TPA passes house

Week of Dec. 17, 2001

Textile-district lawmakers help seal deal

By Devin Steele

Key TPA votes

How Congressmen in key textile-producing states voted on the trade promotion authority bill on Dec. 6:

Alabama

Yes
Bachus (R), Callahan (R), Everett (R), Riley (R)

No
Aderholt (R), Cramer (D), Hilliard (D)

Georgia

Yes
Barr (R), Chambliss (R), Collins (R), Deal (R), Isakson (R), Kingston (R), Linder (R)

No
Bishop (D), Lewis (D), Norwood (R), McKinney (D)

Massachusetts

Yes
None

No
Capuano (D), Delahunt (D), Frank (D), Lynch, (D) McGovern (D), Markey (D), Meehan (D), Neal (D), Olver (D), Tierney (D)

North Carolina

Yes
Ballenger (R), Burr (R), Etheridge (D), Hayes (R), Myrick (R)

No
Clayton (D), Coble (R), Jones (R), McIntyre (D), Price (D), Taylor (R), Watt (D)

South Carolina

Yes
Brown (R), DeMint (R)

No
Clyburn (D), Graham (R), Spratt (D)

Virginia

Yes
Cantor (R), J.A. Davis (R), T. Davis (R), Forbes (R), Goodlatte (R), Moran (D), Schrock (R), Wolf (R)

No
Boucher (D), Goode (I), Scott (D)

WASHINGTON, DC — Trade promotion authority (TPA) legislation, which could help shape what’s left of the domestic textile landscape, has reached the Senate.

The bill to grant the president trade negotiating power was approved by the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday, 18-3, less than a week after the measure won by the thinnest of margins in the House, 215-214. The legislation is expected to be passed by the Senate, probably early next year. The Senate bill is similar to the House version.

Trade promotion authority, also called fast track, allows the president to negotiate trade deals, with the Senate and House allowed only up or down votes on the agreements. Until 1994, every president since Ford had this authority.

The beleaguered textile industry took center stage in the legislation’s passage in the House. Last-minute arm-twisting of lawmakers representing textile-heavy districts helped secure the major victory for the Bush administration.

With the measure falling four votes short during a 15-minute overtime, GOP leadership was able to convince five House members from textile- or cotton-producing districts to give a thumbs-up to the legislation by making a number of concessions aimed at protecting their interests.

South Carolina Rep. Jim DeMint, who had opposed the measure, cast the deciding vote after he received a letter from Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) and Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX). In the letter, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans said the administration would use “whatever means necessary” to help textile manufacturers.

One of those other Republicans, hosiery mill owner Robin Hayes of North Carolina, shed a tear after casting one of the deciding votes. An hour before the vote, Hayes had told three textile union representatives he would vote against the bill. Among those union members was Shirley Chapman, a laid-off Pillowtex Corp. employee from Hayes’ district.

“It was just such an emotional roller coaster,” Hayes told USA Today of his reaction to his vote. “To be struggling and fighting for your people all these months ... the pressure of making sure you’re casting the right vote for your folks. This was not a political deal situation.”

The other representatives who were swayed: Cass Ballenger of North Carolina, Dana Rohrabacher of California and Cliff Stearns of Florida.

A concession critical to the Textile Caucus was a dyeing and finishing dispute borne out of last year’s Caribbean Basin Trade Preference Act (CBTPA). Under the legislation, “CBI” countries could avoid U.S. quotas and tariffs on textiles and apparel if they are assembled from U.S.-made fabric.

But where the cloth was dyed and finished was unclear under the law, so the Customs Service ruled that the Caribbean countries could do their own dyeing and finishing. The caucus, however, said that ruling would cost the industry many more jobs.

In the letter sent to DeMint and shared with other holdouts, the administration committed to changing the rule so that that work would stay in the U.S. under the CBI legislation, as well as the pending Andean pact. Evans, in the letter, also said the administration “will insist that new trade deals afford U.S. companies significant access to foreign markets in order to level the playing field for our firms.”

The dyeing and finishing concession so angered Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA), author of the TPA bill, that he threatened to vote down his own bill, but later relented.

The letter from Evans sealed DeMint’s decision, he said.

“I had the letter with me on the floor,” he said after the vote. “Chairman Thomas had said he would not agree to this. But the leaders of the House said they would. They signed it. I changed my vote. I went and got a few other textile folks who were going the other way and got them to vote for it. We passed it.”

