NCTO Welcomes Senate Passage of Infrastructure Bill; Guarantees Long-Term Contracts for Domestic PPE

WASHINGTON—The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), representing the full spectrum of U.S. textiles from fiber through finished products, issued a statement today welcoming Senate passage of a bipartisan infrastructure bill that will provide billions of dollars in new spending to revitalize the nation’s roads, bridges and railways and help reconstitute a domestic supply chain for personal protective equipment (PPE).

“We commend the Senate for passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which will provide critical resources for our nation’s aging infrastructure and at the same time help incentivize the reshoring of personal protective equipment (PPE) production, an important priority of the U.S. textile industry,” said NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas.

NCTO worked with congressional allies to include a version of the Make PPE in America Act, legislation co-sponsored by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), in the infrastructure legislative package. The bill ensures all PPE purchased by the Departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs are Berry Amendment-compliant; guarantees long-term contracts (a minimum of two years) to U.S. manufacturers; and creates a tiered preference for PPE made in the Western Hemisphere by our free trade partners using U.S. components, after domestic manufacturing capacity has been maximized.

“We sincerely thank Senator Portman and Senator Peters for working to include their Make PPE in America Act in the infrastructure bill,” Glas said. “This bill will help onshore critical production of personal protective equipment (PPE) by guaranteeing long-term contracts for domestically produced PPE and ensuring that taxpayer dollars are utilized to bolster the federal purchase of American-made PPE.

The U.S. manufacturing industry has produced over a billion lifesaving PPE and other medical products over the last year, as NCTO members retooled production chains in response to the nation’s needs. We will continue to urge the government to purchase Berry-compliant products containing 100 percent domestic content for PPE to help bolster the full U.S. production chain in the future.”

###

NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 530,000 in 2020.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $64.4 billion in 2020.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $25.4 billion in 2020.
  • Capital expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $2.38 billion in 2019, the last year for which data is available.

CONTACT:

Kristi Ellis

Vice President, Communications

National Council of Textile Organizations

kellis@ncto.org  |  202.684.3091

 

Precision Fabrics Group Staying the Course in a Turbulent Economy

Precision Fabrics Group is staying the course and registering positive growth in key business segments, as it navigates the myriad challenges in the industrial textiles sector, beset by domestic and global supply chain disruptions, rising commodity prices and labor shortages in today’s pandemic-impacted economy.

Headquartered in Greensboro, N.C., Precision Fabrics Group—a new NCTO member–is an engineered materials business focused on highly technical, high-quality woven and nonwoven materials.

The company’s diverse portfolio represents a prime example of the U.S. textile industry’s innovative contribution and importance to the economic backbone of the U.S. economy.

Its core business is in industrial fabrics, centered around sophisticated weaving technologies and finishing chemistries for performance fabrics aimed at high-tech markets. The company specializes in designing fabric constructions for coating and laminating substrates, process and cure liners and other industrial applications.

In a testament to the company’s innovative might, Precision’s fabrics are also used in protective apparel, surgical garments, therapeutic bedding and aerospace safety equipment.

It has produced thousands of yards of fabric used to filter contaminated water in Guinea to help eradicate worm disease and also provided the woven release fabric used in the construction of emergency escape chutes, which were used in the 2009 emergency landing on the Hudson River in New York City.

Precision Fabrics Group was created in 1988 in a leveraged buyout from Burlington Industries, and continues today as a privately held company, employing approximately 600 associates and operates plants in North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee.

In an interview, Byron Bassett, corporate vice president of Precision Fabrics, outlined the impact of the pandemic, and the ongoing challenges the company is facing and overcoming in a turbulent economy that is on the rebound but is still uneven due to new rising coronavirus cases associated with the Delta variant.

“The last two years have been the most uncertain that I have experienced in my 34- year career. There have been other times where the economy took a little dive and short term dip, but this one seems to be so protracted and the recovery so uncertain,” Bassett said. “It seems as if the economy has had more elasticity in years past.”

“We’re involved in the industrial sector and there is large portion of that industrial sector that essentially became a fraction of what it was pre-Covid– almost overnight at the onset of the pandemic last year. The sector is coming back now but the process of recovery is going to be a slow one in some areas,” he added.

The industrial textile sector, like all other segments of the U.S. textile industry, was impacted by shutdowns and economic downturn during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, but according to research highlighted in this summary of IFAI’s 2021 State of the Industry report, the outlook for the industry is positive.

“Collectively, companies in the industry…have positive expectations for their future. Some 62% expect their revenues to increase while only 5% expect a decrease (one-third are not sure),” IFAI said. “Overall, respondents expect an average increase of 8.5% in annual revenues over the next two years. Organizations serving the hospitality markets anticipate the highest increase in revenues (10%). Those serving manufacturing and agriculture anticipate slightly lower-than-average revenues.”

The research is based on findings from more than 300 members of the industrial fabrics community, gathered through an online survey fielded January–March 2021 that asked organizations about their businesses pre-pandemic (2019) and during the pandemic (2020), as well as their outlook for the future, according to IFAI.

Bassett said Precision Fabrics shares that optimism, having registered growth in the first half of this year, but warned there are headwinds slowing down the recovery.

