WASHINGTON, DC – The National Council
of Textile Organization’s (NCTO) Fiber Council announces Rachel Crouse of
Reidsville, NC as the recipient of the 2021 Paul T. O’Day Scholarship
Award. She is the daughter of Sandra and Martin Crouse, who is employed
by Unifi, Inc.
Ms. Crouse graduated in June with high
academic honors and achievements from Rockingham County High School. She
will attend North Carolina State University in the fall. She plans to
pursue a career as an engineer working to reduce the environmental impacts of
the textile industry. She expressed, “I am extremely grateful to be the
recipient of the NCTO Paul T. O’Day
Scholarship as it will help enable me to fully focus on academics through
college. With the help of this scholarship, I hope to graduate early and begin
making an impact either through research within a graduate studies program or
through my career.”
NCTO Fiber Council Chairman David
Poston, President of Palmetto Synthetics LLC, commented, “We are pleased to
recognize Ms. Crouse’s record of honors and achievements and passion for
critical thinking and problem solving as we name her the 2021 recipient of our
Paul T. O’Day Memorial Scholarship. On behalf of the Fiber Council, we
congratulate Ms. Crouse and wish her continued success in her academic career.”
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 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 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.
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
“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
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.
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.”
WASHINGTON, DC—The Biden Administration has awarded two contracts to National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) members Parkdale Mills and Ferrara Manufacturing Inc., following through on the President’s pledge to procure millions of fully Made in America face masks for community health centers, food pantries and soup kitchens across the country. A third contract is expected to be awarded to a small business early next week.
North Carolina headquartered Parkdale Mills, the
nation’s largest cotton yarn spinner, has partnered with Ferrara Manufacturing,
a tailored clothing company based in New York City’s garment center whose
workforce is union represented by Workers United/SEIU, to manufacture over 17
million reusable masks.
The government said it could purchase up to a maximum of 22.2 million masks under the two contracts announced today. The masks will be Berry compliant and thus 100% U.S.-made.
Manufacturing and Parkdale Mills will contract with additional U.S. companies across
the manufacturing supply chain, employing nearly 5,000 American workers as a
result of these awards. Parkdale will be
utilizing yarn from their facilities in NC, VA, and GA and Ferrara will deploy
their cut and sew operations in New York City.
Additional suppliers include:
entire Parkdale team wants to thank President Biden and his administration for
this opportunity to make reusable cotton face masks for millions of Americans,”
said Davis Warlick of Parkdale Mills. “By procuring 100% American-made masks,
we are putting thousands of workers across the United States to work to help
our most vulnerable communities. We are
excited to partner with Ferrara Manufacturing and are proud of our supply chain
partners and their hard work to make this product crafted with pride in the
Ferrara, Chief Operating Officer and owner, of Ferrara Manufacturing: “This is
another amazing moment for our industry to come together to produce lifesaving
PPE for people who need it most. Ferrara is proud to partner with Parkdale
Mills and we want to thank the administration for supporting our workforce, who
have sacrificed so much during the pandemic to answer the call of the nation to
produce million masks. We also greatly appreciate the strong support and
partnership of Workers United/SEIU to help amplify the needs to bolster this
critical supply chain. We are honored to
have this opportunity.”
U.S. textile industry has produced over a billion lifesaving PPE and other
medical products over the last year.
Since the spring of 2020, both Ferrara and Parkdale have retooled their production
chains to help produce millions of masks and gowns to help workers on the
Glas, President and CEO of NCTO: “We want to sincerely thank President Biden
for his leadership and support of American manufacturing workers with this
purchase. We appreciate the administration’s commitment to purchase fully made
in America masks and we believe this is a significant opportunity to continue
to showcase our incredible domestic textile industry and all of its
capabilities. We have a once-in-a-generation
opportunity to onshore these critical supply chains long-term and we look
forward to working with the administration and Congress to advance long-term policies
to bolster this critical production capacity here in the United States.”
See press release from Workers United, an affiliate of SEIU, here.
NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers.
employment in the textile supply chain was 530,000 in 2020.
value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $64.4 billion in 2020.
exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $25.4 billion in 2020.
expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $2.38 billion in 2019,
the last year for which data is available.
