Show sponsors share vision

Week of Dec. 3, 2001

ATME-I planners come together to tout changes

By Ron Copsey


Butler Mullins (above), president and CEO of Textile Hall Corp., tells ATMA members that ATME-I in 2004 will be a good transition for the future of the show.

GREENVILLE, SC — The American Textile Machinery Exhibition-International (ATME-I) trade shows, held here since 1969, will take on a consolidated look when next held in 2004 at the Palmetto Expo Center here.

After that, in 2006, the event will leave Greenville for the World Congress Center in Atlanta.

The show’s future was the subject of the Region 3 meeting of the American Textile Machinery Association (ATMA) held here recently. Top officials from both ATMA and the Textile Hall Corporation (THC), co-sponsors of past shows, attended.

The shows will continue to be sponsored by the ATMA and THC. The two-part show concept — one for yarn preparation, nonwovens manufacturing and plant engineering and one for weaving, knitting, dyeing, printing and finishing will be no more. The split shows have take place since 1976 and conducted about six months apart, every four years, with the most recent show, weaving/knitting forward, held last April.

According to Kurt Scholler, ATMA chairman, who is chief executive officer (CEO) of American Truetzschler, ATME-I is in a transitional phase. “We have a vision to make ATME-I a show for the Western Hemisphere, a ‘show of the Americas,’ if you will, one that is held every four years, first in Atlanta then possibly four years later in Brazil,” he said.

ATME-I is the largest show of its kind in the Americas.

“For the 2006 show, we are working to make it larger and different in scope by creating some new alliances within the industry,” Scholler said. “For example, we have met with the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) about being a part of ATME-I; however, nothing formal has been established with them yet.”

The IFAI recently conducted its annual Expo in Nashville, TN, which attracted 5,800 attendees from 45 countries for the more than 440 exhibitors.

Dick Heusel, chairman of THC, said that for the consolidated show in 2004 to be successful, attendance must be increased over the disappointing 2000-2001 split show numbers. ATME-I 2000 drew 9,763 visitors and ATME-I 2001 attracted 11,274. Unlike other shows, notably ITMA in Europe, visitors at ATME-I are counted only one time, regardless of the number of days they attend.

“Booth spaces will probably be smaller in 2004 in order to accommodate the combined show at Palmetto Expo Center, but the consolidation will reflect a unity within the textile industry that is needed,” Heusel said.

Butler Mullins, president and CEO of THC, said that the show in 2004 will be a good transition for the future of ATME-I. “We may develop some incentives for exhibitors to be in both the 2004 and 2006 shows, thereby helping the 2006 show get off to a solid start.”

Clay Tyeryar, ATMA executive vice president, said that one of the objectives of the show in 2006 and beyond is to broaden the base for everyone — from the cotton growers and other fiber sources to the needs of the various textile and textile machinery manufacturers in the Western Hemisphere that are adapting to new marketing opportunities with product innovations.

“It is very important to maintain pace with the rapidly shifting profile of global exhibitors,” he said.

Greenville’s Palmetto Expo Center was bought in July by the City of Greenville for $6.8 million. The purchase became necessary after the Expo Center defaulted on a $9.5 million bank note.

“The future of the Palmetto Expo Center after 2004 is uncertain. The city will most likely look at the possibility of building a new convention center,” Mullins said.

The Palmetto Expo Center is the largest convention center in South Carolina and the fifth largest in the Southeast.

In a separate interview, Mullins explained how THC and Palmetto Expo Center operate — and how they will operate under new management.

“THC is the parent company and Palmetto Expo Center, Inc. has been a wholly-owned subsidiary,” he said. “THC has been responsible for producing ATME-I and also two or three other shows, such as the boat show and the fiber producer exhibition.

“Now that the City has purchased the facility and has chosen Global Spectrum, Inc. as the management company to take over the operations of Palmetto Expo Center, at the time the management company actually takes over operations of the building, Palmetto Expo Center, Inc. will have no further responsibilities and, therefore, will be dissolved as an entity.”

He said he anticipates that this could happen by the first of next year.

Coated, laminated goods hold their own

Week of Dec. 3, 2001

ATME-I planners come together to tout changes

By Alfred Dockery

ATLANTA — The 11th International Conference on Textile Coating and Laminating (TCL11) here recently covered a wide range of topics, from the business of coating and laminating to processes and techniques to hot melt technologies to specialized applications to converting.

