STA winds up busy year

December 20, 2004

The Southern Textile Association wound up another busy year with three Fall Meetings boasting respectable turnouts along the I-85 corridor.

Don Bailey of Cotton Inc. addresses STA members during their Piedmont Division meeting. Photos by Devin Steele

STA members — all interested in information on staying competitive in the global textile world — gathered in Greensboro, NC, Belmont, NC, and Greenville, SC, to hear a diverse group of speakers.

In Greensboro, Larry Kenyon of Murata Machinery, USA, Charlotte, NC, and Hans Rothen of Rieter Corp., Spartanburg, SC, presented “New Developments For Core Spun Yarns” during the North Carolina/Virginia Division meeting at the Sheraton Four Seasons.

At the Piedmont Division meeting at the NC Center for Applied Textile Technology in Belmont, Don Bailey of Cotton Incorporated covered “Innovations in Cotton Processing and Products Through Textile Research.”

The South Carolina Division meeting at the Palmetto Expo Center in Greenville featured a plethora of speakers ranging from a trade experts to educational leaders to a legislator.

Textile News Index

International trade

China vows to impose export taxes

December 20, 2004

The China Commerce Ministry, perhaps in an effort to avert a trade war with the United States and the European Union, announced Dec. 12 that it will levy tariffs, or taxes, on some China-made textiles and apparel exports.

The announcement, made via the organization’s Web site, perhaps was made to win public relations points amid fears expressed by a number of countries over the potential impact of China’s exports when the decades-old global quota system expires at the end of this month.

Already, groups representing U.S. textile interests have filed 12 threat-based petitions, or safeguards, with the U.S. government seeking to limit the number of exports from countries that could disrupt the market when quotas end.

China’s Ministry of Commerce did not specify which items would be included or what the tariff rates would be. The measures are included in an eight-point plan laid out by spokesman Chong Quan.

“This is part of a string of measures China will take to ensure a smooth transition for textile integration following the end of the quota system,” Quan said on the Web site. “Seeking a fundamental change in export growth patterns is a top priority facing China’s textile sector. The Chinese government opposes trade protectionism ... but will work hard to increase communication and cooperation with each country for the healthy development of international trade.”

He added that the tax “will help encourage the export of high value-added products and optimize the mix of Chinese textile exports. The tariff rate will be set by considering the conditions of textile manufacturers.”

As many as 30 million jobs worldwide could be threatened if China is allowed to dominate the textile and apparel trade, according to the Global Alliance for Fair Trade in Textiles (GAFTT), a coalition of 96 textile and clothing manufacturing trade associations from 54 countries.

GAFTT also has said that since China joined the WTO at the end of 2001, it has “engaged in a premeditated and systematic effort to monopolize world trade in textiles and clothing by undercutting free market prices through a complex scheme of industrial subsidization and currency manipulation.”

Meanwhile, the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA) said Dec. 12 that it will continue to limit imports of some textiles and apparel even after quotas expire.

CITA published in the Federal Register its plan for a “staged entry” of certain textiles and apparel imports. CITA said these imports in excess of the 2004 quota levels would be denied entry until Feb. 1, when an amount equal to 5 percent of the 2004 level would be allowed to enter.

Imports would be limited to 5 percent of the 2004 quota in each month after that until all of the excess shipments have entered, the agency said.

Textile News Index

International trade

China pricing stats released

December 20, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC — The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) on Dec. 15 released statistics showing that China is exporting trousers, shirts and underwear and other apparel at 76 percent below U.S. producer prices and 58 percent below the prices of other exporting countries for the same garments.

“This data clearly demonstrates the enormously unfair trade advantages the Chinese government is employing on behalf of its textile and apparel industry, and validates our concern that China will flood the U.S. in 2005 if textile safeguards are not imposed by our government,” said Cass Johnson, president of NCTO.

Johnson noted that, “In 29 apparel categories that were removed from quota in 2002, Chinese prices plunged by 53 percent, helping Chinese exports to the U.S. of these products to grow by more than 1,000 percent. As a result, China’s share of the U.S. grew from roughly 10 percent to 72 percent — and this was in just 30 months.”

According to NCTO, these unfair advantages the Chinese government employs include a 40 percent price advantage because of Chinese currency manipulation, billions of dollars in direct subsidization of its textile industry and government banks that are giving away money to Chinese manufacturers.

“China engages in the worst kind of predatory pricing,” Johnson said.

“When our companies are competing against the Chinese government itself, then something is very wrong and we need the U.S. government to respond on our behalf,” he added.

Textile News Index


Quality group refocusing, engaging retailers

December 20, 2004

By Devin Steele

GREENVILLE, SC — As other associations focused on the textile industry, the 53-year-old Textile Quality Control Association (TQCA) is retooling to adapt to the industry’s rapidly changing dynamics in order to better serve its members.

TQCA President Anton Wilson of Target Corp. is the first retail representative to hold the top elected post with the quality control group. Photos by Devin Steele

TQCA President Anton Wilson, director of technical development of retail giant Target Corp., Minneapolis, recently summarized those efforts during the association’s Fall Conference here. Later, board member and industry consultant Neil Cahill, in an interview with Southern Textile News, elaborated on the steps TQCA is taking to remain viable and valuable to its constituents.

Wilson prefaced his comments by saying, “It’s interesting to me in the last year to see how much American businesses and politicians have become agitated and excited over outsourcing and offshoring. This is a new thing to them.

“Well, we’ve been fighting this for over 20 years. It’s not new to us. But now that they’re involved in it, it has become very popular to talk about it. I think it’s a good thing for all of us to be engaged in this debate.”