WASHINGTON, D.C. —National Council of
Textile Organizations (NCTO) President and CEO Kim Glas, representing the full
spectrum of U.S. textiles from fiber through finished sewn products, issued a
statement today welcoming the reported selection of the House Ways and Means
Committee’s Chief Trade Counsel, Katherine Tai, as the next U.S. Trade
“We applaud President-elect Joe Biden’s
expected nomination of the House Ways and Means Committee’s Chief Trade Counsel,
Katherine Tai, as the next U.S. Trade Representative. This selection is welcome
news to the U.S. textile industry, which has worked closely with Katherine on several
critical trade issues over the years.
She is an exceptional candidate to serve as the next USTR, having
dedicated her career to enforcing our trade laws, and, most recently, serving
as a key lead negotiator in the House securing key improvements in the USMCA
She will be a powerful and thoughtful
advocate on behalf of American workers and our environment. The U.S. textile industry looks forward to
working with her on our top trade priorities.”
is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile
manufacturers, including artificial and synthetic filament and fiber producers.
employment in the textile supply chain was 585,240 in 2019.
value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $75.8 billion in 2019.
exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $29.1 billion in 2019.
expenditures for textile and apparel production totaled $2.5 billion in 2018,
the last year for which data is available.
Chuck Wilson, 68, has worked in textiles for 43 years – with no plans to retire from an industry he loves.
He joined Parkdale, the largest yarn producer in the
U.S., as a supervisor in 2001, and the next year was asked to start up a new
yarn-twisting plant for the company in Mount Holly, N.C. Today, Chuck manages a
Parkdale facility that grew from 20 employees to 75.
Chuck takes immense pride in his work, adding that his
employees are equally as passionate about the products they make. Every package
of yarn must meet exact technical specifications in order to process properly
at the next step, he adds.
“I let them
know that they are important, that everybody’s important to the whole and that
the product they make is important,” Chuck says. “We keep open lines of
communication, and I keep them posted on how we’re doing as a plant and a
As a testament to his love for the industry, after joining Parkdale, Chuck kept his home in Spartanburg, S.C., and has commuted about 124 miles round-trip every day since. He’s now on his third car after logging nearly 500,000 miles on his first vehicle and about 200,000 miles on this second car. And he’s still chugging along.
been a great career for me, and great for my family,” Chuck says. “I would never
have the quality of living I’ve had without textiles. The industry has been
good to me and many of the people I’ve met are lifelong friends. I’m blessed.”
When severe shortages arose in in U.S. and global PPE in
the early days of the pandemic, Parkdale was one of the first companies to step
forward to help, leading a coalition of U.S. textile and apparel makers that
worked with the federal government to address this issue. Since then, Parkdale
and its partners have produced millions of PPE items, including face masks and
gowns, for frontline workers as well as consumers.
Chuck’s plant was able to quickly retool its production
for PPE inputs, a job every employee there takes seriously, he says.
We’re helping supply people what they need on the frontline and we’re going to win this battle. We want to win – that’s the American spirit.
“We look at this as a battle against an invisible enemy,”
he says. “When you see war movies, you see soldiers fighting but you don’t see
what goes in to support them. My brother was in Operation Desert Storm, and he
was in support. He didn’t fight, but he helped provide the materials for the
frontline. Without those materials, the soldiers can’t fight. And that’s the same thing with
the PPE. We’re helping supply people what they need on the frontline and we’re
going to win this battle. We want to win – that’s the American spirit. If you
look at history, you will see how many people have come together to protect
that battle means providing equipment to keep the American citizenry safe, of
course, but an underlying purpose exists, as well, Chuck says.
is our country and we don’t want people to suffer,” he says. “These are our
brothers and sisters. And it’s not just about making money, not at all. It’s
about their safety, yes, but it’s also about helping the people of the United
States enjoy their freedoms because you’re not free when you’re not able to
leave your home. The necessary PPE allows you to go to the church of your
choice, go to the stores of your choice or just go outside your home. It helps
give you freedom.”
lawmakers consider potential policies to confront existing PPE shortages, Chuck
says they should look to craft domestic purchase requirements such as those in
the Berry and Kissell amendments that are already in place for the military.