One Textile Caucus member who did not change his mind was Lindsey Graham (R-SC). “It’s just a letter,” he said, as quoted in The Greenville (SC) News. “I’ve been down that road before — they’ll promise you the moon but the point is, it’s just to get your vote.”

Mill moves

Week of Dec. 17, 2001

Greenwood to cut another 700 jobs in plant closings

GREENWOOD, SC — Greenwood Mills said last week it will close two South Carolina plants, putting more than 700 people out of work.

The company is shutting its Durst Plant, a greige fabric mill located here, and its denim fabric manufacturing facility in Liberty. About 395 people work at the Durst Plant and 325 are employed at the Liberty operation.

Greenwood was forced to make the decisions due to “a combination of poor economic conditions in our nation, the devaluation of Asian currency and the enormous influx of textile fabrics and garments imported from foreign countries,” company President Ted Colcolough said in a statement.

He added, “this has been a trend since the mid-1980s and, as a result, some of our country’s major textile firms have had to close.”

Colcolough said Greenwood hopes to reopen some facilities if economic conditions improve.

In July, the 102-year-old privately held company announced the elimination of about 776 jobs in three plant closings in as many states and a reduction at its corporate headquarters. Greenwood subsequently closed its Chalmers plant here, its Lindale Manufacturing plant in Rome, GA, and its Fist Road Aquatech plant in Cookeville, TN.

In recent years, the company has closed its Adams and Sloan plants in Ninety-Six, SC, and its Plant No. 5 here and reduced its work force at two other plants.

The company will continue to employ more than 1,000 people.

Suppliers

Week of Dec. 17, 2001

Carpet, fabric manufacturers
create treatment for dust mites

Researchers at Manufacturers Chemical L.P. in Dalton, GA, and The Ecology Works of Cleveland, OH, announced a proven treatment for dust mites and fleas.

This treatment, known as Dustmitex, is being made available to original manufacturers of carpets and textile fabrics. Dustmitex is completely non-toxic, safe, effective and inexpensive, according to company spokesman.

The uniqueness of this product lies in the fact that it kills mites and flea larva by disrupting their digestive process, thereby causing starvation. This enzyme-disruptive process is completely harmless to humans and animals, officials said.

Dust mites are microscopic organisms that inhabit more than 90 percent of homes in the United States. A typical home can have multiple millions of dust mites. Mites produce allergens that can create a broad range of symptoms that range from mild irritations to full-blown asthma attacks.

“With asthma and allergic reactions now reaching epidemic proportions, this is indeed a timely development for the textile and carpet industries,” said Kevin Kutcel of Ecology Works.

Mike Junkins of Manufacturers Chemical L.P. added, “The sale of carpets and textile fabrics is adversely affected by the recommendations of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the American Medical Association and at least a dozen other professional health organizations regarding treatment for dust mite allergies. Removal of carpets, upholstered furniture and draperies is recommended to get rid of mites. These powerfully stated recommendations are detrimental to our industries.

“Hopefully, the overwhelming proof supported by thousands of successful treatments will satisfy the medical community and indoor air quality experts.”

Suppliers

Week of Dec. 17, 2001

United Wax formed to supply yarn lubrication

SPARTANBURG, SC — United Wax Co. LLC has been formed to provide solutions and alternatives to yarn lubrication for the textile industry, its principles announced.

The company was created out of the various interest of former Discwax personnel and by industry demand for an alternative domestic source, officials said.

The combined experience of Dean Chaney as vice president of manufacturing and Charles Easton in sales gives United Wax the knowledge and expertise needed in the area of yarn lubrication, according to Mark Mezger, president. Various wax formulas are uniquely designed to each customer, taking into consideration items such as co-efficient of friction, run-time, cleanliness and type of machinery, Mezger said.

The opening of United Wax is part of an effort to support and improve the textile industry’s position in the world economy by providing an alternative North American source, Mezger added. Domestic production will provide quick response times and immediate delivery of product, he said. A second local source would also act as a type of insurance policy and prevent a “potential crippling” of the industry when unforeseen circumstances occur, he noted.

United Wax is also equipped with a complete modern laboratory in order to provide sales personnel and customers with the tools needed to evaluate yarns and find the best solution for waxing needs, he said. The laboratory will allow the company to respond to customer needs with a specific wax for their application.