Among actions taken: The group scheduled a full-day retreat to discuss issues affecting the association, which has seen its membership decline due to the rapid downturn of the domestic textile industry, Wilson said.

TQCA board member Neil Cahill, who has worked to bridge the gap between textile manufacturers and retailers, asks a question during the group’s Fall Conference.

“The idea was to talk about the vision and the mission of what we should be doing,” he said. “How can we be relevant and how can we retain the industry that we represent?”

A full session of brainstorming led the board to conclude that quality is a competitive advantage, Wilson pointed out.

“We decided that our industry needs our association, where quality is debated, analyzed, defined and improved,” he said. “We believe that we can be that association.”

As such, the directors developed a new mission statement that reflects the way TQCA believes it can serve the industry, he added.

That mission statement:

“To provide the forum for exchanging ideas and information about quality as a business strategy for the competitive textile market.”

“At first glance, it’s actually much simpler than our old one,” Wilson said. “But in simplicity we can also find flexibility and also stability.”

He added: “We must be flexible in our definition of quality. For the past two years we’ve had speakers come to our association conferences and tell us things such as quality is more than just defects per 100. I sum it up by saying that what I heard is that quality can be anything that affects your customer’s satisfaction.

“But I argue even further that quality is anything that affects your customer’s profitability, because if they can’t be profitable from what they get from you, then they’re going to back the whole supply chain out. That’s really what it’s going to come down to.”

Wilson continued by asserting that quality should be thought of as a supply chain issue.

“Much like for the past 10 years businesses have been very aggressive in driving costs out of the supply chain and looking at the whole supply chain as a cost issue. We need to be looking at the whole supply chain as a quality issue. How can we improve the quality throughout the supply chain?”

Stability, he noted, can be anything that falls into those parameters as a quality issue.

“It’s not traditional to what we do or what we thought we’ve done, but it is by definition a quality issue,” Wilson said. “And the same tools that we use to define, measure, analyze, improve and control quality can be used to define, measure, analyze, improve and control any other issue. It’s not complicated. So as quality managers we have the basic tools to help in that endeavor.”

Getting retailers’ take

Among other initiatives undertaken by the TQCA board was to seek the opinion of others, specifically customers and in this case retailers — a decision that made sense, Cahill said, since Wilson represents one.

Cahill, a retired longtime executive with the Institute of Textile Technology, volunteered himself to conduct interviews with various retailers. He began with one question: What must an American textile manufacturer do in order to be a valuable supplier to you?

That icebreaker led to thorough, open-ended dialogue, Cahill reported.

“That unleashed a floodgate of perceptions of the textile industry and ideas as to what the retailers think we ought to do and what we’re not doing,” he said.

Based on his findings, Cahill is in the process of preparing a major report.

As part of the association’s efforts of reaching out to and “picking the brain” of the retailing community, TQCA invited David Baron, vice president of quality assurance and product development at Liz Claiborne, Inc., to speak to the group during its Fall Conference. (Similarly, the Southern Textile Association, with Cahill’s assistance, is also bridging the gap between manufacturers and its major customer, as reflected by its agenda for its Vendors Conference last summer.)

David Baron of Liz Claiborne provides a retailers’ perspective to suppliers’ challenges during TQCA’s Fall Conference.

Cahill said he detected a common theme from retail representatives, including Baron during his presentation to TQCA.

“In his remarks, David repeated the same word six or seven times,” Cahill said. “The industry is disconnected, disconnected, disconnected. He hammered that home. And he implied — though he didn’t say this, but I interpreted it to mean — that we as an industry were designed to be parts manufacturers. One makes yarn and one does dyeing and one does weaving and someone else does finishing. And these retailers don’t want parts. They want ready-to-go products, which they call full-package products.”

Which led to a conundrum, he continued: If companies, with the exception of vertically integrated manufacturers, are predominantly parts manufacturers and if the industry is disconnected, then how can they provide what the customer wants?

“The answer is, we can’t,” Cahill said.

Not now, anyway, he added. So the industry much focus on developing a management structure based on a concept he called “interactive integration.”

“Interactive means there’s constant, two-way communication, back and forth, flowing,” Cahill said. “There’s total communication breakdown between the parts needed to make the product.
“But (the retailer) wants not only integration — because a vertically integrated company already has that integration — but he wants interactive integration,” he added. “Not only do you work together, but you become integrated and you’re interactive. There’s a continuous flow, as (David) said in his final statement: “You, the textile industry, must become an extension of our staff, the retailer.”

Interactive integration directly attacks the issue of disconnection, he continued.

As Wilson mentioned, quality performance of the supply chain is fundamental to the issue of quality, Cahill reiterated. Now, manufacturers need to look at it as an integrated quality system, he added.

“The quality of the supply chain is a phrase; interactive integration is a method,” he said. “To be an interactively integrated company, you just don’t write that on a piece of paper and say ‘now we are.’ It requires a change of mindset, a change in organization, a change of skill base of the company.

“You have to reinvent the company, because we are an industry that is coming from a tradition of mass production, commodity products, cross competitive. And we pump these products into the market and hope that somebody will buy them. Unfortunately what’s happened, we’re pumping, but they’re buying from somebody else. We better change our business model. And we don’t have a hell of a lot of time to do it.”

Any companies with the right mindset can figure out how to do it, he added.

“No one has some secret, proprietary capability that the others can’t have,” Cahill said. “The problem is, most of these companies are not interactively integrated with the customer so they can customize their capabilities to match those demands and requirements. And that’s the heart of the whole issue.”