The conference alternates between Europe and the United States. Last year it took place in Lyon, France. In this edition, the conference moved its U.S. base from Charlotte to Atlanta. Next year it is scheduled for Milan, Italy.

This year’s conference reflected the current state of the industry. Attendance was down somewhat from normal and some of the European speakers arranged to have colleagues in this country present their papers rather than flying over to give the presentations themselves.

Bill Smith, conference director and president of Industrial Textile Associates, Greer, SC, put the current economic and political uncertainty in perspective for attendees.

“I’ve been in this business for 40 years, and I’ve been a consultant for the last 15 years,” Smith said. “I’ve seen the industry go down and come up. It always comes back up, at least on the industrial side. You need to be ready for when it comes back.”

Following are highlights of he two-day conference.

Will growth continue?

Stephen Metzger, principal of International Competitive Associates, Cortland, NY, shared his observations about coating and laminating industry trends and outlook.

He found that coated and laminated fabrics have shown steady growth from 1993 to 2000. Sales have increased from $2 billion in 1993 to $2.5 billion estimated for 2000. During this period product mix also shifted toward higher-end products as imports of commodity grade fabrics increased.

Coated and laminated products have also shown a strong favorable trade balance for both non-rubber and rubber-coated market segments. In 1993 imports of non-rubber coated and laminated products were $142.3 million, growing to $278.3 million in 2000. By comparison, in 1993 exports of non-rubber coated and laminated products were $187.6 million, growing to $444.7 million for 2000.

“This shows that we can hold our own against imports,” Metzger said.

Given economic trends and the uncertainty caused by the war on terrorism, Metzger projected negative growth for the industry over next year. However, he is bullish about this market segment in the long term.

“I am optimistic that American grit will preclude a free-fall of negative growth quarters and that the economy will stabilize, both with regard to overall consumer spending and private investment,” Metzger said. “I believe that we will begin to see low positive gains by the fourth quarter of next year and beyond.”

New coating machinery

Robert Poterala, president, Mascoe Systems, Mauldin, SC, discussed the evolution of his company as a specialized coating machinery supplier and commission finisher. In August 2000, the company elected to enter the coated fabric production field.

Mascoe began commission finishing operations for three reasons: 1) there weren’t enough commission finishers available; 2) it would allow them to do production trials for potential customers wanting to evaluate Mascoe’s coating equipment; and 3) the company wanted to prove the practicality of its new electric dryers.

Poterala told attendees that his company’s entire plant is run by three people, and that its coating range offers dramatic energy savings. Over the past year, the plant’s power bill has been about $1,500 per month.

The company designed its coating range to be compact. One major goal was to eliminate as many rolls as possible to minimize cleanup between production runs. In addition, the range’s electric dryers do not require cleaning.

“To beat the economic crunch you are going to have to run faster and run shorter lots,” Poterala said.

Mascoe has made more than 50 improvements to its coating range so far and has at least 100 more planned.

Leading change essential
today, ISIFM members hear

Week of Dec. 3, 2001

'Leading in a time of change'


KoSa’s Dan Haycook offers insight on leadership.

By Devin Steele

CHARLOTTE, NC — It is no longer adequate to manage change. In order to succeed in today’s marketplace, leading change is required.

So said Dan Haycook, KoSa’s global business leader for Tire Cord, during the International Society of Industrial Fabric Manufacturers’ (ISIFM) semi-annual meeting here last month. More than 100 members of the group heard speakers during the two-day event.

Speaking on the topic “Leading in a Time of Change,” Haycook said that leaders today must be forced to make hard decisions and be unwilling to accept marginal results. One way to reject mediocrity is by exploiting your organization’s strengths instead of focusing so much on its weaknesses, he added.

Another significant leadership skill that must be honed is foreseeing and having your company prepared for the unexpected, Haycook said. The rise in the importance of strategic planning and scenario analysis — clear strategy based on realistic assumptions — is a must, he noted.

“One critical element of this is utilizing diversity and, by that, I mean divergent thinking,” he said. “The only way to develop new scenarios, new planning, new attacks, new opportunity development, is to have people that think differently than yourself. And while that’s somewhat challenging or hard to manage sometimes, without it you will not find an approach that is significantly different than today.”

