NCTO President & CEO Kim Glas Testifies at U.S. International Trade Commission Hearing on Challenges Related to U.S. PPE Production

WASHINGTON, DC –The U.S. International Trade Commission held a public hearing on September 23-24 as part of its investigation of conditions impacting U.S. industry sectors and supply chains in the production of medical goods related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) President & CEO Kim Glas is testifying on panel 5 today, the hearing’s second day.

“Amid the devastating challenges of responding to COVID-19, NCTO members have been at the forefront of deploying manufacturing resources to address the critical need for personal protective equipment (PPE),” Glas said in testimony prepared for delivery.  “Our members quickly mobilized, proactively retooling production lines and retraining workers to provide U.S.-made PPE to frontline medical workers.”

“Despite these heroic efforts to confront the ongoing crisis, the onshoring of a permanent PPE industry will only materialize if proper government policies are implemented to incentivize the long-term investment needed to sustain PPE production in the United States,” Glas said.

Glas’ testimony as prepared for delivery can be found here.

 

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NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers, including artificial and synthetic filament and fiber producers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 594,147 in 2018.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $76.8 billion in 2018.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $30.1 billion in 2018.
  • Capital expenditures for textile and apparel production totaled $2.0 billion in 2017, the last year for which data is available.

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CONTACT: Kristi Ellis

(202) 684-3091

www.ncto.org

NCTO Launches Video Campaign Showcasing Textile Industry Response to PPE Crisis

WASHINGTON—The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), representing the full spectrum of U.S. textiles, from fiber through finished sewn products, launched a paid social media video campaign today, highlighting the extraordinary efforts the industry has taken to respond to the shortages of lifesaving personal protective equipment (PPE) spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“NCTO is launching a social media and email campaign today to show members of Congress how this industry has significantly contributed to the nation’s PPE crisis, while demonstrating the importance of immediate policies and legislation, such as Buy American mandates, to establish a sustainable domestic supply chain for the future,” said NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas.

“Our campaign underscores the importance of ending our over reliance on China for PPE and calls on Congress to craft policies that support domestic procurement requirements and the onshoring of jobs,” Glas added. “It is high time we had a national strategic plan in place to spur investment in the industry and ensure our country has a permanent domestic PPE supply chain to confront the next pandemic our country faces.”

To view the video, textile worker profiles and Call to Action for members of Congress, and their staff, and manufacturers and employees, please click here.

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NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers, including artificial and synthetic filament and fiber producers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 585,240 in 2019.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $75.8 billion in 2019.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $29.1 billion in 2019.
  • Capital expenditures for textile and apparel production totaled $2.5 billion in 2018, the last year for which data is available.

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CONTACT:

Kristi Ellis

Vice President, Communications

National Council of Textile Organizations

kellis@ncto.org  |  202.684.3091

NCTO Sends Letter to Lead House & Senate Committee Members in Support of Congressional Action Addressing Forced Labor in China

WASHINGTON—The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), representing the full spectrum of U.S. textiles, from fiber though finished sewn products, sent a letter to the chairs and ranking members of the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee today, in support of congressional efforts to address China’s use of forced labor.

The House Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Trade is holding a hearing today at noon on this important issue.

NCTO sent the letter to House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and Ranking member Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Senate Finance Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

See the full letter here.

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NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers, including artificial and synthetic filament and fiber producers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 585,240 in 2019.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $75.8 billion in 2019.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $29.1 billion in 2019.
  • Capital expenditures for textile and apparel production totaled $2.5 billion in 2018, the last year for which data is available.

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Kristi Ellis

Vice President, Communications

National Council of Textile Organizations

kellis@ncto.org  |  202.684.3091

 

National Council of Textile Organizations and National Cotton Council Send Letter to Lead House & Senate Committee Members in Support of CBTPA

WASHINGTON—The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) and National Cotton Council (NCC)  sent a letter today to the chairs and ranking members of two key congressional committees today, voicing support for a timely  extension of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), which expires on Sept. 30.  The House Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Trade is holding a hearing on Thursday at 2:00 PM on this important trade preference program.