Textile News Index


WestPoint Stevens receives extension

December 20, 2004

WEST POINT, GA — WestPoint Stevens, Inc. announced Dec. 3 that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court has extended the company’s exclusive right to file a plan of reorganization through Jan. 20.

“We are nearing the final stage of negotiations with our creditors regarding our exit from bankruptcy. We continue to be hopeful this process will be concluded in the first quarter of 2005,” said M.L. “Chip” Fontenot, president and CEO. “WestPoint Stevens is maintaining excellent customer service levels and continues to enjoy ample financial flexibility.”

As previously announced, WestPoint Stevens and certain of its subsidiaries filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in June 2003.

Charisma line acquired

Separately, WestPoint announced Dec. 9 that it has gained one of the ultimate luxury brands for bed and bath in a licensing agreement to market the famed Charisma® line, previously manufactured by former rival Pillowtex Corp. Under WPS, Charisma’s placement will be marked by exclusivity, with limited distribution to select department stores and upscale catalogs.

“Over time, Charisma has become the absolute standard of luxury for bed and bath products in the home furnishings industry, with well-established brand recognition by consumers. Few brands have had the luxury-market impact that Charisma has shown,” said Robert B. “Bob” Dale, president of Bed and Bath, who served with Pillowtex’s former company, Fieldcrest Cannon, for a number of years. “It’s a brand so key that we’re launching an entire new division — Charisma Home — to optimize the opportunities it offers.

“In taking Charisma forward, we will stay true to the brand’s unique concept of properties while enhancing its position as the aspirational brand for discriminating consumers whose lifestyle embraces real luxury,” Dale added.

Arthur “Art” Birkins, president of the Basic Bedding Division, said he sees Charisma as a significant boost to the luxury level of that business.

“Over the past few years, there’s been a surge in higher-end products in basic bedding,” Birkins said. “There’s a solid trend toward building a better bed that starts with pads and pillows, and consumers look for higher thread counts and upscale fabrics and constructions. Charisma offers a great opportunity to meet these demands.”

Charisma Home will encompass fashion bedding and decorative pillows, bath and bath accessories and a range of basic bedding that includes blankets, throws and down and down-alternative products. The anticipated Charisma shipping date is fourth quarter 2005.

Judi Alexander will head the new division as vice president of Charisma Home. She previously served as vice president of Marketing for the Basic Bedding Division.

The Charisma trademark is owned by Official Pillowtex LLC.

Units realigned

In addition, WestPoint Stevens said Dec. 13 that the company’s Basic Bedding Division is aligning its Marketing, Product Development and Sourcing areas — a move to streamline and strengthen those key functions and better serve its retail partners.

The three units will be integrated under Ida Moran, who has been promoted to vice president of Marketing, Product Development and Sourcing for the division. She formerly was vice president of Basic Bedding Sourcing from 2001 and has been with WestPoint Stevens since 1998.

“Our global sourcing has experienced tremendous growth, and it’s obvious that the development and marketing of our products are closely tied to sourcing,” said Basic Bedding Division President Art Birkins. “The synergy of the three functions will be much stronger in a consolidation under the direction of one person.”

Other moves include the promotion of Jackie Zutler to director of Marketing and Shazia Shah to Product Manager of Sourcing and the hiring of Aimee Ferraro as product manager of Sourcing.

Zutler had been director of Creative Service for Basic Bedding since joining the company in 2002. Shah, previously associate product manager of Sourcing, has been with WPS since 2002. Ferraro previously was product manager at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia for the past five years.

All three will report to Moran, as will members of the Product Development team located at various Basic Bedding facilities.

Textile News Index


ITG to buy Cleyn & Tinker

December 20, 2004

GREENSBORO, NC — International Textile Group (ITG) announced Dec. 13 that its Burlington WorldWide division has agreed to purchase the business of Cleyn & Tinker, a leading Canadian worsted wool manufacturer, including the intellectual properties and Cleyn & Tinker trade name.

“The addition of this business allows us the opportunity to expand our capabilities and offer our customers the highest quality and selection of worsted wool fabrics,” said Joseph L. Gorga, president and CEO of ITG.

Established in 1930, Cleyn & Tinker is based in Quebec, Canada and is a leading producer of 100-percent worsted wool and wool blend fabrics for the menswear, womenswear and career apparel sectors.

“We are confident that this business combination will best serve the needs of our long-term customer base through the continued supply of high-quality worsted fabrics,” said Jonathan Hurstfield-Meyer, president and CEO of Cleyn & Tinker.

Asian partner found

Separately, ITG said Dec. 10 that it is partnering with China Ting Group, a leading vertical manufacturer of textile products based in Hong Kong, to build a dyeing and finishing plant in the Linping Industrial Area of Hangzhou China.

ITG also announced that it would build a warehouse and distribution center in the same complex to support its growing business initiatives in the region. The combined investment will be $20 million.

The plant will be under the direction of the Interior Fabrics Division of ITG and is scheduled to be operational by the end of next year.

“Building international partnerships is a key aspect of our strategic plan in 2005,” Gorga said. “China Ting Group is a world-class manufacturing and retailing company. We are combining ITG’s technical strength in dyeing and finishing with China Ting Group’s excellent operational foundation in the region to further penetrate the interior fabric market segments in China.”

J. Derrill Rice, president of the Interior Fabrics Division added, “The dynamic Asian market represents an opportunity for growth. A manufacturing base in China is critical to support our strategy both domestically and abroad.”