 

SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES DOMESTICALLY AND GLOBALLY

“We’re still waiting for yarns to run our looms. We’ve got 10 percent or 15 percent of our production capacity that has been hampered by [shortages] of raw materials. So on top of all of the other things, we are struggling to meet delivery schedules, which is a pretty common thing—as a result of these supply chain issues,” Bassett said.

He noted that supply chain problems downstream and upstream are impacting business and said domestic yarn manufacturers, non-woven produces and chemical companies across the board are having difficulty procuring polymers, necessary to run supply raw materials, as well as shortages in manpower to run them.

“There is a myriad of reasons that are hard to put together. We had a terrible winter down in the Gulf, which impacted the petrochemical based stocks. We had plant shutdowns because of COVID that reduced production outputs. There has been a lot of competition for commodities,” Bassett said.

“As our order books have strengthened over the last 6 months, priming the pump has been difficult, as a result.”

Another challenge causing supply chain disruptions has to do with the sheer magnitude of the effort necessary to ramp back up industries, many of which were temporarily shuttered for several months, particularly in the U.S. petrochemical industry, which supplies the majority of polymers to the textile industry.

Upstream manufacturers are also facing severe supply chain delays and issues.

For example, the automotive industry is a strong business segment for Precision, which makes nonwoven acoustic fabrics for the interior of vehicles to address sound absorption.

While consumer demand is high for new cars, an ongoing computer chip shortage, has severely impacted the production of new automobiles.

“The automotive business is a really good example where secondary or tertiary level supply chains are impacting every other tier of suppliers,” Bassett said. “They are saying this chip shortage will last into next year. Then we expect a surge because of pent- up demand. This turbulence is going to continue. How do you take a manufacturing process and ramp up from 30 percent of historical production volume to 130 percent of historical production volume? How do you forecast that?”

Rising raw material prices and freight surcharges on imported inputs are also putting pressure on margins.

“Raw materials are increasing in price; the cost of freight particularly sea freight is at all-time highs and some suppliers are implementing surcharges on components made from feed stocks that are on allocation.  The combination of these factors require PFG and other companies to rethink their strategies as the demand in the market improves, Bassett said.

 

WOKFORCE ISSUES—LABOR SHORTAGES

As business continues to come back online, NCTO member companies are facing one of the more dire labor shortage environments in history, in line with every other major industrial, retail and transportation sector across the country.

The textile industry was recently listed as one of seven industries “most desperate for workers,” by the Washington Post.

Shortages are so acute that manufacturers have had to turn down contracts from businesses, including those that want to make their goods here in America.

“From my perspective, there has been a change in our culture, a change in how people view themselves relative to companies themselves and what they see as their part in it,” Bassett said. “We are going to have to find some creative ways to keep people engaged, particularly in manufacturing. I don’t think young people graduating from college today are thinking: ‘If I could only get into manufacturing and work for 45 years, I’d have a great career.’”

Bassett said the labor shortages are also driven by a generational gap and retiring Baby Boomers.

“We’ve got Baby Boomers that have worked in manufacturing for 40 years and are looking forward to retirement. A lot of those folks have worked with us for a very long time and we’ve relied on them. Filling those jobs over the next 5-10 years is a key focus. That is the essence of where we are going as a manufacturing company—we are going to have to figure out how to replace that know-how.”

 

IMPORTS AND RESHORING 

Bassett said there continues to be price pressure from imports, particularly on lower-cost fabrics.

“There are situations where import prices are below our material costs. Some countries see it as a huge opportunity to take a long-term approach and dominate our markets. They have easy access to our market and are willing to invest in the those markets in the short run at lower margins to try choke out the domestic supply base,” he said.

The domestic industry is fully aware of the cost of producing polymers and can easily identify when imported textile components are imported into the U.S. market at below-market prices.

“We’ve seen countries support their industries and I just think there are a lot of reasons for our federal government to make it a strategy to rebuild the U.S. textile industry,” he said. “I don’t think we will make T-shirts here but we need a thriving textile industry in this country as part of an overall, nationwide manufacturing strategy. We are part of what needs to be here for the long run.”

He added that he is seeing a willingness on the part of Precision Fabric’s customers to reshore.

But he cautioned that in some segments such as personal protective equipment (PPE), “memories are quite short and people have reverted back to imports.”

He said foreign suppliers often try to combat reshoring by offering even lower prices as an incentive lure companies back offshore.

 

OUTLOOK

Despite the challenges and other headwinds, Bassett said on balance Precision Fabrics is seeing an increase in orders and business is coming back. 

“We’ve absorbed extra costs when things were leaner last year, and as we are digging out, we have tried to maintain as much continuity as we possibly can. We think that’s good for everybody in the long run,” he said. “It has been our philosophy to stay the course. We’ve got a lot of loyalty in our workforce and recognize that we’ve got skills in our manufacturing operations that would be difficult to replace once lost. It is important that we keep those associates working so that we are prepared to handle the volume when the market rebounds.”

The sectors related to “heavy industry” such as construction, aerospace and even automotive, despite ongoing supply chain issues, are areas where the business is coming back, he said.

Finally, Bassett said the industrial textile segment is “probably the one category in which we can survive as a domestic manufacturer.”

“Low-cost commodity fabrics or consumer items cannot be our focus. We have to continue innovating and take on the most technically challenging applications in our industry. Once something becomes commoditized, we need to replace that business with an innovative product, one that is more financially sustainable.  It is that kind of strategy that will provide a real future for the American textile industry.”