The CBTPA has provided a structured system of textile and apparel duty preferences for certain countries– most notably Haiti– since it was implemented in 2000. U.S. textile and cotton industries see significant benefits from the program, which has helped establish an export market for U.S.-grown cotton, U.S.-spun yarn and other textile materials of U.S. origin.

The U.S. content rule contained in CBTPA provides a mutual benefit to the U.S. industry and the Caribbean Basin region economies.

The associations’ support is contingent upon the trade program not being tied to other unrelated and harmful trade and tariff provisions as noted in their joint letter.

The NCTO and NCC sent the letter to House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and Ranking member Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Senate Finance Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

See the full letter here.

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NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers, including artificial and synthetic filament and fiber producers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 585,240 in 2019.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $75.8 billion in 2019.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $29.1 billion in 2019.
  • Capital expenditures for textile and apparel production totaled $2.5 billion in 2018, the last year for which data is available.

As the unifying force of the U.S. cotton industry, the Memphis-based National Cotton Council has a mission of ensuring the ability of all industry segments to compete effectively and profitably in the raw cotton, oilseed and U.S.-manufactured product markets at home and abroad.

 

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PRESS CONTACTS:

National Council of Textile Organizations

Kristi Ellis

kellis@ncto.org  |  202.684.3091

 

National Cotton Council

Marjory L. Walker

mwalker@cotton.org (901) 274-9030

 

 

NCTO President & CEO Kim Glas Testifies at House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Hearing on COVID-19 Crisis

WASHINGTON, DC – National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) President and CEO Kim Glas is testifying today at the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee hearing on “Manufacturing and Critical Supply Chains: Lessons From COVID-19.”

“While domestic textile manufacturers have undertaken heroic efforts to confront the ongoing crisis, the onshoring of a permanent PPE industry will only materialize if proper government policies and other actions are put in place to help domestic manufacturers survive the current economic crisis and to incentivize the long-term investment needed to fully bring PPE production back to the United States,” Glas said in testimony submitted to the subcommittee found here.

Glas outlined policy recommendations and concrete steps the government should take to address the long-term and short-term needs of frontline health care workers, patients and the general public.

“The time is ripe for a revival of American PPE textile manufacturing. It has already begun, but we are at a pivotal point. Without the necessary policy response and support, our recent progress will be undone just as quickly, and the China stranglehold over global medical textile supply will be locked in for the foreseeable future with no reason to invest here,” Glas said.

“The U.S. textile and apparel industry is ready, willing, and able to supply our country’s PPE needs now and for what lies ahead,” she added.

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NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers, including artificial and synthetic filament and fiber producers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 585,240 in 2019.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $75.8 billion in 2019.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $29.1 billion in 2019.
  • Capital expenditures for textile and apparel production totaled $2.5 billion in 2018, the last year for which data is available.

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CONTACT: Kristi Ellis

202.684.3091

www.ncto.org

INDUSTRY COALITION RELEASES STATEMENT ON PPE POLICY

WASHINGTON—An industry coalition representing the full spectrum of domestic personal protective equipment (PPE) production released a statement today outlining policy principles and objectives needed for reshoring and safeguarding domestic PPE manufacturing.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which exposed severe shortages in our nation’s PPE supply and an overreliance on foreign sourced products, underscores how important it is for the U.S. government to incentivize, support and maintain domestic manufacturing capacity for PPE.

Our association members, encompassing every segment of the U.S. textile, apparel and PPE supply chain, as well as unions representing workers, acted swiftly to convert manufacturing facilities and build supply chains virtually overnight to produce desperately needed PPE.

“We are united in our support of important principles that must be adopted in order to address our current public health needs and guarantee our nation is better prepared to respond to future emergencies,” the 21 associations said in the joint statement.

