton yarn and fabric exported to the Caribbean Basin region,” said Vaughn Jordan, CCI’s International Program Director and Director, CBI & Mexico. “Because the Asian companies own a large share of the garment-manufacturing industries in the region, it is important they understand the advantages of using U.S.-manufactured cotton yarns and fabrics combined with the Caribbean Basin legislation.”

NCC’s Hood pooh-poohs Brazil

MEMPHIS — National Cotton Council (NCC) Chairman Kenneth Hood said last week that it is unfortunate Brazil’s government decided to initiate consultations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) with the U.S. regarding U.S. cotton programs.

“The United States is complying fully with the Uruguay Round Agricultural Agreement,” Hood said in a release. “In addition, support levels for cotton under the new farm bill are actually lower than they were under legislation on the books when the Uruguay Round agreement was concluded.”

Hood noted that: 1) target prices under the most recently passed farm bill are slightly lower than those in place in the early to mid-1990s; and 2) a significant portion of the new program involves so-called “green box” expenditures, which don’t count toward multilateral ceilings on farm programs.

“Further, the new farm law has provisions requiring the Secretary of Agriculture to make adjustments in farm programs should the Secretary determine that U.S. expenditures will exceed the Uruguay agreement’s established ceilings,” he said.

Briefs

Week of October 7, 2002

Weavetex, Inc. selects MAPICS ERP solution

ATLANTA — MAPICS, Inc., a global provider of collaborative, extended enterprise applications for manufacturers, announced that Weavetex, Inc., a manufacturer of industrial fabrics, has selected the MAPICS enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution to tie its entire operation together and establish streamlined processes, enabling it to run smoothly as it reenters the market, according to MAPICS.

Formerly the industrial fabrics division of Spartan International, newly established Weavetex, based in Jonesville, SC, serves customers in the commercial wallcovering, paint filter and upholstery markets. The company said it expects to regain a number of the customers it worked with when it was one of the most profitable divisions of Spartan International, which closed in 2001.

Weavetex said it selected the MAPICS solution to provide the company with what it needed to reinvent itself successfully.

“We were impressed by the wealth of functionality that MAPICS offers right out of the box,” said David Schmidt, vice president of Weavetex. “The solution’s flexibility will enable us to perform all the functions of our most critical operations, including sales, manufacturing and financials.”

There were several other factors in Weavetex’s selection of the MAPICS solution, the company said. One of the main driving forces was its dedication to getting fabrics to its customers quickly and accurately, according to Gary Lane, also vice president of Weavetex. In addition, it sought a solution that was easy to maintain and operate without requiring the purchase of a new server, he said.

INDA members form task force

CARY, NC — A group of INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry members met here recently to discuss flammability standards for upholstered furniture and bedding that are being separately developed by regulatory officials in the U.S. government and the state of California.

During the meeting, it was agreed that a new INDA task force is needed to ensure that the interests of the nonwovens industry are represented as both sets of standards are being addressed.

A key goal for the task force is to educate officials in California and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regarding the advantages and benefits of using fire-resistant nonwovens as “barrier materials” in the construction of upholstered furniture and bedding.

Many task force members further agreed to participate in a meeting with the California Bureau of Home Furnishings in Sacramento. INDA staff provided an overview of nonwoven technologies during this meeting, and task force members described the FR properties of the products they offer.

FIT receives high marks from magazine

NEW YORK CITY — The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) earned high rankings from U.S. News and World Report in its 2003 edition of America’s Best Colleges.

For the second year in a row, FIT is the No. 1 Public Comprehensive College in the North.

“This ranking by such a prominent national publication is a real indication of the quality of education offered by FIT,” said college President Dr. Joyce F. Brown.

This year, an FIT student was named a Fulbright Scholar, the first in the college’s history and, in addition, the college received its first NEA grant to sponsor a national design competition for campus building expansion and renovation.

In other U.S. News rankings, FIT was also high on the lists. Comparing public and private institutions, FIT ranked eighth in Best Comprehensive Colleges in the North. The college was listed in the top 10 for highest graduation rate, greatest diversity of student body, largest population of international students, and graduates leaving college with the least amount of debt.

Fiscal notes

Week of October 7, 2002

Wellman updates earnings outlook

SHREWSBURY, NJ — Wellman, Inc. announced that its earnings for the third and fourth quarters are expected to be below current First Call analyst estimates of 31 cents and 29 cents per diluted share, respectively.

In addition, the company said it expects earnings to be lower than the 18 cents per diluted share reported in the first quarter of last year.