NCTO Welcomes Biden Administration’s Proposal to Increase U.S. Content Rules for Federal Government Purchases; Urges Administration to Utilize Berry Amendment

WASHINGTON—The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) President and CEO Kim Glas issued a statement today on the Biden administration’s proposal to increase domestic content rules for federal government purchases.

National Council of Textile Organizations President and CEO Kim Glas said:

“The U.S. textile industry, employing nearly 530,000 workers, greatly appreciates President Biden’s commitment to close Buy American loopholes and immediately increase domestic content requirements on purchases.  For far too long, Buy American policies have contained loopholes that have undermined our U.S. domestic industrial base and its workforce.  Today is a positive step forward and we look forward to working with the administration on this critical issue moving ahead.

We also want to acknowledge the incredible work that Celeste Drake, the administration’s Made in America Director, has completed on this effort.

With today’s announcement, domestic procurement rules would be immediately increased from 55  to 60 percent with the content threshold increasing to 75 percent over phases by 2029. It would also strengthen domestic supply chains for critical goods.

Increasing the domestic procurement threshold for domestic goods under the current Buy American law will bolster domestic production and stimulate more investment in U.S. manufacturing.  We believe it is critical that taxpayer dollars are used to invest in American manufacturing and our workforce. It is essential that we close loopholes in our Buy America laws, expand application and produce coverage of domestic content rules, and close unnecessary waivers that undermine American manufacturing and its workforce.

As part of its efforts this year to buy American, the White House highlights in a Fact Sheet a purchase made by the Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services in March for over 22 million in American-made cloth face masks for communities hit hard by the pandemic.

We commend the Biden administration for the contracts awarded in March of this year for up to 22.2 million Berry-compliant masks. Production of these 100 percent U.S.-made masks has involved an extensive    supply chain comprising 25 domestic companies and 5,000 American workers, and we must continue to build on this success and reshore momentum by continuing to award future contracts using a similar process. Our industry was proud to help fulfill President Biden’s commitment to up 22 million reusable masks made with 100 percent U.S. content.

The U.S. manufacturing industry has produced over a billion lifesaving PPE and other medical products over the last year as NCTO members retooled production chains in response to the nation’s   needs. We have long advocated that 100 percent content is essential and Berry-like rules help bolster the full production chain.

We understand the administration is seeking to backfill the Strategic National Stockpile with essential products and NCTO, with other industry associations and labor unions, has urged the administration to continue purchasing Berry-compliant products for PPE.

This is essential to bolster our domestic industrial base at a time when PPE orders have diminished.  Further, we believe Berry should apply more broadly to other mission critical products purchased by non-Defense federal departments and agencies like Homeland Security.

COVID-19 revealed the fragility in key aspects of our supply chain, and we believe strengthening our Buy American laws, coupled with other strong policies, will help onshore these and other critical supply chains.

Fully maximizing purchasing of Berry-compliant products moving forward is critical to sustaining and furthering the incredible progress made to date and should be considered as part of the administration’s onshoring and industrial expansion efforts.

Using the provisions of the Buy American Act alone is not sufficient to address U.S. national security needs. Our national security needs must foster investment in the  capital-intensive raw material production processes upstream and downstream production in the supply chain. These upstream production processes are not only essential from an overall domestic capacity standpoint, but they are also the implementation point for a range of advanced technologies such as anti­-viral, anti-bacterial, and other functional fiber, yarns, fabrics, and finishes.

We appreciate the Biden administration’s commitment to closing these loopholes and strengthening domestic supply chains.  We look forward to continuing our work with the administration on these priorities as they consult with key stakeholders on implementation moving ahead.

###

NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 530,000 in 2020.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $64.4 billion in 2020.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $25.4 billion in 2020.
  • Capital expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $2.38 billion in 2019, the last year for which data is available.

 

CONTACT: Kristi Ellis

(202) 684-3091

www.ncto.org

 

 

From Runway Gowns to Medical Gowns—Goldatech is Making a Difference

As the disturbing scenes of healthcare workers wearing garbage bags in place of proper protective equipment splashed across the headlines at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, a trio of women—more accustomed to designing haute couture gowns for fashion runways than isolation gowns for frontline workers in hospitals—formulated a plan.

Furloughed from their design jobs at Oscar de la Renta in New York’s Garment District, they answered the public call for assistance from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who urged New York designers and manufacturers to come up with creative solutions for lifesaving personal protective equipment, or PPE, to help protect healthcare workers fighting the pandemic.

Together, the three fashion designers, with more than 40 years of combined experience in luxury apparel development, sprang into action.

After consulting with healthcare professionals and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), they reached out to the strong local manufacturing network and diverse industry relationships they had built over the years with New York factories and began designing prototypes of isolation gowns.

“Within a week we pooled our resources and made our first batch of 300 gowns to donate [to local, underserved hospitals] under our non-profit organization—Garment District for Gowns,” said Rachel Rothenberg-Saenz, co-founder and CEO of the non-profit. She is also CEO of Goldatech, a separate company founded by the three women that is FDA-registered and minority-owned and women-owned certified.

Rothenberg-Saenz co-owns the organization with two of her former design team colleagues at Oscar de la Renta—Alexandra Baylis, chief operating officer of Goldatech, and Amy Tiefermann, chief product officer.