The associations are calling on Congress and the Trump administration to adopt principles outlined in the statement through legislation, executive order and other appropriate means.

See the full joint statement and principles here.

The statement was signed by the following organizations. Please see relevant contacts where provided:

  • AFL-CIO
  • Alliance for American Manufacturing
  • American Iron and Steel Institute
  • American Sheep Institute
  • Coalition for a Prosperous America
  • Georgia Association of Manufacturers
  • Hand Tools Institute
  • INDA: Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry
  • Narrow Fabrics Institute
  • National Cotton Council
  • National Council of Textile Organizations
  • Parachute Industry Association
  • Rhode Island Textile Innovation Network
  • SEAMS: Association of the U.S. Sewn Products Industry
  • SEIU
  • South Carolina Textile Council
  • U.S. Industrial Fabrics Institute
  • United States Footwear Manufacturers Association
  • United Steelworkers
  • Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition
  • Workers United/SEIU

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MAIN PRESS CONTACT:

NCTO

Kristi Ellis

(202) 684-3091

www.ncto.org

 

Coalition for a Prosperous America

Melissa Tallman, (202) 688-5145 ext. 3

National Cotton Council

Marjory L. Walker, (901) 274-9030

Rhode Island Textile Innovation Network

Michael M. Woody, (401) 331-8483

SEAMS: Association of the U.S. Sewn Products Industry

Will Duncan, (803) 642-1111

Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition

David Costello, (617) 875-2492

NCTO CONGRATULATES WILLIAM “BILL” McCRARY ON 50TH ANNIVERSARY AT WILLIAM BARNET & SON, LLC

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) is honored to congratulate Mr. William “Bill” V. McCrary Jr. on a significant tenure – celebrating 50 years of employment in the U.S. textile industry with William Barnet & Son, LLC, a synthetic fiber/yarn/polymer firm headquartered in Spartanburg, S.C. with plants and/or offices in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Bill McCrary joined William Barnet & Son, LLC on July 1, 1970. He now serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for the company, a position he has held since 2001.

“Bill McCrary is an outstanding leader in the textile industry – but, even more importantly, a wonderful human being.  Bill’s deep commitment to his company, employees and the entire community is a model for us all.  His strong voice advocating for manufacturing has benefited the entire industry and we are so very grateful for his outstanding service,” said NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas.

Throughout his career at Barnet, McCrary has also demonstrated strong leadership on behalf of the broader U.S. textile industry by serving as NCTO chairman from 2017-18, after having served as NCTO vice chairman the prior year. He also served for three years on NCTO’s Board of Directors before moving into his current role as an officer.

Former NCTO President and CEO Auggie Tantillo, who headed the organization during Mr. McCrary’s leadership, said the following: “Bill McCrary seamlessly stepped into the role of NCTO chairman and national leader of the U.S. textile industry. The power of his intellect and the persuasiveness of his personality were an invaluable asset to our industry and workforce on numerous policy matters. The entire U.S. textile sector owes him a great debt of gratitude for his effectiveness, professionalism and dedication to our industry.”

Mr. McCrary’s career includes leadership positions with various other industry associations, such as Chairman of the American Fiber Manufacturers Association and Chairman of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance. He is the 2016 recipient of the Roger Milliken Defender of Manufacturing Award, a member of the Palmetto Business Forum, and a graduate of Duke University. McCrary is a dedicated resident of Greenville, SC, where he has dedicated his time to numerous initiatives developed for the benefit of the community, including the institution of the McCrary Blood and Marrow Transplant Unit within the Greenville Hospital System and the Phase II expansion of Cancer Survivors Park.

NCTO congratulates and thanks William “Bill” McCrary on a long and productive career that has benefited not only his organization and community, but the U.S. textile industry on the whole.

 

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NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers, including artificial and synthetic filament and fiber producers.

 

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 585,240 in 2019.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $75.8 billion in 2019.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $29.1 billion in 2019.
  • Capital expenditures for textile and apparel production totaled $2.5 billion in 2018, the last year for which data is available.

