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From The Editor
James M. Borneman, Editor In Chief

US Textiles: Determined To Succeed

By James M. Borneman, Editor In Chief

I t is great to hear the message of optimism and determination shared by textile industry leaders in the Executive Roundtable featured in this issue of Textile World . Thanks to those who took the time to speak with Contributing Editor Jim Phillips, the recurring themes of challenge and opportunity facing the US industry — as well as a determined commitment to success — come through loud and clear.

Often the very nature of news tends to be negative. Even in TW ’s weekly e-newsletter, the most-read stories tend to be of plant closings and bankruptcies. And TW still, unfortunately, has some of those stories today, but Phillips’ peek inside the industry shows the bigger, healthier picture of an industry transforming its role in the global economy.

US textiles continues to face an extremely — whether fairly or unfairly — competitive global marketplace.

If you really listen to what successful companies are saying, you’ll hear they are continuously looking for and finding their unique way to compete. Often it isn’t the traditional way. Success seems to be linked to shifting customer demands, meaning significant change is an integral part of the day-to-day business environment.

There is a strong theme of investment, a theme of global expansion, a theme of concern about sustainable, renewable resources. Limited access to capital for many companies makes investment, growth and acquisition an extremely creative process. In an ITMA year, with an expensive euro, maybe more creative than ever.

Trade issues continue to cause shifts in business strategies and demand vigilant work by NCTO and its member companies. It is striking how many CEOs have a significant knowledge of trade policy, law and the intricacies of trade legislation. The days are gone of being strictly for or against trade agreements. Today’s CEOs understand the nuances of an agreement as well as its effect on existing agreements. For instance, NCTO raised the question of a new agreement with Korea, but also the effect on existing agreements and trade flows linked to NAFTA, CAFTA-DR and the Andean agreement. To see this in action, have a look at National Spinning CEO Jim Chesnutt’s comments. Here is a company that is on solid footing, has invested in Central America — one of the primary incentives for CAFTA-DR — and now is forced to look over its shoulder with concern for the overall success of the region as it might be impacted by an agreement between the United States and Korea. A far cry from focusing on making string and knitting sweaters.

Stories of innovation, product development and speed to market continue to draw attention. With ITMA fast approaching, the current tone of the industry bodes well for the exploration of new technologies and processes.

As Phillips writes with regard to the executives surveyed, “They may get knocked on their heels from time to time, but they get up fighting and more determined than ever to make the US textile industry a global force for the future.”

July/August 2007



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