China Ting Group has also entered into a license agreement with ITG to develop “Burlington House Retail” as a freestanding home furnishings store concept in China. The retail store prototype has been completed and 25 stores are scheduled to open by the end of 2005.

ITG was organized in March by WL Ross and Co. LLC to acquire Burlington Industries and Cone Mills.

Textile News Index

Mill notes

Dan River to sell Eng. Products unit

December 20, 2004

DANVILLE, VA — Dan River, Inc. announced that it entered into an agreement on Dec. 10 for the sale of the assets of its Engineered Products Division.

Specialty Fabrics, Inc. and Royal Cord Inc., producers of yarns and fabrics for the rubber goods market. The purchase price is $9.37 million, which is subject to certain post-closing adjustments.

VF Imagewear to buy Harley-Davidson licensee

NASHVILLE, TN — VF Imagewear, a division of VF Corporation, announced Dec. 8 that it has signed an agreement to acquire substantially all of the assets of Holoubek, Inc.

With sales in excess of $40 million, Wisconsin-based Holoubek has been an apparel licensee of Harley-Davidson, Inc. for more than 20 years.

Murdoch highest bidder for Pillowtex property

KANNAPOLIS, NC — California billionaire David Murdock, the former owner of Cannon Mills, was declared the highest bidder for property belonging to Cannon’s successor company, Pillowtex Corporation.

Pillowtex Corporation announced that Castle & Cooke, owned by Murdock, had the highest bid at the conclusion of the auction held on Dec. 10, for the sale of Pillowtex’s massive Plant 1 complex and waste water treatment facility here.

The final bid was for a purchase price of $4.25 million in cash, plus a convertible promissory note in the principal amount of $2.1 million.

Pillowtex filed for bankruptcy in July 2003 and subsequently liquidated.

Possible uses for the site include residential, commercial and industrial uses, according to reports.

Russell Corporation set to get Brooks Sports

ATLANTA — Russell Corporation announced Dec. 14 it has signed an agreement to acquire Brooks Sports, Inc. for about $115 million.

Brooks is a leading global provider of performance athletic footwear, apparel and accessories to running enthusiasts worldwide

Malden Mills union agrees to contract

LAWRENCE, MA — Malden Mills Industries Inc., makers of Polartec® performance textiles, announced Dec. 9 that the members of the UNITE HERE union have voted to accept a new three-year contract.

Textile News Index


Charles Craft to shut plants

December 20, 2004

LAURINBURG, NC — Charles Craft Inc., based here, said Dec. 15 that it will be closing its last two remaining manufacturing facilities in North Carolina, at the cost of 300 jobs.

The company produces kitchen textile products, needlecraft fabrics and accessories, industrial yarns and fabrics, dyed yarns and high-performance flame-resistant/cut resistant yarns and fabrics.

Charles Craft plans to close plants here, where 176 people make kitchen-craft products, and in Siler City, NC, a 137-employee facility that spins yarn, but will continue to operate its Harner, SC, plant.

Charles Buie, who founded the company in 1967, blamed foreign competition, large retail chains that buy from them and the high cost of doing business domestically.

“Our company has struggled for two years, but this really came on very, very suddenly, just within the last six weeks,” John A. Jackson, vice president of human resources, told The News & Observer of Raleigh, NC. “We have hung in here for a long time trying to compete against imports, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do that.”

In is heyday in the mid-1990s, Charles Craft operated five plants and employed about 1,100 people. The company shuttered its Roseboro, NC, plant in 1995 and its Wadesboro, NC, facility in 2000.

Textile News Index


December 20, 2004

Standard Mill Machinery sold to David Austin

WEST WARWICK, RI — David W. Austin is the new president and owner of Standard Mill Machinery Corp.

Austin began with the company in 1996 and has held a variety of positions, most recently vice president. He assumed the role of president in October.

Arthur H. Lavoie, former co-owner and president of Standard, continues to work with Austin, assisting with the company’s daily operations as well as serving as a consultant. Lavoie has more than 40 years of textile industry experience, including positions at Universal Winding Company, Leesona Corporation and Coto Corp.

He became vice president of Stand Mill Supply in 1982 and later bought Standard Mill Machinery Corp. He was president from 1995 until October, when he sold the company to Austin.

Propex acquires unit of BP Fabrics & Fibers

HOUSTON — Propex Fabrics Inc., a subsidiary of Propex Fabrics Holdings Inc. (formerly AFFC Holdings, Inc.), announced that it has finalized the acquisition of BP’s Amoco Fabrics and Fibers subsidiary and its associated assets.

The transaction was sponsored by an investor group comprised of The Sterling Group, L.P., Genstar Capital, L.P. and Laminar Direct Capital, L.P. As with other Sterling, Genstar and Laminar Direct Capital investments, management of the purchased company will also be participating significantly in the ownership of the newly independent organization.

The business will operate under the name Propex Fabrics Inc.

Based in Austell, GA, Propex Fabrics Inc. is a leading producer of synthetic fabrics. It is the world’s top producer of primary carpet backing and secondary carpet backing and also is a leading producer of synthetic fabrics for use in furniture, bedding, automotive, geotextile, and other industrial fabrics applications.

Jacob Holm invests in U.S. manufacturing

BASEL, SWITZERLAND — The Jacob Holm Group, a supplier in the wipes market with manufacturing plants in France and Germany, has made a $40 million investment in the a spunlace nonwovens plant and after-treatment facilities in Asheville, NC.

Furthermore, new products for technical applications such as filtration have been developed by the company.