 

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CONTACT: Rebecca Tantillo

202.822.8026

www.ncto.org

 

NCTO Announces Winner of the 2020 Paul T. O’Day Memorial Scholarship

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Council of Textile Organization’s (NCTO) Fiber Council announces Lauren Biggs of Charlotte, NC as the recipient of the 2020 Paul T. O’Day Scholarship Award.  She is the daughter of Sheila Price and Alexander Graham Biggs, III, who is employed by Unifi, Inc.

Ms. Biggs graduated in June with high honors from Myers Park High School.  She will attend the University of South Carolina entering the program for Computer Science this fall.  She is grateful to the NCTO Paul T. O’Day Scholarship Committee for choosing her as this year’s scholarship recipient stating, “Your generosity is truly humbling and greatly appreciated. Being awarded the Paul T. O’Day Scholarship will make a huge difference in my finances while I work to achieve my goal of becoming a creative problem solver, leader and innovator in the fiber industry just as Mr. O’Day was for so many years.  Thank you again for this honor.  I hope to one day give back to those who gave so much.”

NCTO Fiber Council Chairman David Poston, President of Palmetto Synthetics LLC, commented, “We are pleased to recognize Ms. Biggs’s record of achievements and passion for learning as we name her the 2020 recipient of our Paul T. O’Day Memorial Scholarship.  On behalf of the Fiber Council, we congratulate Ms. Biggs and wish her continued success in her academic career.”

The scholarship program was created in 2014 in honor of Paul T. O’Day who served as President of the American Fiber Manufacturers Association (AFMA) for more than three decades. The Association merged with the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) in April 2018, and NCTO’s Fiber Council now administers the scholarship program.  Recipients receive a $5,000 award each year, totaling $20,000 for four years of study.  Sons or daughters of NCTO’s Fiber Council member company employees are eligible to apply.

 

NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers, including artificial and synthetic filament and fiber producers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 585,240 in 2019.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $75.8 billion in 2019.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $29.1 billion in 2019.
  • Capital expenditures for textile and apparel production totaled $2.5 billion in 2018, the last year for which data is available.

# # #

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CONTACT: Kristi Ellis

(202) 684-3091

www.ncto.org

 

NCTO Elects South Carolina Yarn Manufacturing CEO as Chairman – Council Chairs & Board Members Elected

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), representing the full spectrum of U.S. textiles from fiber through finished sewn products, held its officer elections for fiscal year 2020 today.

In addition to the appointment of a new chairman and vice chairman, NCTO elected chairs for each of its four councils. NCTO is comprised of four councils to ensure a broad representation of the industry supply chain. Each council has an allotted number of members who are elected to the association’s Board of Directors, in addition to the Executive Committee.

“I am pleased to announce our new officers, council chairs, and board and executive committee members for NCTO’s 2020 fiscal year,” said NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas. “David Roberts (CEO of Cap Yarns) has been elected our new chairman and succeeds Leib Oehmig (CEO of Glen Raven Inc.), who did an outstanding job serving in the role for more than a year.”

“This is a critical juncture for our industry as we continue to navigate through an uncertain business environment this year. I could not be prouder of our industry, which has stepped up and retooled to produce critical personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic. With the support of our newly elected officers, NCTO will continue to work on behalf of its members to shape policies that will help our industry persevere and thrive. Through a dedicated association staff and a committed group of industry leaders, we will ensure that together we continue to have a seat at the table in Washington.”

 

Elected as NCTO Chairman and Vice Chairman for 2020 are:

  • Chairman – David Roberts, CEO of Cap Yarns, Inc.
    • Roberts is CEO of Cap Yarns, Inc., based in Clover, South Carolina. Cap Yarns is a specialty yarn manufacturer and a leader in developing unique yarns for the knitting and weaving industry.
  •  Vice Chairman – David Poston, President of Palmetto Synthetics LLC
    • Poston is President of Palmetto Synthetics, based in Kingstree, South Carolina. Palmetto Synthetics is a leading specialty synthetic fiber producer that has provided specialty thermoplastic fibers to companies across the globe.