Leaders today also should resist their natural response to change or crisis, which is retrenchment, Haycook pointed out.

“If we’re going to survive in the businesses that we’re in, we have to be resilient, and that is have the ability to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances,” he said. “We have to adopt that mind set instead of just battening down the hatches and waiting for something to happen.”

Nation’s oldest working mill saved

Week of Dec. 3, 2001

Riverpoint Lace Co. saved by private investor

WEST WARWICK, RI — Officials and employees of America’s oldest continuously operating textile mill had a lot to be grateful for on Thanksgiving Day.

That holiday, an unnamed private investor saved 192-year-old Riverpoint Lace Co. from bank foreclosure with a $280,000 loan. A mortgagee’s auction had been scheduled for last Tuesday.

“I wouldn’t want to lose this place,” second-generation owner John Hayes Jr., told The Associated Press. “It’s been my life. It’s almost like part of the family.”

The company has been housed in the historic Lippett Mill since 1923. The oldest sections of the mill are nearly 200 years old.

Riverpoint has been on a roller coaster ride since 1996, when its biggest customer went bankrupt, third-generation owner John Hayes III said. After enduring layoffs and utility shutoffs, the company rallied in July of last year with increased orders from several customers.

By February, though, Riverpoint was unable to pay its mortgage and the Hayes family was scrambling to refinance or find someone to step forward, which finally happened.

News in brief

Week of Dec. 3, 2001

CMI files voluntary Chapter 11 plan

COLUMBIA, SC — CMI Industries, Inc. and its subsidiaries have filed a voluntary Chapter 11 plan as it implements a restructuring agreement with its largest creditors.

Under the plan, filed together with the company’s voluntary petitions for relief, the company’s unsecured creditors will receive substantially all of the proceeds from the liquidation of CMI’s non-operating assets, $38.375 million in new promissory notes and an indirect 100 percent ownership interest in the company’s Elastic Fabrics of America LLC subsidiary, CMI said in an announcement.

If an acceptable proposal for the purchase of the Elastic Fabrics business is received during the pendency of the Chapter 11 cases, creditors will receive the proceeds from the sale of the unit in lieu of the new notes and equity, the firm said.

All Elastics’ operations will continue as usual without interruption during the pendency of the Chapter 11 cases, CMI said. The company has obtained a new debtor-in-possession credit facility of $10 million to ensure that all of Elastics’ working capital requirements are satisfied.

“The filing of our Chapter 11 plan marks the successful culmination of the company’s nine-month effort to restructure its finances,” said Joseph L. Gorga, company president. “The lengthy process has produced a winning result for all concerned. The heart of our strategy has always been to maximize value by insulating the Elastics’ business from any potential adverse effects arising from the reorganization process.”

In September, CMI said it has reached an agreement with its debt holders to keep its profitable Elastic Fabrics subsidiary open, but would liquidate its remaining assets.

“Elastics’ operations have continued to be profitable throughout the process and have shown healthy signs of growth in recent months,” Gorga said.

CMI manufactures textile products that serve a variety of markets, including the intimate apparel, sportswear and industrial/medical markets.

Crystal Textile to expand services

NEW YORK — Crystal Textile Group, formerly “The Tricot Man,” said it has expanded the menu of research and development services available at its Warp Knit Mills plant in North Carolina.

A group of textile, industrial and chemical engineers is now on hand at the Lincolnton, NC, facility to develop and present to customers prototypes of desired products, usually with a 24-hour turnaround, according to the company. Complementing their services is assistance from Crystal’s complete sample department.

Additionally, a team of professionals is available to assist customers with cutting- and sewing-room problems and projects, as well as to help them achieve and maintain a smooth, on-time manufacturing cycle, Crystal said.

“We pride ourselves on service, creativity, quick delivery and unlimited resources,” said Richard Crystal, CEO. “We strongly encourage our customers to take advantage of all of our offerings.”

Located in the heart of the fashion textile industry here, Crystal Textile Group is a vertically integrated knit and fabric company. The family-owned business was founded in 1973.

Crystal, which also operates a dyeing and finishing division in Hickory, NC, services a broad range of fashion and high-tech fabrics trades and provides full research and development capabilities. The firm also develops fabrics for medical, high-tech and other industrial applications.