In order to further strengthen the services provided, to focus on these applications on a global basis and to secure continuous growth, Jacob Holm said it will restructure into business units.

Peter Stoffel, who served Jacob Holm as chief operating officer the last three years, has been appointed CEO.

Jack B. Richardson, formerly operations manager at Fru-Con Construction who has held senior management positions with Johnson & Johnson and the James River Company, has been appointed COO.

Michael Norboge, a member of the Jacob Holm Group since 1996 who prepared the U.S. expansion as sales director for the Americas, has been named vice president of Wipes.

Claudia de Buman, who joined the team at the end of 2003 pursuant to senior management positions with Allianz and Migros, has been appointed vice president of Technical Applications.

PGI, Midwest partner on filtration products

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC — Polymer Group, Inc. (PGI) and Midwest Filtration Co. Dec. 6 a partnership to jointly market a new pool and spa filtration product in North America, bringing a high-performance alternative media to the growing cartridge market segment.

Aquapex™, a pleatable 100-percent polyester (PET) filtration fabric that provides pool and spa owners with more balanced overall performance, was introduced at Filtration 2004 in Philadelphia.

Solutia to raise nylon carpet fiber prices

ST. LOUIS — Solutia Inc. will increase the price on all nylon carpet fiber products by 5 to 7 percent for shipments on or after Jan. 15.

Vinamul Polymers to increase prices

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — Vinamul Polymers said it is increasing the price on all of its poly vinly homopolymer, ethylene vinyl acetate co-polymer, acrylic and vinyl acrylic emulsions in North American by 4 cents per wet pound, as contracts allow, effective Jan. 1.

Textile News Index

On the Move

December 20, 2004

AFMA directors elect Donald Clark chairman

WASHINGTON, DC — At the close of its annual meeting, the board of directors of the American Fiber Manufacturers Association announced the election of Donald P. Clark as chairman of the association for the coming year.

Clark president and CEO of Pliana, Inc., has served as vice chairman of AFMA and chairman of its executive committee since April.

He succeeds Walter Hubbard, president and CEO of Honeywell Nylon, Inc., who remains a member of the executive committee.

Lowell D. Bivens, president and general manager of Diolen Industrial Fibers, Inc., was elected vice chairman. He will also serve as chairman of the executive committee.

The AFMA board re-elected as its treasurer Bradley Hill, vice president of Marketing and Business Management of Solutia, Inc. Hill was chairman of AFMA in 2002.

In addition, Hill, Hubbard and other elected members of the AFMA executive committee are: William Ghitis, president, Global Apparel, Invista, Inc.; James Morelli, executive vice president of Sales and Marketing, American Fibers & Yarns Co.; and Zach Zacharias, vice president, Unifi-Sans, Technical Fibers, LLC.

The American Fiber Manufacturers Association is the trade association for the U.S. producers of manufactured fiber. Its members account for more than 90 percent of the industry’s domestic shipments.

Kamath to succeed Rebenfeld as TRJ editor

PRINCETON, NJ — TRI/Princeton announced that Dr. Yash K. Kamath, research director, has been named to succeed the late Dr. Ludwig Rebenfeld as editor of the peer-reviewed Textile Research Journal (TRJ).

Kamath joined TRI in 1972 as a polymer and colloid chemist after graduating from the University of Connecticut with a Ph.D. in physical chemistry. He currently directs the research areas of hair chemistry and physics, finish analysis, textile science and carpet performance.

In October 2002, Kamath was awarded an honorary membership to the Fiber Society in recognition of his outstanding career as a fiber and polymer scientist.

Ticona appoints three in Europe, United States

KELSTERBACH, GERMANY — Ticona, an engineering polymers business of Celanese AG, has appointed Michael Oberste-Wilms as European sales director.

Oberste-Wilms joined Hoechst AG in 1986 and has held various roles at Ticona in the U.S., Great Britain and Japan. He was responsible for Investor Relations at Celanese AG for the past three years. Oberste-Wilms reports to Jürgen Kulpe, business director, Europe.

Gregor Bommel, the previous sales director, has taken over global respon- sibility for the Topas® COC business line.

Bommel replaces Miguel Mantas, who was previously appointed head of the Polyols & Olefin Derivatives product line at Celanese Chemicals. Bommel reports to Thomas Hensel, vice president of Global Demand.

Anthony O’Driscoll has been named Americas sales director. He joined Ticona from Ciba Specialty Chemicals, where he held positions as director of sales and marketing for Plastic Additives in the NAFTA region, and global segment head for Additives for Specialty Polymers in Basel, Switzerland.

He reports to Bob Engle, business director, Americas, and is based in Auburn Hills, MI.

Ciba Specialty Chems. chooses Kvaal head

Ciba Specialty Chemicals has named Kent Kvaal as head of Textile Effects for the Americas. He brings to this role a blend of business, marketing, operations and financial experience in the specialty chemicals, adhesives and technical textiles areas.

Kvall joins Ciba from Rayonier Performance Fibers. As general manager of the Engineered Absorbent Materials subsidiary, he oversaw the start-up and growth of this new venture, producing airlaid nonwovens.

“We have great confidence that Kent’s varied and successful background will bring the creativity, leadership and entrepreneurial spirit as we focus more heavily on Technical Textiles,” said Eric Marohn, global head of Textile Effects for Ciba.

AFS Society appoints Sower exec. manager

MINNEAPOLIS — The America Filtration & Separations Society has appointed Suzanne Sower as executive manager.

Accordingly, the headquarters of the AFS has moved from Houston, TX, to Minneapolis, MN, where the AFS is incorporated as a 501 (c) 3 corporation.