 

Elected to the NCTO Board of Directors during the various Council meetings were the following:

Fiber Council – Lowell Bivens of PHP Fibers; John Freeman of Nan Ya Plastics America; Chuck Hall of William Barnet & Son; Rich Lemerise of The LYCRA Company; Alejandro Sanchez of DAK Americas; and Chip Stein of Stein Fibers

Yarn Council – Jim Booterbaugh of National Spinning Co.; Tom Caudle of Unifi; Charles Heilig of Parkdale Mills; Peter Iliopoulos of Gildan; Marty Moran of Buhler Quality Yarns Corporation; and Allen Smith of American & Efird

Fabric and Home Furnishings Council – Norman Chapman of Inman Mills; Kathie Leonard of Auburn Manufacturing; Chad McAllister of Milliken & Company; Leib Oehmig of Glen Raven, Inc.; Dirk Pieper of Sage Automotive Interiors; and Mike Shelton of Valdese Weavers

Industry Support Council – Cyril Guerin of Picanol; Ian Mills of Fi-Tech; and Gary Romanstine of Marzoli

 

Elected by their respective Councils to serve on the Executive Committee were:

Lowell Bivens of PHP Fibers; John Freeman of Nan Ya; Tom Caudle of Unifi; Peter Iliopoulos of Gildan; Norman Chapman of Inman Mills; Leib Oehmig of Glen Raven Inc.; and Ian Mills of Fi-Tech

 

Elected to chair the Councils:

Fiber Council: David Poston of Palmetto Synthetics

Yarn Council: Marty Moran of Buhler Quality Yarns Corporation

Fabric and Home Furnishings Council: Leib Oehmig of Glen Raven, Inc.

Industry Support Council: Ian Mills of Fi-Tech

 

NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers, including artificial and synthetic filament and fiber producers.

 

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 585,240 in 2019.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $75.8 billion in 2019.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $29.1 billion in 2019.
  • Capital expenditures for textile and apparel production totaled $2.5 billion in 2018, the last year for which data is available.

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CONTACT: Kristi Ellis

202.684.3091

www.ncto.org

 

 

 

 

Glen Raven and Trivantage Customers Making an Impact on PPE Production

American small businesses, entrepreneurs and inventors, driven by the desire to contribute to the greater good of the country, are stepping up to produce personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face shields and gowns, for frontline health care workers battling the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

On several fronts, the U.S. textile industry has united to play a critical role in the production of PPE products for the nation.

One North Carolina textile company, Glen Raven Inc., has become a major player behind the scenes, working with its customer base who traditionally cut and sew products such as awnings, tents, furniture and cushions– to scale up production of highly needed face shields and gowns.

The 140-year-old performance fabric manufacturer with six manufacturing facilities in North Carolina, South Carolina and Pennsylvania, along with 12 distribution facilities in 11 states, has stepped into the PPE game and is having a major impact.

Glen Raven has participated in discussions between hospital groups and health care organizations and its customers, while also organizing frequent calls to discuss bests practices, materials, suppliers, and the best ways to get the product to market.

Companies like Hoover Architectural Products in Florida, Chair Care Patio in Texas and Rainier Ltd. in Washington state are just a few of its customers that have tapped their talented workforce to innovate and create new designs for PPE products for their local hospitals, health care workers and communities.