It’s all about readiness, he says.
shouldn’t have to go outside this country for PPE,” he says. “It should be made
here because, if another country makes it, you don’t know if it’s safe, you
don’t know what kind of standards they have and you may not get it quickly.”
encouraged members of Congress to visit textile mills with an open mind, and to
not “believe everything they’ve heard” about the industry.
“They should get out and get firsthand knowledge of it before they make any decisions, and they should see how it impacts people’s lives,” he says. “If they visit my plant, their decisions won’t just be impacting the 75 people there. It’s also the people who support my plant – the people in Hillsville [Va.] who supply us yarn for twisting . It’s all of our suppliers and it’s all of our customers. And it’s the communities that these mills support.
They should look at our people’s faces. Look at the pride they have in what they do. It’s remarkable. They have pride knowing ‘I can do something. I know how to do something. I have a skill that nobody else has.’ They don’t take that lightly.”
In his four-plus decades, Barry has seen Unifi transform from solely a fiber producer into a diverse provider of numerous high-tech, sustainable products – from fiber made from water bottles under its signature REPREVE® brand to other recycled byproducts such as chip or flake that can be used in anything from apparel to food containers to geotextile liners in road construction projects.
dedicated ourselves to being an innovator,” he says. “We are out here every day
trying to innovate new yarns, new end uses, new combinations and new products
that would give our customers an advantage for the consumer.”
many in this rural county in Western N.C., Barry grew up on a farm. And, like
so many others in the area, he saw the local textile company, founded in 1971
in Greensboro, N.C., as a terrific opportunity to make a good living and learn
brother and several aunts and cousins were working at Unifi when Barry was in
high school and joined the company as a full-time doffer, removing packages of
yarn from machines after they are processed. After graduation, he stayed with
the company and, at age 19, joined its management training program. He took his
first manager’s job over a department at age 25.
“Unifi has been nothing but great to me,” says Barry, whose daughter recently
joined the company in human resources “I’ve had a lot of opportunities here.
It’s allowed me to put my three daughters through college. I don’t know if I
could have done that working anywhere else besides here. So for me and my
family, it has provided tremendous opportunities.”
more than 1,000 people working at the Yadkinville location, Unifi is the second
largest employer in the county behind the school system. “We’re a close-knit
family group here,” he says. “We pull (people) mostly from Yadkin County and
surrounding counties, so it seems like everybody knows everybody.”
early March, Unifi was asked to help supply critical components for Personal
Protective Equipment (PPE) to help fight the spread of COVID-19, and the
company was quick to join the effort. As a crucial product in the supply chain,
the company’s fibers and yarns were needed to produce [fabrics] for hospital gowns, face masks
and medical supplies such as wound dressing and bandages. The company joined a
coalition producing gowns for a large FEMA program when the vast shortage for
frontline workers became apparent.
“We make POY fiber
that we in turn convert to DTY (Drawn Textured Yarn). We sold both into the
medical programs,” Barry says.
everything was a challenge, but it became easier once the [fibers] and
materials used in the gowns] was settled,” he says. “There was a tremendous
amount of trial work going on [with] the yarns [used to create] the gowns
because it had to meet a certain standard. So we made several different yarn
varieties before we finally hit the ones that worked for… the fabric they were
trying to make for the gown.”
Similarly, Unifi’s fibers used in polyester yarns are now being used in face masks – some with antibacterial or water-repellent properties that are produced by numerous partners. And having its own trucking fleet has enabled the company to deliver product in a timely fashion. The entire effort makes him proud, Barry notes.
“It is an exciting thing to be involved in, knowing that there is a need and we can play a part in satisfying that need,” he says. “The industry’s collaboration has been amazing. It’s nice to see a whole industry pull together and say, ‘we can do this, and quickly.’ But that’s part of what the country is all about in times of need – pulling yourself together and making things happen.”