Mohawk to buy Dal-Tile

CALHOUN, GA — Carpet maker Mohawk Industries, Inc. has reached an agreement to acquire Dal-Tile International, Inc.

Under terms of the deal, Dal-Tile stockholders will receive about 50 percent in cash and 50 percent in stock, comprised of $11 in cash and .2414 shares of Mohawk common stock for each outstanding share of Dal-Tile common stock.

Based in Dallas, Dal-Tile is the largest manufacturer, distributor and marketer of ceramic tile in the U.S., with about $1 billion of annual sales. The company has about 8,000 employees at its North America facilities.

The merger, which was unanimously approved by the boards of both companies, is subject to stockholder approval and standard regulatory approvals and conditions.

Milliken’s Malone wins quality award

COLUMBIA, SC — The South Carolina Quality Forum recently presented Dr. Thomas J. Malone, president and chief operating officer of Milliken & Company, with the Milliken Medal of Quality Award.

SC Gov. Jim Hodges made the presentation. The award is given every year by the Quality Forum to recognize South Carolinians of vision, who have demonstrated leadership, innovation and achievement in the implementation of quality systems in their organizations.

Roger Milliken, chairman and CEO of Milliken & Company, in whose honor the original award was established four years ago said, “Tom Malone’s leadership has been the single most important ingredient in the success of Milliken’s Quality Process. The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, won by our company in 1989, was a direct result of his personal leadership and involvement.”

Dr. Malone received his Ph.D in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech in 1966 and immediately was hired by Milliken & Company to start its “Fundamental Engineering Department.” Seventeen years later, he was named president and chief operating officer.

“It is an honor to be recognized. We in Milliken have been blessed to have the leader of all leaders of quality,” said Malone, referring to Roger Milliken. “We have been equally blessed to have the people who are the heroes of our accomplishments and recognition around the world.”

A member of the Chief Executives’ Organization and the Presidents’ Circle, Malone also serves on the Advisory Committee for the Directorate of Engineering of the National Science Foundation, the Council on competitiveness.

Pickin' cotton

Week of Dec. 3, 2001

China WTO entry to spell U.S. export opportunities?

With huge crops, export subsidies and a restricted market for foreign growths, China has been a major factor in the world of cotton production and trade. It will continue to command attention. With China moving to meet requirements for entry into the World Trade Organization, the U.S. can look forward to more open markets for its cotton and increased exports to China.

China bought substantial amounts of foreign cotton in the 1990s. As recently as 1997-98, it imported 402,000 tonnes, or 1.8 million 480-pound bales, according to data from the International Cotton Advisory Committee in Washington. But in the last few years of the decade China’s imports dwindled, as it faced huge stocks from bumper cotton crops.

Still, foreign cotton was attractive to buyers, analysts have noted. The difference between Chinese domestic cotton prices and world prices is large. In its International Agricultural Trade Report dated Nov. 9, USDA noted that “recent prices of standard grade cotton on China’s local market were 21 percent to 29 percent above the (Cotlook) A Index,” an average of the world’s cheapest prices. “Per pound prices range from 44 to 47 cents, while comparable U.S. cotton would probably cost around 42 cents a pound plus a 3 percent in-quota tariff.”

U.S. growths made up about half of China’s 230,000 480-pound bales of imports in 2000-01, USDA said. China remains a customer of U.S. cotton. U.S. export activity in November included small shipments to China, with 2,900 running bales shipped for the week ended Nov. 15.

With China’s WTO entry, overall imports could jump dramatically. “Under the WTO, China has agreed to an initial tariff rate quota of 3.4 million bales in the first year — probably starting Jan. 1,” USDA said in its report. “That’s 17 times larger than China’s imports in recent years and almost 15 percent of China’s current annual consumption.”

U.S. exports to other Asian nations also may be aided by China’s elimination of its export subsidies in preparation for WTO entry. China exported 446,000 bales of cotton in 2000-01, with most going to Korea and Indonesia. USDA predicted that elimination of Chinese export subsidies will allow the U.S. to increase its market share of cotton imports by Korea, Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries.