“This effort has been a collective undertaking among all of Glen Raven’s business units. From day one, our entire company has been laser-focused on collaborating with organizations like the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), and healthcare systems across the country to help identify Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) needs.  The ultimate goal was to identify, engage and leverage the capabilities of our industry in an effort to supplement demand for critical PPE products,” said Bret Kelley, vice president of sales, Trivantage.  “Together we are more powerful, and through collaboration with healthcare agencies, hospitals, our customers, suppliers, and other groups we are able to make a greater impact. Through our collective efforts, we hope to help keep first responders, and front-line workers safe and assist our customers in putting people back to work.  We are hopeful this process will result in sustainable longer-term benefits for the healthcare industry and our industry by developing a more robust domestic supply base for PPE.”

While there are many stories, five Glen Raven/Trivantage customers have shared their stories and experiences below.

They have innovated and created new designs—often equal to or better than the medical products currently on the market– by finding new ways to use fabrics and materials traditionally used for outdoor and industrial applications. Their collective voices underscore the importance of maintaining and cultivating a domestic apparel, textile and industrial supply chain and minimizing the country’s reliance on foreign imports during a global crisis.

 

Chair Care Patio

For the past 32 years, Debby Martz’s company, Chair Care Patio, has carved a niche in patio furniture repair and custom cushion and pillow designs in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

“We started this business as a hobby in our garage in 1988,” Martz said. “We were repairing patio furniture with vinyl straps and over the years we took it from the garage to 30,000 square feet of space in Dallas. We started with one sewing machine making replacement slings for our local Dallas/Fort Worth customers and that grew and grew to patio shops buying wholesale from us and an online business of custom designed cushions, pillows and slings.”

But over the course of just one month, the COVID-19 pandemic has put her company– along with tens of thousands of other American small businesses– to the test

Instead of shuttering her business, Martz met the challenge head on.

First approached by a local hospital, Martz said she started making prototypes of face shields, and later protective gowns, to help frontline health care workers battling the spread of the disease.

She tapped into a diverse cushion fabric inventory and started experimenting with new fabrications for gowns while also using vinyl materials and foams for face shields.

PPE production in Chair Care Patio factory

Today, Martz is working through an order for 20,000 face shields from Baylor, Scott and White Hospital in Dallas, which has a network of 400 hospitals in north Texas.

Chair Care Patio is now turning out 1,500 protective gowns and 1,000 face shields a day to fulfill the order, she said.x

In the past month, Martz purchased 14 new three-needle and four-needle surgers and has also hired 10-12 new sewers to her existing workforce, while carefully considering expanding her business over the long term.

“We have proven we can make things in America with a high quality and at a reasonable price,” Martz said. “I think we need to source material and goods in the United States and bring it all back to the United States to manufacture products like this and not be so dependent on imports from other countries.”

It has been a gratifying experience to help hospitals and keep her current staff employed, while adding new employees to the staff, she said.

“I think we need to get back to that manufacturing base of sewing and manufacturing because we can,” she noted. “We figured it out because we were forced to figure it out.”

 

Hoover Architectural Products

Hoover Architectural Products, a leading metal and fabric awnings manufacturer  founded in 1949, with locations in Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has made fabric awnings for the past 71 years and recently diversified into metal and other products for its customers.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Hoover had 44 employees but like so many other companies, it has had to lay off part of its workforce, said Matt Carroll, a third- generation owner.

The company’s traditional customer base ranges from general contractors to government and defense contractors as well as commercial customers such as The Cheesecake Factory, as well as residential, hotels, restaurants, resorts and shopping plazas.

Carroll said he was watching television with his son and heard about the need for face shields. His son, who told him he could make the face shields, was the initial catalyst behind his move into producing the PPE product.

Face shield production at Hoover Architectural Products

An inventor at heart—Carroll has a patented product set to hit the market later this year known as Wiper Fill, which filters rain water, turns it into wiper fluid or antifreeze, and deposits it into an vehicle’s wiper fluid tanks—he reached out to Kelley at Trivantage and heard about other fabricators who were starting to make face shields.

In just two short days, he had come up with the prototype and design that he is making now—a flexible, face shield with foam cushion that rolls up into a two-inch diameter tube. Putting his inventor instinct to work, Carroll utilized marine and awning grade clear vinyl that is scratch resistant and cleanable, foam cushions and Velcro brand straps.