A new member of NCTO, Goldatech’s journey and story is emblematic of the U.S. textile industry’s herculean effort to retool production lines and stand up a virtually non-existent domestic supply chain for critical PPE items in this nation’s time of need.

It also underscores the urgent need for state and federal policymakers to craft robust policies to help onshore PPE supply chains, create a permanent domestic supply chain, and support a nascent domestic industry that has exhibited its innovative strength to provide more than 1 billion PPE items.

 

Building an American Medical Gown Supply Chain

To fund their endeavor, the Goldatech team initially raised $70,000 through a GoFundMe fundraiser, funneling 100 percent of the funding back into manufacturing and donating gowns.

They won a state grant—the first applicant out of a total of 33,000—to be awarded New York State’s Empire State Development (ESD) COVID-19 Retooling Grant, to “establish a NY-based PPE supply chain and get medical gowns into the hands of healthcare workers,” Rothenberg-Saenz said.

“The main objectives behind this grant were to create jobs and bring back furloughed employees, expand our business beyond the immediate needs of the COVID-19 pandemic, build a robust local supply chain and grow the production of American-made PPE,” she added.

With a team of just five people, the company has used the grant to facilitate the manufacturing of isolation gowns, supporting and investing in a network of subcontractors who were facing closures as a result of the pandemic. With an intimate knowledge of the capabilities of New York’s Garment District, they were able to meet and exceed demand for these critical supplies.

The efforts have supported the rehiring of 1,200 previously furloughed workers across the country, including fabric mill, manufacturing and logistics personnel. In addition, many of the subcontractors have also invested money into new machinery to support the ramp up.

“The majority of the subcontractors under our umbrella were previously manufacturing high-end fashion, and all were happy to pivot,” Rothenberg-Saenz reflected, citing one example of a subcontractor who they are partnering with now, who has a history of manufacturing for Ralph Lauren’s Collection (including for the American Olympic team), Donna Karan, and The Row, among others.

“At the beginning it was rapid self-educating, phone calls with the FDA, CDC, AAMI, and keeping up to date with evolving policy. Having never been subjected to meeting FDA standards, we were rigorous in third party testing and ultimately able to ensure the utmost compliance,” she added. “Many of our subcontractors now have the opportunity to slightly shift back into manufacturing fashion, however would rather stay producing PPE.”

Goldatech’s manufacturing capabilities are currently 7 million units of reusable and disposable gowns per month.

Baylis said the team has connected with the majority of USA textile companies making both wovens and nonwovens and has established a family group of manufacturers that they are working closely with to develop new products.

Goldatech designs and develops the gowns, adhering to the strict FDA standards and AAMI levels, and oversees production, securing and sourcing raw materials and coordinating with the entire production chain.

“We work directly with each mill within our network, facilitating orders, freight and logistics to our New York facilities. We are heavily involved in every step of the process, including raw material (fiber) procurement in some cases.” Baylis said.

The company also gives a percentage back to the non-profit Garment District for Gowns and continues to donate to underserved communities across the country. To date they have donated 22,000 reusable gowns to over 51 hospital networks across the country.

“Together with the help of the state, we were able to bring factory workers back, particularly in the garment district, which we view as a national treasure, and help keep many of these factories from shuttering their doors,” Rothenberg-Saenz said.

Goldatech has fulfilled high-volume contracts for New York state—rebuilding its stockpile—New York City’s Department of Health, the Arizona Department of Public Health and other government entities.

 

Sustainability and Innovation

One of Goldatech’s primary goals is to help mitigate the environmental impact of PPE manufacturing.

To that end, all materials and manufacturing are sourced in the United States and the company partners with industry leaders to “implement a strong domestic supply chain in PPE manufacturing.”

“We are very passionate about reusable gowns as a more sustainable option for the environment,” Rothenberg-Saenz said. “We want to make it easy for hospitals to make the switch, so we developed a straightforward app that goes along with our reusable gowns. Historically, they had a tag with a printed grid that you would manually tick off for each wash.”

“It [the app] digitally records and tracks the lifespan of our gowns. It is built into a back-office software, to monitor inventory levels.  For example, once inventory reaches 90 percent of its lifecycle, the customer can automatically reorder gowns to keep the process seamless.”

She said the demand for reusable gowns is growing slightly and she believes it will continue to grow. “The cost per use is lower than disposable gowns.  These facilities are stuck in old habits, but they should understand there’s a cheaper, bigger-picture option here.”

 

Challenges—Competing Against China on PPE

Goldatech faces challenges associated with China’s dominance in PPE production and imports of low-cost medical products.

According to PPE trade data now being tracked and reported by the Department of Commerce Office of Textiles & Apparel (OTEXA), U.S. imports of PPE grew from $4.8 billion in 2019 to $20.4 billion in 2020, an increase of 325 percent. Imports from China specifically jumped from $1.6 to $13.7 billion, up 756 percent to capture a two-thirds share of the U.S. PPE import market in 2020.

As NCTO has testified, China’s PPE sector has clearly benefited from state planning and predatory trade practices. Its “Made in China 2025” industrial policies were designed to nationalize and corner market share for these products.