The usual summer holiday closings and higher raw material costs in the third quarter will result in lower earnings for Wellman’s fibers business compared to the second quarter, the company said. However, PET resins earnings for the third quarter were less than expected because of decreased margins resulting from higher raw material costs and continued selling price pressure, Wellman added.

“We are disappointed that selling price pressure persists despite high capacity utilization in the domestic PET resins industry,” said Tom Duff, chairman and CEO. “Continued high-industry capacity utilization should lead to improved margins in future years.”

Mohawk Industries boosts guidance

CALHOUN, GA — Mohawk Industries boosted its guidance for the third and fourth quarters.

The floor coverings maker said it expects third-quarter earnings to increase by 12 percent to 15 percent from the prior year, the result of cost controls and lower interest expenses. Earnings were $1.05 a share during the same period last year.

Mohawk also said it anticipates that earnings in the fourth quarter will be 5 percent to 10 percent above the $1.11 a share it posted for the comparable quarter of 2001.

The company also said it expects sales growth to be slower than last quarter due to economic conditions, but above last year’s 3.5 percent on a pro forma basis.

Burlington receives extension for filing

GREENSBORO, NC — Burlington Industries, which is operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, has gained an extension of four months for its exclusive period it can file a reorganization plan.

With the extension, Burlington will remain the only party allowed to propose a Chapter 11 plan in its case through Jan. 31, 2003. The deadline had been Nov. 15.

Guilford Mills still preparing emergence

GREENSBORO, NC — As previously announced, following the satisfaction of various conditions, Guilford Mills, Inc. said it will emerge from bankruptcy on the effective date of its plan of reorganization.

The warp-knitting company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year, and its senior lenders are in the process of finalizing loan and other documentation. The company said it expects to announced the effective date in the next few days.

Editorial

Week of October 7, 2002

To be or not to be ...

THE MOTTO of textile-manufacturing hotbed North Carolina is “Esse Quam Videri,” Latin for “to be rather than to seem.” With those sage words in mind, the textile industry certainly may be as visible at the top levels of government now than at any time in recent history — or so it seems.

Van May, president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), made that point during his recent presentation to the American Yarn Spinners Association (AYSA). Various officials within the administration, along with President Bush himself, have taken a keen interest in the troubles of the domestic textile industry and are working to improve conditions that led to those woes, May said.

And we agree. The industry has received a lot of attention in recent months, starting with the U.S. House vote on trade promotion authority (TPA) in December. Various White House representatives, including Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans, have shaken a lot of hands and reiterated their support of the industry during several trips through “textile country,” primarily the Carolinas. Also, President Bush has discussed concerns of Congressional Textile Caucus members on more than one occasion.

These actions, of course, stem from promises made by Evans and House leaders to textile-state representatives in exchange for their votes on TPA.

It’s our job to be cynical — and we do a fine job of that — but perhaps ... perhaps ... the government is making some headway in helping to alleviate some of the industry’s plagues.

NOW, BEFORE YOU put us in P.T. Barnum’s “sucker” category, at least take this with the same grain of salt you give promises by government officials. We definitely don’t think these actions mean you should suddenly start using the words “trust” and “government” in the same sentence, but consider them a good start in helping to rebuild some of the faith lost in lawmakers by the industry. OK, try to consider them a good start. And file this opinion under “F” for “For-what-it’s-worth.”

Being the skeptical sort, we thought maybe those promises would be quickly forgotten after TPA, bundled with other trade legislation this summer, passed the Congress and became law. But, lo and behold, along comes a 22-page report issued by the Textile Working Group to the Textile Caucus. The report outlines measures that are being taken to improve conditions for the U.S. textile industry. The Textile Working Group, as you know, is an interagency body introduced by Evans in January when he outlined steps the administration would take to ensure that textile and apparel industry concerns were addressed.

Though nothing measurable has emerged from the group yet, this report and subsequent press briefing by James C. Leonard III, deputy assistant secretary of Commerce for textiles, apparel and consumer goods industries, represents positive exposure for the industry, if nothing else. A Tar Heel State native, Leonard would likely prefer to be rather than to seem.

We encourage you to read the full report (www.commerce.gov) to ascertain the complexity and high aspirations of this administration.

THE NEXT BIG hurdle, perhaps, for this increased attention bestowed the industry is the November mid-term elections. Will it wane after those races are decided? Will the Textile Working Group suddenly become the Textile Loafing Group? Will the administration leave this industry at the altar? Stay tuned.

Certainly, this industry remains divided on many issues, government promises notwithstanding. And though we have yet to achieve harmony among every faction of this manufacturing sector, we are carrying on a serious courtship with visibility. Visibility is working for now, if unity isn’t.

Seems to be, anyway.

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