“I was talking to nurses who said every time they turned their heads, the traditional face shields they use would hit their shoulder and fall off because of the hard plastic rigidity to them,” he said.

Carroll said he has the capacity to make 7,500 to 10,000 face shields a day and has currently made about 2,000 for local contractors and a medical health care facility, as well as orders for single-use by private companies.

He is also bidding on very large contracts of between 300,000 to 800,000 units and working with local hospital systems.

“As far as my philosophy of working through this time, we have given away more shields than we have sold, because there is so much red tape [on securing orders],” he said. “It is more important to me to be a good partner within our community than to make money. I do want to keep my employees busy and make sure they have a paycheck but it is as equally important to take care of our community.”

Carroll said collaboration with other fabricators and Trivantage has been important. The companies have shared designs, raw material suppliers and even cutting templates in the spirit of providing first responders with critical supplies.

The supply chain of fabricators with cut and sew operations in the U.S. is extensive.  They can be competitive on pricing and provide much needed supply, he said.

“If anything, this is going to teach us a good lesson to be a little more prepared,” he noted. “Build a stockpile, yes, but also be better prepared; know who the manufacturers are; have them pre-certified and screened and they will be able to flip a switch and go. It is critical for our nation’s security.”

Carroll echoed the sentiment of other American small business owners—that it is critical to maintain and prepare the country’s domestic supply chain for future threats.

“If we can’t take care of our own needs, then we’re not as strong as we could be as a nation,” he said. “Buying U.S. products from manufacturers that are local, sourcing local is important. It doesn’t make sense, in my opinion, for California state to be buying from a company in Florida when there are numerous local manufacturers.”

 

Rainier Industries Ltd.

Rainier Industries is an historic Seattle, Washington-based tent, awning and graphics company that has been producing products in the Pacific Northwest since 1896.

The company has three divisions—shelter, shade and display, including commercial and residential awnings, tents and industrial sewn products and a graphics print business.

Scott Campbell, president of Rainier Industries

Employing 250 people when operating at full capacity, Rainier has two plants in the Seattle area, as well as an assembly plant in North Carolina.

Scott Campbell, president of Rainier, said his existing tent and shelter business has been in high demand during the crisis, particularly for use as temporary shelters in the emergency hospital space.

Although the demand has also been high for sewn masks, Campbell said he could not take on additional business because his fabrics business is at full capacity due to the demand for emergency tent products.

But he jumped at the opportunity to develop prototypes for face shields and has been part of the shared discussions and collaboration involving fabricators, hospital systems, Glen Raven and Trivantage.

Companies worked on their own proprietary designs for face shields with different cost structures and designs, found ways to collaborate on suppliers and designs and taking the product to market.

“I really appreciate Bret, Trivantage and Glen Raven collaborating with us in taking face shields to market,” he said.

Rainier has sold 20,000 units of the clear vinyl face shields. The company’s largest customer to date has been the Department of General Services, Procurement division for the state of California, and it also selling the face shields to local hospitals.

“The demand is so high for face shields and they are primarily disposable at a low price point,” he said. “We are not making any money but we are keeping our people employed.”

Rainier is also launching a web-based store to sell its face shields but Campbell said he is uncertain whether this will develop into a long-term business for the company.

“We don’t want to get too deep into this and end up with a lot of inventory,” he said, echoing concerns shared by small business owners across the country.

Small business owners are facing serious challenges, including furloughing workers until business picks up, keeping on as many employees as possible, and developing PPE prototypes for products such as face shields, that have never been a part of their business plans.

“In general, there is no clear path in front of us. If business is shut down too long, the economic damage accelerates but if we bring them back too soon, you have health issues to worry about,” he said. “It is really difficult to do business planning and forecasting with a huge variety of unknowns.”

The silver lining, he said, has been developing new products, such as the face shield, which has generated healthy competition among his employees and could still evolve into a new business opportunity.