“It’s definitely a challenge to meet their prices as we know the Chinese government subsidizes up to 70 percent of the cost of the PPE manufacturing,” Rothenberg-Saenz said. “It is hard to compete when imported products are being sold below cost. As manufacturers ramp up and reach new efficiencies, the USA industry becomes more competitive. Further commitment and investment from Capitol Hill would bolster these efforts.  We have a strong infrastructure across the country, and we are all intent on getting through this battle and convincing procurement teams to purchase American-made PPE.”

 

Long-Term Contracts: Push to Build a Permanent Domestic PPE Supply Chain

“[NCTO President & CEO] Kim Glas has been working on so many important issues in Washington to support the PPE supply chain and it starts with long-term contracts,” said Rothenberg-Saenz.

“There has to be a robust domestic supply chain in place,” said Baylis.  “Without fully supporting the manufacturers who have pivoted to making this product, should these events happen again, it is a security issue for the United States. Legislation needs to swiftly be put into place to ensure the significant investment and retooling that occurred during the pandemic was not in vain.”

In May, Glas testified at the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on the medical supply chain and outlined a series of policy recommendations to incentivize the establishment of a permanent domestic supply chain.

Among the recommendations she highlighted were: creating strong domestic procurement rules for federal PPE purchases and other essential products—substantially similar to the Berry Amendment and the Kissell Amendment which requires 100 percent U.S. content from fiber production forward; implementing long-term contracts to incentivize investment in the domestic PPE manufacturing base; and creating federal incentives for private sector hospitals and large provider networks to purchase American-made PPE.

Glas said the time is “ripe for a revival of American PPE textile manufacturing. It has already begun but we are at a pivotal time. Without the necessary policy response and support, our recent progress will be undone just as quickly, and China’s stranglehold over global medical textile supply will be locked in for the foreseeable future with no reason to invest here. However, with the right policy framework, the domestic PPE supply chains built overnight can endure and grow, creating a level of self-sufficiency domestically that we have learned the hard way is essential to our national health and economic security.”

Her full testimony can be found here.

“We will always have American innovation, but American manufacturing facilities are not guaranteed unless we continue to support them, especially through legislation,” Rothenberg-Saenz said.

 

Goldatech Banks on the Future

The company’s long-term goal is to manufacture its own line of sustainable and innovative performance health wear.

“We definitely want to continue manufacturing PPE. We are optimistic that there will be a future here, but we also plan to expand our PPE portfolio. We’re developing a new line which will merge molecular fabric science with expert tailoring,” Rothenberg-Saenz said.

She cited recent statistics showing the healthcare industry is expected to grow 49 percent by 2028.

“We are hoping to set a new standard in biodegradable products, especially with durable scrubs that would decompose in up to three years, which is a stark contrast to the current standard of up to 200 years, ” she added.

Asked if she missed designing for the fashion world:

“There are many similarities in that we’re on the shop floor, problem-solving and innovating new apparel products. That said, we are intensely more passionate about this new direction, and find it to be meaningful,” she said.  “The biggest difference is in the end use of the garment; this one of course being built to protect its wearer from exposure to infection. The magnitude of the situation and sense of responsibility we feel to keep healthcare workers safe has fueled our passion and purpose.”

“The pandemic exposed the profound fragility in our country [to supply PPE] and we have a chance to rectify it now.”

NY Presbyterian in Goldatech Reusable Gowns

INDUSTRY AND UNION COALITION RELEASES STATEMENT

WASHINGTON—A broad coalition of industry organizations and labor unions, representing a broad spectrum of manufacturers and workers who stepped up to make essential personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, sent a letter today to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) expressing strong support for the inclusion of robust domestic procurement policies for PPE in the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) currently being considered by the Senate.

“Specifically, we urge you to ensure broad government coverage for domestic PPE procurement by extending rules for PPE procurement substantially similar to the Berry Amendment to the federal government’s largest buyers of these products, including the Departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, and Defense,” the coalition states in the letter.

“We thank you for including such a provision in Section 4153 of the USICA, which is substantially similar to the bipartisan Make PPE in America Act (S.1306) introduced earlier this year by Senators [Gary] Peters and [Rob] Portman,” the coalition writes.  “As you consider legislation to respond to the legacy of manufacturing and technology offshoring to China, provisions like Section 4153 are vital to reduce U.S. dependency on China for vital medical supplies.”

“Last spring when our national PPE crisis was on the nightly news showing workers wearing garbage bags as gowns and reusing N95 masks, our severe overreliance on China for PPE revealed the undeniable fact that the lack of U.S. production of PPE is a threat to our national security and the public health of the American people,” the letter states.

However, “despite PPE shortages and supply chain disruptions, American workers stepped in to fill an enormous void. As a result of its sweat and ingenuity, U.S. manufacturing produced over a billion critical PPE items such as face masks, isolation gowns, and testing kit swabs for health care and frontline workers, as well as the American people… For the first time in years, America makes PPE again,” the coalition adds.

“For this trend to continue, however, the coalition stresses that “the emergent U.S. PPE industry needs the purchasing certainty that long-term government contracts can provide.”

“We need a strong, vibrant, redundant wholly U.S. PPE supply chain to help protect us from the next public health crisis. We urge you to ensure that the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act extends domestic purchasing requirements for PPE to the four critical departments with the largest federal purchasing power for these products—DHS, HHS, VA, and DoD.”

See the coalition’s full letter here.