It’s nice to see a whole industry pull together and say, “we can do this, and quickly.” But that’s part of what the country is all about in times of need – pulling yourself together and making things happen.
that any of this effort during these unprecedented times surprises Barry. Time
and again, he has seen his company and his industry show flexibility, he says.
have a lot of capability and capacity, driven by our customers and consumers,”
worked in production and now as a manager, Barry says he has a good grasp on
the operation, adding that his “people skills” have helped him tremendously
along the way.
considered my forte to be people,” he says. “I was once an employee working on
the floor, and that gives me a good perspective of the way they see things and
how they react to things day to day.”
has seen the industry change in many ways throughout his career, transitioning
from a labor-intensive manufacturing sector to a modern, advanced industry that
has become much more efficient, technologically driven, with a focus on
some reason, he adds, the industry has not always received the credit it
deserves for the value it brings to families, communities and the nation at
was a lot of livelihoods made off the textile industry, and it has provided a
lot of things for families,” he says. “You always hope that manufacturing jobs,
which are what the country needs, would be recognized. Even though equipment
has changed and processes have changed, it still involves people. It may
require a higher skillset person, but it’s still all about people.”
says the COVID-19 crisis has opened a lot of eyes to the importance of
manufacturing, especially textiles, in this country.
look at the more than 1,000 people here and all the families who started here,
I’m always going to stress that manufacturing here in the United States is
important,” he says. “There is still a group of people today that is making
their livelihood in the textile industry. There’s no place I’d rather be, and I
think a lot of people would tell you the same thing. So we don’t want to lose
our manufacturing jobs, and textiles is something that we can definitely keep
here. We fight imports all the time and probably will continue to do so. But
we’re trying our best to innovate and create things that people can’t just go
Stephen Comer, 31, joined Glen Raven when he was obtaining higher education degrees, never thinking his career would cross paths with the company at a later date. But after earning his undergraduate and master’s degrees in history, he ditched the idea of seeking a Ph.D. to return full time to a company and an industry in which he respected and saw a great future.
Raven had been good to Stephen’s family and the small North Carolina community
in which he grew up. His first stint at the company as a material handler in
2013 opened his eyes to the possibilities of a career at a global textile
company. His aunt and uncle met at the company and have each worked there about
two decades, and Stephen recalls he was often able to visit his aunt’s
workplace when he was a pre-teen.
manufacturing in the U.S. wasn’t what it once was, but I knew that Glen Raven
was strong and was continuing to grow,” he says. “And I knew the company had
been around a long time, was a tight-knit, family-run company and a lot of
families worked there. So based on that, I felt like it was a strong, employee-focused
company to work for.”
returned to Glen Raven four years ago, starting as a lab analyst before moving
into his current role as manufacturing services coordinator last year. He
oversees new hire orientation and on-the-job training, in addition to managing
a large portion of the safety program.
the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Glen Raven’s Burlington plant shifted its primary production
focus from its highly advanced performance fabrics for upholstery, awnings,
shade and marine applications to its proprietary synthetic fiber mix for its
arc-flash, flame-retardant fabric. Apparel containing this fabric is worn by utility
and electrical workers that keep essential businesses, including hospitals and
healthcare facilities running.
[COVID-19] really shows the glaring need for textiles in the U.S. – not just for PPE, but also in general clothing and textiles. We use textiles in a number of different ways, and it’s important that we have fast access to those products.
seen during the COVID-19 crisis, it’s very important to have textiles here in
the U.S., so that we have supply lines and end products available in critical
times,” he says. “American quality is good quality. I know it might cost more
to make things here in the U.S. but we need it to be available here, especially
in times of need like today during the crisis. It really shows the glaring need
for textiles in the U.S. – not just for PPE, but also in general clothing and
textiles. We use textiles in a number of different ways, and it’s important
that we have fast access to those products.”
industry is proving its adaptability and importance during the pandemic –
something it has shown time and again during our nation’s times of need.
have a really adaptable group that’s used to being flexible and responsive. That
culture is already established, especially that safety culture, so I think it
made it a fairly seamless process,” Stephen says.
notes he is honored to work in an industry that has answered our nation’s call
and provides basic, high-quality essentials to its citizens.
don’t know a whole lot about textiles, but I’m proud to talk about what I do
and how important it is,” he says. “Obviously, my career is a lot shorter than
some, but I’ve seen how we’ve grown and pivoted and changed in just the short
amount of time that I’ve been here, and seen how resilient the industry is.”
production of textiles is imperative, as the critical need for PPE supply
exposed during the crisis. And Stephen says he hopes those decisionmakers who
hold the industry’s future in their hands have taken notice.
