Archive for April, 2015

CUSTOMERS WANT TO KNOW

Textile industry executives and marketing specialists at the recent gathering of the Synthetic Yarn and Fiber Association (SYFA) were advised that transparency” and sustainability are driving sales in the current environment.

As science becomes the driving force in textiles—including hosiery—manufacturers will be pressured to undertake new initiatives such as Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) to disclose chemicals and processes integrated in production. The customer wants to know, speakers advised.

Among the speakers was Shelly Martin, sustainability analyst and training manager for Earthshift, who produced a cycle leading from evaluating ideas, refining concepts and pursuing opportunities in the roll out of products. The LCA follows with the goal of “reaching the millenials who want transparency in the benefits and features of the product.

A similar message came from James Ewell, sustainable materials program director for GreenBlue.The demand for transparency comes from consumers who want more information about the products they buy. With associations and coalitions involved in the response, there is a “confusing landscape” for manufacturers, Ewell asserted.

MARCH OF THE ROBOTS

Yes, apparel and textiles manufacturing is returning to the United States. But manufacturers are operating in a climate much different from that 15 years ago when so much production moved offshore. An aging workforce, demand for customization, rising wages, skyrocketing costs: enter the robots.

William Lockhart, senior vice president of Softwear Automation, told the SYFA audience in Charlotte this month that robotics are entering businesses of all sizes, especially cut-and-sew apparel plants. Companies such as Softwear Automation are available to design and set up robotic operations for specific tasks. Lockhart discussed examples of problems solved with robotic operations resulting in less waste and more efficiency. He noted a major benefit as well: work 24 hours, seven days a week and no overtime.

SHIFTING SANDS OF N.C. TAXES

North Carolina legislators are hearing from their constituents about taxes and a flurry of new bills have been introduced to mend relations. But in any case, it appears the consumers will be paying more—through higher sales taxes or less exemptions. Two initiatives are driving the movement—eliminating or reducing point-of-sale sales taxes and redistribution to rural areas, and reaction to higher state income taxes paid by middle class families as a result of lost exemptions.

Appropriations and finance committees in the House and Senate have not addressed budget issues yet, waiting for April tax collection figures.

KUMBAYA MOMENT FOR HOSIERY MANUFACTURING

RING IN THE NEW: Ettore Lonati, left, rings the bell that symbolizes the start of a new era for hosiery manufacturing.Also seen, second from left:Darrell Frye, vice president Harriss and Covington Hosiery Co.; Conover Mayor Lee Moritz;Dan St. Louis, director of the Manufacturing Solutions Center.

IT’S TIME:Darrell Frye, chairman of the Hosiery and Textiles Governmental Affairs Council, gives opening remarks at the Lonati equipment show.Frye said it is time for the U.S. hosiery industry to prepare for the resurgence in manufacturing.From right:Conover Mayor Lee Moritz, MSC Director Dan St. Louis, and Lonati Sp.Apresident Ettore Lonati.

CHECKING NEW TECHNOLOGY: Representatives from hosiery companies traveled to the MSC during a three-day period to learn about the newest 21st century technology in knitting.Some of the sheer products produced in one piece are displayed around the DONNA 440 needle machine. One North Carolina manufacturer placed a $3 million order for the machines that sell for up to $40,000.


Scores of hosiery manufacturers and yarn company notables assembled at the Manufacturing Solutions Center Wednesday, April 8, for the rollout of state-of-the-knitting equipment by Lonati Spa. Not since the late 1990s had such an event been staged for the U.S. hosiery producers. Ettore Lonati, president, took not of the significance. The upswing in orders from American mills began two years ago with the re-emergence of demand for American-made products.

One North Carolina mill acknowledged placing a $3 million order for GOAL/GL sock knitting machine with a separate device for complete toe closing. The single-cylinder two-feed machines for making solid or patterned socks or pantyhose, is electronically programmed for memory storage of several styles with eight sizes each. PAM Trading Co. of Greensboro is the authorized distributor for the GOAL.

In adjacent areas Lonati had set up the DONNA Laop fine gauge machine for manufactuers of shee products—pantyhose, tights, medical apparel, and other specialty items. The single-cylinder four-feeds or two-feeds machine can produce pouches in reciprocal motion and it, too, has extensive memory for styles, sizes, and patterns. Henderson Machinery Co. President Bobby Irvin said the diversity of the machine was opening new markets for sheer manufacturers.

The new Lonati machines are fueling a new high-tech era for the industry. Fewer, highly-skilled, personnel are doubling production in a 24-hour period when compared to the output of mills prior to the downsizing resulting from global competition.

Darrell Frye, vice president of Harriss and Covington Hosiery Co. and chairman of the Hosiery and Textiles Governmental Affairs Council described a new American hosiery industry that is positioned for a strong, profitable future, thanks to the support of the Manufacturing Solutions Center. His words were echoed for Conover Mayor Lee Moritz who was a vice president for sales at Moretz Inc. which later became Moretz/Gold Toe. Moritz said he encouraged Conover to raise $3 million from state and federal sources to build the MSC, confident the industry would make a comeback.

TRAINING, TRAINING, TRAINING

Rick Small, director of training for the Manufacturing Solutions Center was catching up on the technology of the new Lonati line. Small said he is booked through August. Dan St. Louis said the training program will be expanded, using funds appropriated last year by the General Assembly. North Carolina mills need at least 200 technicians, the MSC estimates.

BACK WITH A FULL PLATE

The N.C. Legislators were back on the job this week after a “Spring Break.” No committees met and only a ceremonial Senate session was held last week. The intense work schedule now is fueled by the approaching April 30 cross-over deadline. Any bill that is not heard in either a House or Senate committee by that date is banished to Never-Never Land. The exception is appropriations and the budget. However tax reform measures must be heard in the next two weeks, including the bill that implements a single sales tax formula for manufacturing corporate taxes.

The survey sent our by the HTGAC included a response by a Gaston County mill that would save $300,000 a year with the simplified system. Redistribution of sales taxes to rural counties as the expense of urban centers also faces a fiery debate and uncertain future.

COMING IN JUNE

A meeting for members and prospective members of the Hosiery and Textiles Governmental Affairs Council is planned for mid-June. The leadership of the Council hopes to learn what the members are seeking in addition to the services. The Council is dedicated to the financial support for the MSC and the Textile Technology Center. This year, the council is working with the Senate on corporate tax reform.

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