 

CCP Manufacturing

CCP Manufacturing is a custom manufacturer of canvas and vinyl products, providing contract sewing services for a variety of industries, including the athletics, medical, industrial, military and transportation areas.

Founded in 1965, the company has grown and diversified and has existing production in the medical field with its healthcare products line, which incorporates high-quality antimicrobial fabrics.

Jan Kellogg, president and owner of CCP Manufacturing

Face shields were not part of the company’s production line until COVID-19 hit but the company has an existing medical production line, said Jan Kellogg, president of CCP and a third-generation owner.

Tapping into her medical products, which includes a line of radiology straps for hospitals, Kellogg said she has used sewing capacity and materials to fabricate the face shields.

“We also took materials that we might use for windows—clear vinyl for curtain walls—and used them for the shield,” she said. “We have elastic that we use for the medical products that we manufacture and we utilized that as well.”

She estimates the company is now producing between 4,000 to 5,000 face shields per week for local hospitals and office groups in Ohio.

“We are doing this for two reasons: 1. To help people who need them and 2. To give our employees continued employment and a meaningful task at the same time,” she said.

Kellogg said it is easier to get the face shields into the hands of people locally, who are quick to make a decision to purchase.

Her response to healthcare groups and hospital associations who are looking for much larger quantities, is to let them know she is capable of supplying a portion of an order and works to see how her company can be part of the solution.

“We are very happy to be part of that whole process,” she said. “It revolves around innovation and openness to how to come to a solution for this new and different problem that we have never faced before.”

Kellogg has weathered economic downturns in the past, particularly the housing crisis of 2008 and 2009 that led to the Great Recession.

Her philosophy: “You come up with ideas like we did today and you move forward—and take care of your people.”

 

J Miller Canvas LLC 

For the past 25 years, J Miller Canvas LLC/Inc. in Santa Ana, California has manufactured architectural fabric structures, including tension umbrellas and retractable restaurant canopies; but the swift impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. economy has turned the company into manufacturers of PPE face shields overnight.

Dan Neill, principal of J Miller Canvas, said he bought the company with his business partner nearly two years ago.  The company works with developers and architects and manufactures architectural fabric structures for a variety of commercial market segments.

Neill recently learned that Providence St. Joseph Health (a group operating six to seven hospitals), was utilizing hospital volunteers to manufacture the shields and felt with the help of J Miller Canvas manufacturing the shields, the hospital volunteers could utilize their services in other areas.

“We went into the back and told our guys we needed to make shields. We put a couple of examples up on the screen, Googled face shields and let them go to town,” Neill said.

His team ran through 30 different design ideas and overcame various material supply challenges. But once they finally landed on the right design, production of the first face shields could begin.

Face shield assembly station at J Miller Canvas LLC

After delivering its first prototype, J Miller Canvas received an order for 10,000 units from St. Joseph’s and was manufacturing 500 to 750 face shields per day. Production has been put on hold currently, as the initial supply demand was met earlier than expected; but is expected to start up again very soon.

The face shields, comprised of a 20-gauge clear vinyl material with a one-inch square foam for the forehead and elastic band that holds the shield to the face, are primarily used for drive-up testing sites and other non-surgical activities in hospitals.

“Bret Kelley at Trivantage has been ‘essential’ in facilitating connections between our industry and hospital groups”, he added. “He has been a huge leader, telling hospitals ‘we have guys out here who can help and here is their name and number.’”

“We’ve never seen anything quite like this,” Neill said of the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is going to be something for the history books. We will be talking about April 2020—the year the world shut down.”

But it will also be considered the year U.S. small businesses turned their know-how, creativity and innovation into action and retooled production lines or used existing materials to rush to the aid of the nation and frontline health care workers in need of critical PPE products.

“Our workers have taken ownership of the face shields,” he said (noting the company employs 22 people). “Our whole goal is to keep these guys employed. They are the lifeline.”