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Moirushes Product Development

North Carolina printer/finisher innovates to keep competitive edge.

 The U.S. textile industry was built upon the initiative of entrepreneurs those unusual people who have both the vision and the drive to conceive a dream and then doggedly pursue the most minute details day after day to make that dream a reality.Today, there is an emerging trend to return to the entrepreneurial spirit that built the textile/apparel/fiber complex into the single largest contributor to the Gross Domestic Product of the United States. Parkdale is doing it. Unifi is doing it as are Burlington, Milliken, Sara Lee and others.But, not enough attention is paid to the efforts and struggles of the smaller companies those that, considered alone, count for only a small portion of textile production, but, when taken as a whole, constitute a considerable portion of U.S. textile production.This is the story of one of those companies. Moirorporation of America, with sales offices in New York City and manufacturing operations in Shelby, N.C., is one of the paradoxes that seem to be common in the textile industry. A small company sales are likely in the $5 million range Moirs, nevertheless, the largest contract finisher in the United States of moirnd embossed fabrics, according to John Salazar, vice president and general manager. The company produces a host of finishes for a variety of markets, including automotive, upholstery and apparel. Taking InitiativesIn Moir case, the particulars of the manufacturing process arent as important as the philosophy that drives the company. With relatively modest annual sales, the company does not have the capital for the major investments that make headlines in the industry trade press. Moirecently added a wide heat-transfer printer from STM of Spartanburg, S.C., which it runs with only a few modifications. We can process fabrics up to 120 inches wide on the STM machine, Salazar said. Its one of the widest machines available on the market.Transfer printing, according to STM, was developed more than 30 years ago in France. The advantage is that dyes could be developed to pass directly from a solid to a gaseous state when brought to temperatures above 390°F.Another heat-transfer printer, this one for narrow fabrics, is manufactured by Gessner. Web-guiding and tension-control devices are provided by Bianco and Erhardt+Leimer.Other than the STM and Gessner machines, though, it would be difficult for a textile manufacturing executive to recognize what serves as the core of the plants manufacturing capability. Many of the machines are old and, seemingly outdated. Yet they run at surprising speed and produce finishes Salazar claims his customers hail as second to none. So what is the companys secret 
Weve modified most of our production machinery ourselves, Salazar said. We had something specific we wanted to accomplish, and we have created the production capability by analyzing our equipment and then making it do whatever is necessary. He wouldnt reveal specific modifications. That is what, at this point, sets us apart from our competitors. It is the fact that we can do things they cant.That doing things others cant or wont is the point of difference Moirses to develop new business, an increasingly difficult endeavor for a company beleaguered by an increasing number of finishers outside of the United States.Despite the U.S. governments optimism about trade agreements, Moirs a company NAFTA and CBI have failed. The company relies upon the quality of its products and its reputation for efficient service and on-time delivery to maintain a customer base that has more and more low-cost options from other countries.We dont have the luxury of developing new products and then becoming complacent, Salazar said. What we hope to do is to develop new finishes for our customers and then ride that success for a year or two while we concentrate on developing more innovative processes. Generally, what happens to us is we develop a product that becomes highly successful in the market, and then it is copied by another company, which then takes the process to Mexico or off-shore and produces the same look for a fraction of the price. We are seeing more and more finished fabric from Mexico, and it is to the detriment of both our industry and, ultimately, the consumer.Salazar points to glitter, a recent finish developed by Moirhat gained ready acceptance among U.S. retailers. Soon the same finish was appearing from finishers from other countries. The difference is that our glitter stays on, he said. We took the time and spent the effort to develop the process properly. If Moirs going to bring a process to market, our customers can rest assured that it will be absolute top quality. Yet, now, I go into stores and see glitter finishes that look much like ours. But, the garment is still on the sales rack and the glitter printing is falling off. I get quite vocal about it. I ask the retailers why they would even consider such a finish, especially when they can get a quality glitter product from us. The answer is always the same. They say, I will buy it from you when you can sell it to me at this price. It is frustrating. I cant make it for that same low price, but I can provide a finish that the ultimate customer will be a lot happier with."Low-cost labor is a sore point with Salazar, and not just because of the advantage it gives his foreign competitors. This company was founded by the Thomases family. Bob Thomases, the son of the founder, is the CEO. We are a small company and our entire company is like a family. It is our mission to provide a good living and a good atmosphere for our employees. So, all of this foreign competition, it not only makes my business more difficult, it threatens the livelihoods of our employees and they are like family to us.Because of these factors, Salazar said Moirpends a great amount of time and resources on developing new ideas. That is a major focus for our company. Our business is adding value to our customers products. We look every day for new ways to enhance value for our customers and, ultimately, for their customers. Focus On Added ValueEssentially, the company adds value to products by printing or by adding heat and pressure to create designs and effects. Among the processes performed at Moirre:Moir bar and random on Bengalines and taffetas for all markets.Embossing Moiras the largest library of embossing designs in the United States. Cir This process creates a polished effect on wovens, knits and stretch fabrics.Heat-transfer printing with the STM machine, Moiran print fabrics in widths of up to 120 inches.Glitter printing Moiran glitter-print standard or customized designs for the apparel, costume and packaging markets.Deluster printing Used primarily for intimate apparel; adds a flat design to high-luster fabrics. These products are moldable and can withstand multiple washings.Crashing Gives a wrinkled appearance in wovens and knits up to 100 inches. Targeted primarily to womens apparel and home fashions markets. R and D Begets Diversified FabricsBecause of the companys extensive experience in research and development, as well as its substantial control over the manufacturing process, Moirill work with just about any fabric on the market, Salazar said. 
A lot of people in our business shy away from knits, because tension is such a critical element, he said. We have developed a process so that the tension is both correct and constant. With knits, the challenge is keeping tension loose enough to prevent distortion. We have revamped some equipment to give us that capability with a high degree of control. With woven fabrics, the challenge is just the opposite. Were always looking for ways to get more tension.The real challenge we have is that we have more than 200 customers, and each one has a different fabric. We are, essentially, at the mercy of who prepares the goods. Every fabric reacts differently, and we dont know what to expect from day to day. Thats where our expertise comes into play. We have to be knowledgeable, flexible and adaptable.Moirounts among its customers such textile and apparel giants as Cone Mills, Guilford Mills and Sara Lee. For Cone, Moirdds finishes and effects for denim; for Guilford, the company processes knitted fabrics; and for Sara Lee, Moirerforms a great deal of deluster printing for brassieres and other intimate apparel.A recent project, which Moirs working on with CollinsandAikman, will result in custom headliners for Ford vehicles, Salazar said.Moirorporation employs approximately 50 people in its 120,000 square-foot manufacturing plant just outside of downtown Shelby. The facility is about 80 percent utilized, with the remainder in reserve for future expansion. As well, the company maintains a sales office in New York Citys garment district.Our mission for the future is to continue to innovate and provide our customers with added value they can get from no other supplier. The only solution for us is to stay abreast of the fashion trends and anticipate what our customers will need. Thats the kind of research we do here at Moirorporation of America every day.The company was founded in Fairlawn, N.J, in 1963. Manufacturing was moved to Shelby in 1995.

May 2001