During the past year, Dr. Wenping Li of the University of Houston filled the vacant position after Mayberry & Associates of Falls Church, VA, and the AFS separated.

Textile News Index


December 20, 2004

Hairiness Grades released by Uster

Uster Technologies AG regularly publishes application papers and documents, such as Uster® Yarn Grades and the Uster® Statistics, to help the textile industry worldwide to compare and optimize the yarn quality.

Uster Technologies AG celebrated another milestone, delivering its 1,000th USTER® Tester 4 to the worldwide market. The unit was sold to Ambica Cotton Mills during India ITME in Mumbai December 7. During a ceremony in Uster’s booth, Geoff Scott (L), CEO of Uster, hands over the trophy to P.V. Chandran, managing director Ambica Cotton Mills. Ambica Cotton Mills has for many years relied on quality controlling with USTER® products.

The Uster® Yarn Grades help to relate yarn defects as classified by measuring systems to process faults and help the spinner make a decision, if they need to be eliminated or accepted through appropriate settings. The Uster® Yarn Grades also help yarn buyers in specifying the required quality level to the spinner with greater clarity.

It is now well accepted that differences in yarn hairiness is often disturbing in fabrics and influence the fabric hand (feel). The Hairiness index H and variation sh have been the most reliable measurement of hairiness variations in yarns for close to two decades, Uster said.

First introduced with the Uster® Tester 3 in 1987, the hairiness measurement was implemented in on-line systems on the Uster® Quantum clearer in 2002. The on-line Hairiness measurement principle is on the same basis as the Uster® Tester 4.

The Uster® Statistics, last published in 2001, already include benchmarks for the Hairiness index H for knitted and woven fabric.

In addition, a long-awaited request is the Uster® Hairiness Grades. Spinners have often requested that they need to compare and understand hairiness levels for yarns in a simple form. The new Uster® Hairiness Grades help to visualize various levels of the Hairiness index H for cotton combed yarns Ne 20 to Ne 60.

Further releases are planned for carded and compact yarns as well.

The new Uster® Hairiness Grades will help you understand and control hairiness variations better, according to Uster.

HunterLab unveils units

RESTON, VA — HunterLab has introduced three software packages for use with its line of color measurement spectrophotometers.

EasyMatch® QC is a new color quality control program that provides unprecedented flexibility to collect, display and analyze data, HunterLab said. EasyMatch QC has seven configurable data views and uses job files to easily store and recall data.

Job files can easily be e-mailed or exported to management software. A secure version is available with definable access privileges, electronic signature and audit log.

The new EasyGroup software is used with EasyMatch QC to perform shade sorting and tapering. It automatically groups samples of similar shade together. It can further minimize color variation by sequencing (tapering) within each group, the company said.

EasyMatch OL is the new on-line color measurement software that provides real-time data from the SpectraProbe XE on-line spectrophotometer. Its networking capability allows users to operate up to four on-line spectrophotometer sensors using one server computer and to use multiple client computers to communicate to the sensors through the server.

Adaptive Control offers water-soluable bags

CHARLOTTE, NC — Adaptive Control, based here, announced its continued supply of water-soluble bags to the textile industry.

These water soluble bags are supplied in two solubility specifications — cold and hot — and in many sizes. They have been popular for the last several years, said Tony Webber, sales director.

The bags have several significant advantages for the textile industry, Webber added. One of the main uses is to pre-weigh dry products such as powder chemicals and dyes. The bags can be easily referenced by writing directly on the bag. The clear bags use soluble ties to to secure the contents.

The bag is then added to the process and dissolves completely without any chemical effects, according to Webber. This ensures the complete addition of the product, no dust inhalation and no messy clean up, saving energy and time, he pointed out.

There are several major users of these bags. They state that the paybacks and benefits are there and continue to use these bags on a daily basis, according to Webber.

Hosiery and garment dyers make pre-weighed lots of greige goods, too, in the soluble bags. They are simply placed in the bags then in the dyeing machinery, saving time and improvement in productivity, Webber said.

Sulzer Textil writes order

RUTI, SWITZERLAND — Kaihara, a leading denim producer in Japan, has ordered 60 Sulzer Textil projectile weaving machines of the newest generation P7300HP.

The weaving machines will be installed in the new mill located in western Japan to produce high-quality denim fabrics. The P7300HP, which features an increased weft insertion rate, was launched recently during an open house at Sultex’s office here.

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Museum raises $98,000 at gala

December 20, 2004

LOWELL, MA — During the annual gala dinner dance, the American Textile History Museum (ATHM) raised $98,000 to benefit the museum’s programs and activities.

ATHM chairman emeritus Edward B. Stevens (L) and wife Andy are pictured at the Butler Flag display with museum board Assistant Treasurer Jonathan A. Stevens. Ed Stevens is chairman of Ames Textile Corp. in Lowell and Jonathan Stevens is Ames president. The Butler Flag was the first flag made from American bunting fabric. The flag was produced in Lowell in 1865 on an order from Civil War General Benjamin Franklin Butler, founder of the U.S. Bunting Company, which later became Ames Textiles.

More than 180 guests attended the event, hosted by the museum’s board of trustees. The event honored recipients of the 2004 Community Service Award and featured the opening night of the museum’s new special exhibition, “Born on the 4th of July: Lowell Celebrates the Nation.”

Gold sponsors of the fund-raiser included Ames Textile Corporation; Demoulas Foundation; Robert L. Gable; and Dean and Eliza Webster.