Yet there are reasons to be cautious about higher export prospects and increased Chinese imports. A huge Chinese crop this marketing year and continuing large stocks are likely to keep China’s imports small. “Most factors point to a level of Chinese carryover capable of providing 2 million bales or so to domestic mill use, added area in production and no foreshadowing of import licenses,” said the Memphis, TN-based National Cotton Council in its November Economic Outlook. “Estimates of Chinese imports for 2001 stood at 2.5 to 3 million bales just eight months ago. China’s eventual net imports are not likely to reach those earlier forecasts.”

As of Nov. 20, ICAC pegged Chinese imports at 150,000 tonnes, or 689,000 bales, higher than in previous years, but well below the 402,000 tonnes, or 1.8 million bales, imported in 1997. USDA’s November import estimate is lower at 300,000 bales. Meanwhile, after falling slightly from 1997 through 1999, Chinese cotton production has risen again. ICAC projected a 2001-02 crop of 4.95 million tonnes, or 22.7 million bales, up from 3.83 million tonnes, or 17.6 million bales two years ago. In November, USDA’s crop forecast was 23.5 million bales.

Price also may limit imports. China has tried to protect its cotton industry by keeping prices high. But with WTO accession and relaxed import restrictions, prices may fall, narrowing the difference between domestic prices and cheaper world prices and making U.S. and foreign growths less competitive.

State selling of cotton from China’s “national reserves” also could make China a major force in exports again. While laws prevent the state-owned Cotton and Jute Corporation from selling cotton at a loss, the government can sell national reserves from prior years and absorb the loss.

“As long as these subsidized sales are not restricted to exports, they are not considered export subsidies,” USDA noted. “Worried about farmer unrest, the government will probably not cut procurement prices quickly, but take large amounts of domestic cotton into the national reserves.”

That jump in stocks could make China a net exporter.

Editorial

Week of Dec. 3, 2001

Stink, stank, stunk

THIS YULETIDE season, the Grinch has practically moved into many communities built up around smokestacks. And he is determined to stop the holidays from coming in those regions that for years have thrived on textile and apparel manufacturing. But many of those areas devastated by massive layoffs are trying to find ways to expunge that Grinchy stench.

In North Carolina, leaders of a dozen or more hard-hit towns are considering hiring a Washington lobbyist to help them recover economically from lost manufacturing. If hired, the Ferguson Group would be charged with seeking federal funds to boost the battered communities. Among towns interested in forming the coalition: Belmont, Bessemer City, Cherryville and Mount Holly in Gaston County; Kings Mountain and Shelby in Cleveland County; and Morganton, Valdese and Wilkesboro in Burke County. And, if they haven’t been contacted already, Greensboro and Eden should also be considered for inclusion.

In Virginia, Gov.-elect Mark Warner is aiming to install an economic crisis strike force in Henry County to remove the slime left as the Grinch slithered and slunk his way down from Mount Crumpit. Warner plans to introduce legislation that would help local officials deal with 2,300 layoffs that will come when VF Corporation, the region’s biggest employer, leaves. Subsidiary VF Imagewear (East), which makes knit clothing, announced just before Thanksgiving that the company is moving some operations overseas and would eliminate about 13,000 jobs corporate-wide. Warner said he would like to help social services agencies prepare for the layoffs and allocate money to help people pay their bills.

IN THOMASTON, GA, meanwhile, former employees of Thomaston Mills have done their part to shoo Mr. Grinch — or at least learn to live with him — without calling for government measures. More than 1,000 people recently showed up for a reunion of ex-employees of Thomaston (1899-2001), many of whom did not get the chance to say their good-byes when the company announced last summer that it was being forced to close its doors. A reporter likened the event, marked by tears and recollections, to a funeral. “We felt the people of Thomaston Mills needed to bury Thomaston Mills,” Joyce Allen, one of the organizers of the reunion who lost her 28-year payroll department job, told the local paper.

Besides that event, though, the spirit of this veritable Who-ville has really come out during these woebegone times: Pharmacists pooled money for a fund to buy prescriptions for those who couldn’t afford them; a church opened a food bank to help families; and a special store operated by the Empty Stocking Fund said it will supply low-cost toys and children’s items for the holidays.

We’re delighted to see so many hearts that aren’t two sizes too small.

WE ONLY HOPE that those who opened the gates for the callous green monster will see the hurt and despair he has wrought. Perhaps those government officials, retailers and others who have continued to drive manufacturing out of this country should be forced to tour some of these decimated communities.

And for every Grinch they see there, they’ll find 10,000 Cindy-Lous.

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