“I guess [the industry] has not gotten the credit it deserves, based on the fact a lot of textiles moved out of the U.S.,” he says. “But with this crisis, having things made here has proven how important it is.”
Textiles are in Basilio Medina’s blood – and he wouldn’t want it any other way. At 48, he has spent his entire 26-year career in the U.S. textile industry.
production coordinator at global fabric maker Glen Raven, Inc., based in the
central North Carolina town of the same name, Basilio is responsible for
cleaning and prepping equipment for color changes as high-tech yarn is
processed into advanced fabric.
for better opportunities, Basilio came to the U.S. from El Salvador in the 1990s
and landed at Dixie Yarns in N.C., where he worked as a machine operator and
technician, working there two years before that plant closed. After quickly
learning and becoming efficient in advanced technologies, the shuttering company
recommended he apply for a job at nearby Glen Raven, where he’s worked ever
since. He served as a section leader for 15 years before being promoted to his current
are now in his family’s blood, too. His brother, son three sisters-in-law and a
brother-in-law all work for Glen Raven.
here and in textiles has been a good experience, all these 26 years,” he says.
“It’s like a family. They care about their employees and they have good benefits.
There are people who have worked here for over 40 years. So I think this is a
very important business for the U.S. and for, especially people like me and my
the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the shortage of critical Personal Protective
Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers and others on the frontlines, many in
the U.S. textile industry stepped up to alter operations to produce these
essential goods. While others, like Basilio and his team, began producing inputs
used to create protective gear.
produced at Glen Raven’s Burlington plant, for example, is sent to a nearby plant
and woven into a highly technical fabric called GlenGuard®, an arc-flash,
flame-retardant, lightweight fabric that protect utility and electrical workers
who keep essential businesses, including hospitals and healthcare systems,
the crisis, Basilio and his group were called back to work after a one-day
furlough was instituted as businesses nationwide were closing. They were asked
to ramp up the amount of Glen Raven’s proprietary synthetic fiber mix to boost
production of the company’s GlenGuard® product. Practically overnight, the
plant shifted its focus from making its signature Sunbrella® line of
solution-dyed acrylic yarns used in indoor/outdoor fabrics, to creating blends needed
for protective apparel fabric.
COVID-19 shut down the textile plant, the company quickly realized that our
GlenGuard product would open a big opportunity for us to keep running and help
our country,” Basilio says.
I think it’s important to make products here because it gives Americans jobs and helps take care of and feed families.
The pandemic certainly proved the importance of the
textile industry to the health, well-being and safety of U.S. citizens. But its
value is apparent in many other ways, including supporting American families
it’s important to make products here because it gives Americans jobs and helps
take care of and feed families,” Basilio says. “Textiles is a very important
business for families that maybe didn’t go to college. I would rather work in
textiles than work in construction or anywhere else. I’m happy doing what I do
every day for all these years.”
says he can’t see himself doing anything but textiles for the rest of his
career, so he stressed that lawmakers should consider the livelihoods of
thousands of Americans whenever legislation comes up that involves the
“To keep jobs here, especially in textiles, is very important,” he says. “If these companies disappear, where are we going to find a job? I think they [lawmakers] need to carry the load and make sure these jobs are not shipped overseas. I think they can work it out to even bring some jobs back here, and I think we will be in a better position in the future.”
Rhina Quintanilla, 40, has been working in the U.S. textile industry for half of her life.
Over the past 20 years she has worked her way up the ladder to her current position as a Vision Technician at Shawmut Corp. In the quality control department, Rhina uses Shelton automated inspection technology to photograph fabric on the production line to assess its quality.
A mother of two and an immigrant from El
Salvador, Rhina has weathered many ups and downs in her life, but the jobs she
has held in textile factories over those years have given her not only a means
to make a living but also new skills and training on advanced technologies that
help the industry innovate and compete in a global world.