Silver sponsors included Broadwater Capital Management, Brown Brothers Harriman, Butler Bank/Pearson and Pearson LLP, Nancy and Richard Donahue, Lowell Five Cent Savings Bank and Merida Meridian.

The Community Service Award recognizes volunteerism, compassion and service to the community. It was instituted in 2002 by the museum and given to Samuel S. Rogers of North Andover, MA.

“Born on the 4th of July: Lowell Celebrates the Nation” continues through April 3. This special exhibit explores textile symbols from America’s heritage and the important role textiles has played in building a national identity.

More than 20 artifacts from the museum’s own collections are showcased, including 18th, 19th and 20th century coverlets, cloth labels and costumes in design motifs from portraits of America’s great men and allegorical women figures to stars and stripes and soaring eagles.

Among objects featured is the “Butler Flag,” the first flag made in the United States of all-American fabric, and produced in Lowell in 1865, nearly 100 years after this country gained its independence.

Gala honorees Dean K. Webster (L) and Dean K. Webster (C) stand with Michael J. Smith, president and CEO of the American Textile History Museum, at the entrance to the museum’s new special exhibit “Born on the 4th of July: Lowell Celebrates the Nation.” Webster is a philanthropist and longtime friend of the museum, while Johnson is president and executive director of the Hartford (CT) Artisans’ Center. Photos by PEI/John Gillooly

Other features include a wool rug with flag, the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore and the Boston Wool Trade Association logo, made by Brintons U.S. Axminster, Inc. of Greenville, MS.

This exhibit, organized by the ATHM, is sponsored in part by Enterprise Bank & Trust Company.

In keeping with the patriotic theme of the Born on the 4th of July special exhibit, the museum’s Textile Learning Center (TLC) offers Stars and Stripes activities for families with children ages 6–12. Included are learning about the history of the American flag, creating a patriotic banner, a star matching domino game, a community American flag collage and a dramatic play dress-up area with Statue of Liberty crowns and Uncle Sam top hats. Displays include patriotic quilts, historic needlework and a small plaque of the early version of the Pledge of Allegiance.

The museum tells America’s story through the art, history and science of our textiles. Features include the permanent Textiles in America exhibition and children’s Textile Learning Center (LC) and Special Exhibition Gallery.

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Pickin' Cotton

Consumption is key to supporting prices

December 20, 2004

By Odyll Santos

Expectations of strong world consumption have allowed the U.S. cotton market to recover despite bearish supply/demand data over the past several months. These ideas of rising world cotton use in the coming months are expected to preserve the market’s resilience even as USDA’s latest supply/demand report, released Dec. 10, added more bearish data for the market to digest.

Concerns over higher world cotton production led New York cotton futures downward following USDA’s December report, though interest from foreign fiber buyers at the level of 42 cents per pound continued to provide support.

USDA’s report showed higher world production at 114 million 480-pound bales, up 2.25 million from November. World supplies were raised due to larger crops in India, Pakistan and the U.S., where production was raised to 22.82 million bales, up 300,000 bales from the previous month. The agency increased its estimate for U.S. domestic consumption 100,000 bales to 6.2 million bales and raised U.S. ending stocks 200,000 bales to 7.7 million bales.

USDA increased world cotton consumption by 360,000 bales to 103.29 million bales, and world ending stocks were increased to 46.5 million bales, up about 2.0 million from November.

In comments for the week ended Dec. 10, cotton marketing specialist O.A. Cleveland noted that the cotton market has been able to survive bearish crop reports in the past several months, with futures prices holding above 40 cents per pound. He pointed out that world ending stocks are about 11 million bales larger than stocks in the prior year despite the increase of nearly five million bales in world consumption. “The pressure of building stocks only adds to the bearish market overtone,” he said.

World consumption could climb as high as 105 million to 106 million bales, 2 million to 3 million bales above the current USDA estimate. Cleveland said much of the increase in cotton use would occur in China, which could consume as much as 2 million bales more than the current estimate of 36 million bales. “Even the U.S., with its ‘declining’ textile industry, could see its annual consumption equal to that of 2003-04, or 300,000 (bales) more than the current USDA estimate,” he said.

Apart from watching annual double-digit increases in consumption, observers are expecting China’s cotton acreage to decline in 2005, though its textile industry continues to expand. Cleveland said much of the gain in Chinese consumption will come not from exporting textiles, but from a growing domestic textile market.

“The decline in Chinese acreage will ensure that China must continue as the world’s leading importer,” he said. “(China) will likely import as much as 14 million bales in 2005-06. This level of demand will continue to support the current futures (market) above 40 cents.”

In addition, while low cotton prices have encouraged greater consumption, the falling value of the U.S. dollar against other world currencies also has contributed to the consumption increase over the past two months. The dollar has lost 30 to 40 percent of its purchasing power against other major world currencies. That has made cotton 30 to 40 percent cheaper in terms of other currencies, Cleveland said. “This has enhanced the foreign demand for U.S. cotton and will likely create additional demand,” he said. “Further, the skyrocketing price of polyester is generating additional shifts to cotton.”

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Loose Ends

December 6, 2004

A few leftovers to end the year ...

By Devin Steele

Cleaning out the notebook (not the desk, wishful thinkers) to close out another year while hoping for better tidings for this industry in 2005 — in spite of quota dropping and most other forces of the universe pulling against you.