For more information about the company, call Mezger at (864) 578-7002 or (864) 542-8037; or send e-mail to orders@unitedwax.com.

Books

Week of Dec. 17, 2001

History of N.C. State textiles program chronicled

RALEIGH, NC — What started almost three years ago as an article for a trade journal has grown into an exhaustive, definitive history of the North Carolina State University College of Textiles.

A Century of Progress: The Textile Program, North Carolina State University, 1899-1999 is a new book by Dr. Gary Mock, detailing the growth, evolution and influence the college has enjoyed.

Each chapter spans 10 years and includes personal accounts, historical documents and photographs. Readers will find an index in the back of the book that lists every graduate at the college from 1899-2001 — more than 10,000 names.

A Century of Progress chronicles the school’s textile program, from its roots borne out of the vision of D.A. Tompkins through its move to the university’s Centennial Campus. The book tells of the first systematic study of carding, the Nepotometer, the first synthetic heart artery, the cause of byssinosis, Pyro-Man, Coppelius, the Digital Design Center and the College’s award-winning teaching program.

In 1998, Mock was asked to write a short article on the history of the college for a textile trade magazine. “I found a book by a Professor Hart printed in 1951 that covered the first 50 years, so that really got me started,” Mock said.

During the centennial year, The News & Observer of Raleigh printed a feature article on the history of the college.

“After that article appeared, a free-lance book editor called me and suggested we write a book on the history of the college. I thought that was a great idea,” Mock said.

It took Mock about a year to write a draft manuscript. Ironically, some of the most difficult history to compile was also some of the most recent. Collecting the names of the alumni was tough, he said.

“The college had only computerized their records in the 70s, and the alumni association would change the names to reflect marriages. Some alumni didn’t want to be contacted and those who had died had been removed from lists,” Mock said.

To get the information he needed, he went into the college archives and hand-copied the names from every graduation programs from 1955-1980. “The key to our success as a college was probably the expansion from a department in the college of engineering to the school of textiles in the 1920s. Having separate buildings and identities helped us a great deal,” Mock said.

On the move

Week of Dec. 17, 2001

WestPoint realigns management

WEST POINT, GA — WestPoint Stevens said it has realigned its senior management as the company builds business units to provide optimum service to its key customers.

“This structure will enable us to enhance our market strengths and to maximize our organizational skills,” said M.L. “Chip” Fontenot, president and COO. “As we focus on the development of our business units, we will create experts on each of our key accounts.”

In this move, Robert B. “Bob” Dale has been named to the newly created post of president of the bed and bath division, and Arthur “Art” Birkins has been named president of the basic bedding division, also a newly created position. Lanny L. Bledsoe will continue to oversee manufacturing operations as senior vice president of bed and bath manufacturing.

All three will continue reporting to Fontenot. Also reporting to Fontenot will be L. Dupuy Sears, senior vice president and CFO; Linda Kinkler, senior vice president of Ralph Lauren Home; William T. Walker, senior vice president of sourcing; and Michael J. Velsmid, corporate senior vice president and president of retail stores, who also heads the company’s international operations.

Additionally, Gregory D. “Greg” Tarver has been named senior vice president of bath, and Joan Amberg has been named senior vice president of bed. Both are newly created posts based in New York. They, along with Kathleen Cwirko, senior vice president of marketing service, and Valueline Ray Yerg, vice president, will report to Dale.

In the new Basic Bedding Division headed by President Art Birkins, C. David England has been named vice president of manufacturing for the division, which includes Vellux operations, as well as manufacturing facilities of the recently acquired Chatham blankets operations and subsidiary Liebhardt Inc.

He reports to Birkins, as do Alan Kennedy, vice president of merchandising; Scott Howard, vice president of sales; and Tom Burke, vice president of business operations.

In a separate announcement, WestPoint said that John Cafaro has been named vice president of sales in the Bed and Bath Division for Kmart, Sears and Regional Mass Retailers.

Cafaro most recently was vice president of international business development from January 2000. He joined the company in 1984 as a sales representative and progressed through sales and marketing management assignments.

Fiscal notes

Week of Dec. 17, 2001

Mohawk Industries increases estimate

CALHOUN, GA — Carpet and rug maker Mohawk Industries, Inc. said Dec. 7 that it is increasing its estimate of diluted earnings per share for the fourth quarter from 74 cents to 90 to 95 cents.