Rhina, along with tens of thousands of textile
workers, has helped drive the U.S. industry through one of its darkest chapters
in history—the COVID-19 pandemic.
a sister that works in the hospital, and she tells me about how they didn’t
have a lot of protective equipment; but now it’s coming in, and they’re glad
that’s being produced and given to them. She’s a phlebotomist here in
Burlington [N.C.]. So to me, it’s personal,” Rhina says.
been confronted with many challenges during the health crisis, including a
weeklong furlough, before being called back in to ramp up production on fabrics
for medical gowns.
“Personally, we had to change our mindset and
the way we were used to doing things to accommodate in a [fast] pace producing
new products,” she says.
Shawmut traditionally produces headliner
composites, technical textiles and lamination, including in the automotive
division of Shawmut where Rhina works.
Being part of a larger effort by the industry
to retool production lines and pivot to PPE production to address the severe
shortage of critical PPE items like gowns, face masks, and isolation curtains
has been rewarding for Rhina.
“We were given a lot of good tools and already
had some ourselves to make that product work as good as it’s working now. And
it means that the people who need it are getting it and having it when they
need it,” she says.
The textile industry runs through Rhina’s
family and through her own personal story with her husband.
“I did not go to school for textiles; but because those were the jobs that were available as I was reaching the age of adulthood, that’s what was around, textiles. And I just feel like I’ve been blessed to have been given the opportunity with Shawmut to grow and learn a lot more about textiles, different types of fabrics.” Rhina adds.
Her father worked at Copland Fabrics, also
based in Burlington, North Carolina, for 15 years, and Rhina says she met her
husband, Juan, in Burlington as well.
Juan, who moved to North Carolina from El
Salvador 13 years ago, also has roots in the U.S. textile industry, first
working for Cortina Fabrics and now working at the same company—Shawmut—as
If [we] produce material here, that’s helping people all across the United States. If there’s more places that would do this, they could, in cases like this pandemic, have faster access to the materials that they need.
Rhina sees her role in making PPE and
automotive products in America in this way:
“I feel that if [we] produce
material here, that’s helping people all across the United States. If there’s
more places that would do this, they could, in cases like this pandemic, have faster
access to the materials that they need.”
Domestic production is important because it
provides “security, knowing that we’re doing something good for many people.
It’s very family-like here. They always let us know what’s going on and it
feels very family oriented,” she says.
As lawmakers on Capitol Hill introduce bills to
expand domestic PPE production; reduce our country’s overreliance on
foreign-made goods, particularly from China; and solidify production in the
U.S., it is people like Rhina Quintanilla who are working every day to make
medical-related textiles to help frontline workers.
Rhina says she has learned that textiles is a
“difficult business that can disappear quickly.”
“And from seeing other places, jobs can just
kind of vanish or be sent overseas,” she adds.
That is why it is important to her during the
pandemic in particular to show members of Congress and the public how flexible,
efficient and important the industry is to not only PPE production but a whole
host of other critical textiles, including the automotive business.
She also says domestic production of PPE is
critical to keep the supply chain prepared for the future.
live in a big country where a lot of this stuff is needed and used, and to have
it produced here is much needed,” she says.
Her message to Capitol Hill is simple and direct:
“What we do here right now is being produced here, and I feel it’s important because like I said, for the gown business, we have it, it’s ready and it’s accessible faster than having to wait for it to get here.”
Khurm Hussain, 41, is a second-generation textile worker and immigrant from Pakistan. He earned his Textile Engineering degree from Thomas Jefferson Universityand has worked with Greensboro, NC-based Unifi, Inc. for the past 20 years.
his career at Unifi as a management trainee— moving from plant to plant,
department to department, learning technical processes like spinning, texturizing,
loading, creeling, putting up ends and solution-dyeing color development. At
the same time, he increased his knowledge of design and product development working
at various Unifi facilities throughout North Carolina and abroad.