Retired American Dornier exec returns to old haunts

A familiar face throughout much of “Textile Country” returned to his old haunts this fall. Hans Geiger attended two days of the American Textile Machinery Exhibition-International (ATME-I) trade show in Greenville, SC, where he saw many of the friends he made in his 45 years as president of Lindauer Dornier GmbH’s U.S. subsidiary, American Dornier, Inc., Charlotte, NC. Retired and living in his native Germany, the 69-year-old Geiger was his typical smiling, jovial self in the Dornier booth. There, he gave us a few minutes to catch up.

At ATME-I, retired American Dornier President Hans Geiger said, “you can take a picture under one condition: that you write, ‘This fellow wants to buy one machine for his garage.’ ”

A transatlantic commuter who throughout his tenure with Dornier never moved his family to the States, he said the chance to return to the U.S. — and its biggest textile machinery show — was too good to pass up.

“I had to burn up a few of these frequent flier miles, which I accumulated over the years,” he said. “I knew coming to the ATME-I would be a unique opportunity to shake a lot of hands and renew old friendships I made over the years.”

Since retiring from the weaving machine manufacturer in December 2001, Geiger said he hasn’t spent much time in the rocking chair. In August, he and his wife took a rather adventurous excursion, beginning in Moscow, where they saw the Russian sights before boarding a train to Siberia, then Mongolia. There, they drove a four-wheel drive vehicle through the Gobi Desert, where they rode camels and climbed mountains.

From there, they continued on a train to the Mongolia capital of Ulan Bator, then to the Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai, where he visited Dornier’s Asian operations.

At the pedestrian mall in Shanghai, Geiger said he couldn’t resist popping into the fabric shop, where rolls and rolls of cloth were displayed for sale. Being an old-time textile machinery technician by trade, he said he spent a fair amount of time examining the fabric to determine how it was woven.

“By my rough estimate, I was surprised that between 10 to 15 percent was woven from shuttleless looms, and the rest of it was still woven with shuttle looms,” Geiger said. “I looked at the quality and the patterns. They were fine patterns — nice, beautiful.”

At ATME-I, Geiger said he was surprised that only two weaving machine manufacturers had chosen to exhibit, even given the downturn of the U.S. market. But he wasn’t surprised that Dornier was there, he added.

“(Owner) Peter Dornier knew the company had to show a commitment to this market,” said Geiger, who said he still keeps up with news of the industry around the world. “We have had such a good run over 25 years or more in the American market. The company maintains its people and spare parts in Charlotte and is prepared for the future, so when business picks up Dornier will have the stocks and the manpower ready.”

Reminiscing about his career, Geiger said he was blessed to have been a part of the American textile industry for so long. “I was so fortunate to come into this country during a time when the demand was great for new technology, when we were replacing the old-fashioned shuttle looms,” he said. “At that time we were just at the beginning of new rapier technology. American mills gave us feedback and helped us improve these new technologies.”

When he left the show, Geiger returned to the Charlotte area to “trample on the old stomping grounds.”

Glen Raven focuses on future, U.S. manufacturing

One textile producer doing the right things to ensure its future is Glen Raven, Inc. As reported in our December 6 edition, the fabric maker showed many of its products and innovations at the recent Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) Expo in Pittsburgh.

The Glen Raven Custom Fabrics LLC division of Glen Raven, with the well-established Sunbrella® brand, showed a number of fabrics it has developed for other applications. A longtime manufacturer of fabrics for the marine and awnings markets, the company is producing solution-dyed acrylic, olefin, polyester and blended woven fabrics for interior applications such as residential and boat interiors.

Allen Gant Jr., president of the Glen Raven, NC-based company, said its strategy is consumer driven. “If we have something the consumer wants, then we’ll be successful,” he said. “If we have something the consumer doesn’t want, then it doesn’t matter what the price is or anything else, we won’t be successful.”

Manufacturing in the United States is an important part of that strategy, Gant added. “These innovative people brought us to the table and we’re working very, very hard to make sure that every single job at Glen Raven is protected,” he said.

He then waxed philosophic about the need for domestic manufacturing. “There’s an interesting thing about the United States that’s different from any other country in the world,” he said. “We have such a diverse population. When you go to China, you know what Chinese people look like. If you go to Japan, you know what Japanese people look like. But tell me what an American looks like? It’s of every description. That diversity gives you a lot of innovation. And so we are making sure that we’re going after markets that the consumer will understand, and also those markets that appreciate innovation and demand innovation on a very short-time delivery cycle. So we’re able to turn our innovation loose on those markets. And by doing so our people will continue to have jobs and continue to have opportunities and employment. And, I’ll tell you, it’s working. Our company is growing again.”

The world is in the midst of what Gant called the largest technical industrial revolution ever, and with that comes opportunities. “If we can pluck out just one or two opportunities, then we’ll be successful,” he said.

Gant, as chairman of the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), is working hard to also ensure the viability of his American textile brethren. He helped found the association that merged the American Textile Manufacturers Institute and the American Yarn Spinners Association. In its first year of existence, the NCTO has been busy trying to make a difference in the course of global manufacturing history.

“I think NCTO is doing a huge job in trying to help the world understand that the rules of the game must change,” Gant said. “I just hope the industry has the strength and courage to understand the changes that have to be made and then make those changes inside their companies as well as in the industry.

“With quotas coming down on Jan. 1, it’s going to present yet another hurdle for the textile industry to jump over,” he added. “And only those companies that have the ability to see the future, understand the consumer and bring products and services to the consumer that they appreciate, want and demand will be the ones that will make it. And those companies that don’t have the capacity to see that and are going to be dealing with commodities, then you have to have the lowest cost basis — and probably that’s not going to be feasible in the United States.”

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