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From The Editor
James M. Borneman, Editor In Chief

Quiet Optimism In The Face Of Change

James M. Borneman, Editor In Chief

A s 2005 draws to a close, there is plenty of fight left in an industry that was counted out as the year began. Sure, business is a tremendous challenge, but the search for relevance continues. For many, relevance isn’t enough — the future is in innovation — in making the bold moves necessary to carve out a future in US textiles.

As trade battles continue to frustrate China’s march into manufacturing dominance, how is the US industry dealing with change? Its future involves making difficult decisions, changing how business is done, learning the importance of marketing in conjunction with selling and dealing with the cold reality of globalism by implementing a rational plan for the future.

Change is the most difficult aspect of running a successful business. Realizing that what you did, what you made and who you sold it to yesterday will be different today and tomorrow creates an uncertainty that was not common in the industry five years ago.

If you are a CEO or general manager and your sales manager says, “I know all of our customers,” fire him or her before it is too late. In today’s marketplace, “I know all of my customers” are the words of a dying company. Generating new business, new opportunities and new customers is the only way to truly embrace change and build the future of the industry. Cast a broad net. Relearn marketing. Look for partners and new businesses — many of which were set aside in better days, or in the days when volume ruled.

In 2005, Textile World had the privilege of profiling some great companies in the United States and abroad. Their success stories had many common threads: They have great technology; they put people first; and they are on a constant quest for new — new products, new processes, new customers, new business segments and new alliances.

This year’s Textile World Innovation Award winner — Glen Raven Inc.— is a shining example of that energy, of the ability to embrace change and use it to energize an entire company. Talking with Glen Raven associates is one of the most upbeat things a textile person can do — they aren’t cheerleaders, but they have a keen sense that change is necessary, and each wants to be a part of it. They aren’t blind to the perils of the US textile industry, but they want to contribute the spark — to have the idea that makes the company successful. What a recipe for success — put every member of your company on alert to search for the next big thing, and create a management team that embraces change.

Looking back over past Innovation Award winners, there has been no shortage of amazing companies in the US textile industry. Is the doom and gloom still out there? Absolutely. But many companies have given up on moaning — they know their businesses must change. The textile industry can thrive by developing a quiet optimism in the face of change. If it is genuine, it will mean a bright future for textiles in this country.

November/December 2005