The company’s previous estimate was based on flat earnings per share with the same quarter in 2000. This favorable adjustment in the estimate is based on sales running about 4 to 5 percent above last year, while gross profit as a percentage of sales is projected to be in line with last year, the company said.

During the third and fourth quarters, Mohawk benefited from sales improvements in all product areas, compared to the first half of the year. The firm said it isn’t certain if the sales improvement is a reaction to postponed orders after September 11th or indicative of economic improvement.

Suppliers

Week of Dec. 17, 2001

Fi-Tech to rep for Ungricht

RICHMOND, VA — Fi-Tech, Inc., based here, has been named by A. & E. Ungricht GmbH & Co. of Mönchengladbach, Germany, as its representative in all NAFTA countries.

Ungricht is a leader in the engraving of calendar rolls for the nonwovens and textile industries. The company develops designs for new applications, in addition to the manufacture and repair of both smooth and engraved rollers for the all production technologies of the nonwoven industry.

Fi-Tech Mexico, located in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, will be responsible for sales and support of Ungricht products for the nonwovens industry in that country. Fi-Tech’s office here will handle sales in the United States and Canada.

Fi-Tech, Inc., established in 1972, represents European and American manufacturers of machinery for the nonwovens industry and synthetic fibers industry. The company’s services include sales, technical service, spare parts inventory, bonded importation and customs clearance.

Guest Editorial

Week of Dec. 17, 2001

Evans outlines steps ‘to level playing field’

In a letter presented during the House vote on granting the president trade promotion authority on Dec. 6, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans gave assurances to Textile Caucus members that their interests would be looked after by the Bush administration. He wrote that the following steps will taken:

• We will aggressively pursue the opening of foreign markets to U.S. textile and apparel products in any future trade agreement. ... We will make reciprocal market access in the textile and apparel market a priority in upcoming negotiations by initiating that new trade agreements afford U.S. companies significant access to foreign markets in order to level the playing field for our firms.

• We will place a high priority on enforcing our existing trade agreements on textiles and apparel and closely monitor foreign textile trade barriers. ... I have asked Under Secretary Grant Aldonas and our Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance, Bill Lash, to develop an improved trade agreements compliance strategy government-wide.

• With respect to existing trade arrangements, particularly the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC), we intend to implement the ATC integration as scheduled. We have declined all requests to negotiate an accelerated schedule for elimination of existing quotas and intend to continue to do so. The ATC was a carefully balanced agreement designed to provide the industry with a gradual transition to the new regime beginning in 2005.

• I intend to do my utmost to help U.S. textile companies take advantage of the benefits of our tariff preference programs, including the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) and the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which were structured with their interests in mind. Those programs can help foster apparel production using U.S. yarn and fabric inputs, and open new markets for our textile, yarn, and fiber exporters in the process.

• We will place a high priority on the Commerce Department’s Export Expansion Program for the textile and apparel industries.

• We are committed to strengthening U.S. enforcement efforts to prevent illegal textile transshipment, both under U.S. Customs law and pursuant to existing or future trade agreements. ... In addition, we will insist on strong enforcement provisions that will allow us to address industry concerns with illegal transshipment. We have already begun to move aggressively on that front in consultations with China. Those talks relate to the potential “charge-back” against China’s quota of some 400,000 dozen garments which illegally entered the United States with an approximate value of $28 million.

• In developing any proposal for assistance to Pakistan, the administration is committed to working with the Congress to minimize the impact on the U.S. textile and apparel industry. It is Congress, of course, that holds the authority to lower tariffs or duties on textile and apparel products from Pakistan.

• We will continue to support the reauthorization of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program. In addition, we would like to see the current TAA and NAFTA-TAA programs consolidated and streamlined to help better address the needs of textile and apparel workers who lose their jobs as a result of trade. ... We intend to work closely with Congress on changes to the TAA programs that would improve the services and training delivered to hard-working Americans.

• I want to emphasize the administration’s commitment to enforcing our trade remedy laws generally, and on behalf of our textile industry in particular. As I have testified many times before Congress, there is nothing more dispiriting to American industry and American workers than to see the benefits of trade undermined by unfair trade practices. I intend to ensure that our industry has full access to our trade remedy laws consistent with our international rights and obligations.

Textile News Index