The statement was signed by the following organizations:

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

###

NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 530,000 in 2020.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $64.4 billion in 2020.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $25.4 billion in 2020.
  • Capital expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $2.38 billion in 2019, the last year for which data is available.

DOWNLOAD RELEASE

Kristi Ellis

Vice President, Communications

National Council of Textile Organizations

kellis@ncto.org  |  202.684.3091

NCTO President & CEO Testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee examined key issues related to U.S. medical supply chain vulnerabilities during the COVID-19 crisis, the nation’s overreliance on foreign sources for critical medical supplies, “gaps” in the federal government’s response and policy recommendations, at a hearing Wednesday. NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas participated as an industry representative and expert on a panel of medical and supply chain witnesses.

NCTO President & CEO Kim Glas on the expert witness panel

Senate Homeland Security Chairman Gary Peters (D-MI) and Ranking Member Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) opened the hearing. Both senators raised concern about the country’s lack of preparedness in the face of a once-in-a-generation a health crisis that sent the U.S. economy into a tailspin.

The full text of their opening statements can be accessed here: Senator Peters’ Opening Statement and Senator Portman’s Opening Statement.

“Despite years of warnings about the dangers of our nation’s overreliance on foreign sources and manufacturers for critical medical supplies, our nation was still unprepared to acquire the masks, gloves, gowns and ventilators needed to treat the significant number of COVID patients, stop the spread, and save lives,” said Senator Peters in his opening statement. “…The federal government should have taken early action to ramp up production of personal protective equipment, and other critical medical supplies, by issuing emergency contracts or fully invoking the Defense Production Act.”

Senator Portman said in his opening statement: “It became apparent that by the time the virus reached our shores, there was little we could do to prevent the shortages of critical supplies. The spike in demand for medical supplies was too high, the production of those supplies too far away, and too centralized in places hit hard by the virus. At the same time, the Strategic National Stockpile was underprepared.”

Portman outlined three broad questions for witnesses: “First, what steps should the United States take to reduce overreliance on foreign countries for critical medical supplies? We need to understand how to diversify supply chains away from China, reshoring manufacturing to the United States, and incentivizing production in the Western Hemisphere.”

NCTO President & CEO Kim Glas prepares to give her testimony before HSGAC

In her opening remarks, NCTO President & CEO Kim Glas said:

“The U.S. textile industry stepped in to fill an enormous void, producing over a billion critical PPE items such as face masks, isolation gowns and testing kit swabs for frontline healthcare workers.”

But a “strong overreliance on Chinese raw materials and finished PPE production chains exposed a severe fragility in these supply chains and posed a significant national security threat,” Glas said, adding that years of offshoring also contributed to the crisis and had “severe ramifications.”

“I come before you today with an urgent plea,” Glas said. “We must get critical policies over the finish line immediately or the very supply chains that were retooled and reconstructed will remain fragile and largely offshore,” adding that China has exponentially expanded its global dominance of PPE production.

For her full written testimony and policy recommendations please see the link here.

Another witness, Shereef Elnahal, M.D., President and CEO of University Hospital in  Newark, New Jersey, outlined the magnitude of the emergency room visits, 83,000 in total, last year and the hospital’s lack of preparedness to “address the surge of patients.”

“As the number of COVID cases in our emergency rooms and intensive care units doubled, tripled and quadrupled, we found ourselves at risk of running out of supplies for which we have never seen shortages before,” he said in opening remarks. “This includes protective equipment for our staff, and ventilators for the patients with the most severe cases of COVID-19.”

Senator Portman had a lengthy Q&A with Glas following introductory remarks.

“One of the things that we’ve talked about today and we’re trying to figure out is how to make more PPE here, but use market forces to do it, so it makes sense,” Portman said. “And, we have manufacturers here in this country who are willing to make stuff, but they need to know they’ve got a market. And if they don’t, they can’t make the significant investments, millions of dollars, to be able to convert their plants,” Portman said.

“This has particularly been tough on the textile industry, and Ms. Glas, I want to thank you for being here but also your hard work and support of the Make PPE in America Act, which you mentioned we introduced and was passed in the Committee just last week,” Portman noted.

The senator also asked Glas why long-term contracts are an effective way to spur market forces to incentivize production in the U.S.

“It provides a critical demand signal for our industry that there will be a purchaser and that they can invest in the new equipment necessary,” Glas said. We have Ohio manufacturers….who have looked at trying to invest more here in the United States, but they won’t without a strong demand signal,” she said, adding that other countries, like Canada, are issuing long-term contracts to their manufacturers to bolster production.

For more on their exchange, please see the a link to the transcript provided by the committee here.

Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) asked Glas about the offshoring of the U.S. textile industry and the role trade policy played in it.

Glas pointed to several key trade decisions, including the accession of China to the World Trade Organization and the removal of quotes on textile and apparel imports, as key drivers behind offshoring.

“This played out on a national stage when COVID hit,” Glas said. “How many US textile manufacturers did I represent making PPE [before the pandemic?] Probably two or three. What happened during the pandemic? About 140 companies of mine retooled their production chains to help fight the crisis and now a lot of those companies simply have no orders.”

That has been compounded by an onslaught of Chinese PPE imports, which have increased 756 percent in the past year and are often dumped on the U.S. market below cost, she noted.

“We have a U.S. industry that has invested and who want to make products here but with no long-term demand signal by the federal government. And we have not solved the equation of how to get hospitals and nursing home to purchase products that are made here in the United states.”

Hawley asked Glas to explain why the “deck is still stacked” against the textile industry today.

Glas touched on the unfair playing field in competing against China, which has a long history of human rights abuse and has more recently been accused of “genocide” by U.S. officials, and imprisoning Uyghur Muslim minorities in detention camps and forcing them to make consumer products, including apparel and textiles, for global brands.

“It is hard to compete globally with subsidized industries all over the world including China. We have domestic manufacturers who can be globally competitive. We just need to send them a strong demand signal and we need to get policies over the finish line here in Congress to make sure we can be more globally competitive,” Glas said.

She stressed that it will take a “whole of government approach to trade enforcement” to address the imbalance in our trade policy as it relates to PPE textile products.

Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA) said he never again wants to see the images of nurses sewing their own face masks and donning garbage bags as gowns that played out at a local hospital in Georgia during the pandemic.

He asked Glas if the government and country have taken the necessary steps since those early months of the crisis to ensure frontline workers never have to resort to homemade PPE again.

Glas said that while our industry was able to retool and invest in critical PPE, she is concerned that in a few months from now, those domestic supply chains will go offshore again, without long-term funding from the Defense Production Act.

“We are going to need to diversify supply chains moving forward. We need to show a demand signal to the industry,” she noted. “There needs to be incentives for hospitals like the one you have that want to purchase MADE in USA product that costs a little bit more. And there are a lot of Georgia textile manufacturers that want to respond to your local hospital systems and make these products long-term.”

The entire hearing can be viewed at the link here.

 

NCTO President & CEO Kim Glas Testifies on the Medical Supply Chain and Pandemic Response Gaps at Senate Homeland Security Hearing

NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas is testifying today on “COVID-19 Part II: Evaluating the Medical Supply Chain and Pandemic Response Gaps, before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee at 2:30 P.M. ET.

In written testimony submitted to the committee, Glas provides an overview of: the U.S. market prior to the pandemic and the root causes of America’s dependence on offshore sources for medical PPE; the heroic response of the U.S. textile industry; the federal government’s response to the crisis; and a series of policy recommendations to incentivize the establishment of a permanent domestic PPE supply chain.

“The time is ripe for a revival of American PPE textile manufacturing. It has already begun, but we are at a pivotal point,” Glas adds. “Without the necessary  policy response and support, our recent progress will be undone just as quickly, and China’s stranglehold over global medical textile supply will be locked in for the foreseeable future with no reason to invest here. However, with the right policy framework, the domestic PPE supply chains built overnight can endure and grow, creating a level of self-sufficiency domestically that we have learned the hard way is essential to our national health and economic security.”

Glas details key policy recommendations designed to establish a permanent domestic PPE supply chain, including:

  • Create strong domestic procurement rules for federal PPE purchases and other essential products–substantially similar to the Berry Amendment and the Kissell Amendment which require 100% US content from fiber production forward
  • Implement forward-looking policies to shore up the Strategic National Stockpile and issue long-term contracts to incentivize investment in the domestic PPE manufacturing base
  • Create federal incentives for private sector hospitals and large provider networks to purchase domestically-produced PPE
  • Continue to deploy the Defense Production Act to shore up the textile industrial base from raw materials to end products for all essential products

Please view the full written testimony by NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas here.

###

NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 530,000 in 2020.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $64.4 billion in 2020.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $25.4 billion in 2020.
  • Capital expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $2.38 billion in 2019, the last year for which data is available.

Download Release

Kristi Ellis

VP, Communications

kellis@ncto.org

NCTO Sends Letter to Acting OMB Director, Requesting Agency to Grant Approval for Collection of China 301 Duties on Section 321 De Minimis Shipments

WASHINGTON– National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) President and CEO Kim Glas sent a letter to Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Robert Fairweather today, requesting the agency reconsider and approve a proposal to direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to collect Section 301 penalty duties on billions of dollars of Chinese goods currently shipped duty free under Section 321 de minimis waivers.

“There has been an exponential growth of shipments to the United States in recent years that qualify for Section 321 duty-free treatment,” Glas said in the letter. “U.S. manufacturers of textiles, apparel and other consumer goods that routinely sell for less than the $800 de minimis threshold increasingly find their markets and workforce threatened by this tariff avoidance scheme.”

The letter details how the current Section 321 provision is now being coupled with e-commerce to provide billions in duty avoidance on these imported products, including:

  • Increased import price pressure on domestic manufacturers of various types of consumer items that routinely sell for less than $800 such as – apparel, footwear, home furnishings, toys, consumer electronics, flatware, auto parts, etc.
  • An inability to properly identify and block the importation of adulterated products posing a health and safety risk to consumers.
  • An inability to properly identify and block imports of counterfeit products that violate intellectual property laws.
  • Enhanced ability of countries like China to access the U.S. market, despite their failure to provide reciprocal access to their markets and their persistent illegal and unfair trading practices.

“Imported merchandise from China that enters under a Section 321 waiver is exempt from all normal tariffs and any penalty duties assessed under the current 301 case. This unreasonable and unnecessary
duty exemption severely undermines the purpose and value of the existing Section 301 determination against China as an effort to address its longstanding predatory trade practices,” Glas stated.

“The Biden administration should undertake an exhaustive review of this problem to develop the policy changes needed to mitigate the damaging impact of Section 321 waivers on U.S. workers and manufacturers,” Glas added. “In the interim, it is critical that the OMB and CBP take reasonable steps, such as denying Section 321 benefits to goods covered under the existing China 301 determination [tariffs]. Doing so would be a valuable first step toward limiting the dangerous and growing exploitation of this tariff waiver mechanism.”

See the full letter here.

###

NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association
that represents domestic textile manufacturers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 530,000 in 2020.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $64.4 billion in 2020.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $25.4 billion in 2020.
  • Capital expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $2.38 billion in 2019, the last year for which data is available.

DOWNLOAD RELEASE

Kristi Ellis

Vice President, Communications

National Council of Textile Organizations

kellis@ncto.org
|  202.684.3091

NCTO Member Parkdale Mills Hosts Senator Tim Kaine Highlighting the Importance of the U.S. Textile Industry to Lifesaving PPE & the Economy

WASHINGTON, DC – National Council of Textiles Organization (NCTO) member Parkdale Mills hosted Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) at the company’s Magnolia Manufacturing plant in Hillsville, Va. today to showcase the critical role the company and the industry has played in producing lifesaving personal protective equipment (PPE) to aid frontline health-care workers and the country during the pandemic.

Parkdale’s facility in Hillsville, Va. is a key yarn spinning hub contributing to a major face mask initiative bringing together several U.S. companies and more than 5,000 workers as part of the Biden administration’s pledge to provide 25 million reusable face masks to communities hit hard by the pandemic.

“Parkdale Mills thanks Senator Kaine for his leadership on policies that help bolster our company and the entire textile industry. We are proud to be part of an initiative that is bringing together American companies to produce 100% American-made masks for community health centers, soup kitchens and food banks across the country,” said Davis Warlick of Parkdale Mills. “With the support of our government and leaders like Senator Kaine, our industry is demonstrating its ability and capacity to make critical items here for the long term.”

Kim Glas, President and CEO of NCTO said: “We want to sincerely thank Senator Kaine for his leadership in supporting American manufacturers, which have played a vital role in our economy as well as the nationwide effort to produce critical PPE and medical textiles for a nation in crisis. We are grateful to the senator and the Biden administration for prioritizing domestic manufacturers and the U.S. workforce. The U.S. textile industry is a vital contributor to the U.S economy and policies that Senator Kaine supports help bolster the onshoring of PPE and critical items, which in turn spurs employment and investment in the American manufacturing base.”

 

NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 530,000 in 2020.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $64.4 billion in 2020.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $25.4 billion in 2020.
  • Capital expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $2.38 billion in 2019, the last year for which data is available.

# # #

DOWNLOAD RELEASE

 

CONTACT: Kristi Ellis

(202) 684-3091

www.ncto.org

 

 

NCTO Re-Elects David Roberts, CEO of Cap Yarns, as its 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 2021 today.

NCTO has re-elected David Roberts, CEO of Cap Yarns, as Chairman and David Poston, President of Palmetto Synthetics, as Vice Chairman.

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 2021 fiscal year,” said NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas. “David Roberts (CEO of Cap Yarns) has been re-elected as our chairman and David Poston (President of Palmetto Synthetics) has been re-elected as our vice chairman. I want to thank both of them for their vital contribution to the Board and NCTO. Their input is invaluable.”

“This is a critical juncture for our industry, which answered the call of the nation to produce lifesaving personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic,” Glas added. “We will continue to engage with all stakeholders to press for policies that support the industry overall, help onshore PPE production and create a permanent domestic supply chain.”

“With the support of our 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 2021 are:

  • Chairman – David Roberts, CEO of Cap Yarns, Inc.

Mr. 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

Mr. 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 – Jay Brinson of PHP Fibers; Tom Brekovsky of Auriga; Chuck Hall of William Barnet & Son; Melissa Minihan of The LYCRA Company; Alejandro Sanchez of DAK Americas; and Chip Stein of Stein Fibers
  • Yarn Council – Jim Booterbaugh of National Spinning Co.; Charles Heilig of Parkdale Mills; Eddie Ingle of Unifi; Robin Perkins of Frontier Yarns; Allen Smith of American & Efird; and Marvin Smith of Shuford Yarns
  • Fabric 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 Blake Millinor of Valdese Weavers
  • Industry Support Council – Cyril Guerin of Picanol; Ian Mills of Fi-Tech; and Marisa Fumei-South of Two-One-Two New York Inc.

Elected by their respective Councils to serve on the Executive Committee were: Ian Mills of Fi-Tech; Melissa Minihan of LYCRA; Leib Oehmig of Glen Raven; Robin Perkins of Frontier Yarns; Allen Smith of American & Efird; and Chip Stein of Stein Fibers

Elected to chair the Councils:

  • Fiber Council: David Poston of Palmetto Synthetics
  • Yarn Council: Robin Perkins of Frontier Yarns
  • 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.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 530,000 in 2020.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $64.4 billion in 2020.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $25.4 billion in 2020.
  • Capital expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $2.38 billion in 2019, the last year for which data is available.

 

Download Release

 

 

 

Kristi Ellis

Vice President, Communications

National Council of Textile Organizations

kellis@ncto.org  |  202.684.3091