Khurm was assigned to Unifi’s REPREVE® Recycling Center, through which the
company developed and collaborated with other organizations for the production
of REPREVE® recycled materials made from post-consumer bottle and pre-consumer
years since, Khurm has become an important ambassador for the REPREVE® brand,
which he believes offers value-added product differentiated from low-cost
alternatives produced by foreign competitors.
to advancing sustainability and innovation in the domestic textile industry,
Khurm says: “[REPREVE is] based on sustainability. We have a razor-sharp focus.
We can add additional technologies on a sustainable platform and have REPREVE
PLUS in our product portfolio.
Unifi’s REPREVE® brand, launched
in 2007, has transformed more than 20 billion plastic bottles into recycled
fiber for apparel, shoes, home-textiles and recycled rPET for nonwoven, consumer
packaging goods, thermoform containers for many of the leading brands.
of the mill, Khurm is a family man who strives to give back to his community. He
and his wife of 16 years have three kids—two daughters, eleven and seven years
old, and a son, five. Unlike Khurm, who was born in Northern Ireland, each of
his children were born in Winston-Salem, where he’s proud to have established his
attributes the supportive, close-knit culture at Unifi as a source of support
in making his home in the U.S.: “In my 20 years, I think I’ve been fortunate
that Unifi challenged me and gave me new opportunities to explore. I feel like
it’s a part of my extended family. They’re always there to help you. They helped
with accommodation, logistics and even applied for my American citizenship. They
want you to stick around for a long time and we are doing the same for the younger
talented folks that are coming into the profession.”
wife was also part of the industry. She left Pakistan for the U.S. when they
got married and she earned an accounting degree from Salem College. Shortly
after she worked for Hanesbrands until the Sara Lee spin off. Together, Khurm
and his wife are dedicated to raising their kids and bettering their
neighborhood community: “We’ve made good friends outside of work. I spend more
time at Unifi, but [in] the community at large I’ve tried to get involved as
much as I can.”
COVID-19 pandemic has spawned new sustainability initiatives in the form of
reusable PPE, such as gowns, wipes and facemasks. For Khurm, such opportunities
provide a sense of optimism and innovation to his work. “We are innovative … and
getting more innovative … With mask breathability, we’re applying cross-sectional
technology, so it channels some of the moisture away and provides adequate airflow.
And then you can wash it, reuse it, over and over again… Now, everywhere you
go, every airplane, every ball game, you’re going to be using a mask to reduce
the spread of the virus. The question is, do you want to use a single use mask
that you’re going to throw away, or do you want a reusable product? No matter
which mask you choose, why could it not be made out of sustainable materials?”
We hear from brands who want to switch their supply chain. We have the automation, innovation and the people to compete and provide something better for the consumer.
A focus on sustainability carries additional benefits, like social responsibility and a stronger supply chain with regional trading partners. However, to realize some of these benefits, Khurm knows there’s still work to be done. In regard to reshoring production and developing critical supply chains, Khurm states, “I think when we come together as an industry to make gowns or masks or any other protective wear, we have enough capacity in the region. We hear from brands who want to switch their supply chain. We have the automation, innovation and the people to compete and provide something better for the consumer.”
on sustainability carries additional benefits, like social responsibility and a
stronger supply chain with regional trading partners. However, to realize some
of these benefits, Khurm knows there’s still work to be done. In regard to
reshoring production and developing critical supply chains, Khurm states, “I
think when we come together as an industry to make gowns or masks or any other
protective wear, we have enough capacity in the region. We hear from brands who
want to switch their supply chain. We have the automation, innovation and the
people to compete and provide something better for the consumer.”
end, Khurm sees the U.S. textile industry’s shift to PPE production as a prime
opportunity for achieving these goals, “I think with coming together on the
PPE, they are recognizing some of what we can do… I would love for them to
enforce that all PPE should be made in the region, so in the case that we have
anymore outbreaks, we are equipped… We need [more support] to have more
stabilization in the region. The brands would love to come back to this region.
If Capitol Hill would look into it, then there’ll be more capital invested in
passion for his work is also a source of personal fulfilment that has allowed
him to develop deep interpersonal connections and take part in something larger
than himself: “I’m a second-generation textile guy. My dad has been in the
textile industry for the last 40 years. I saw he has a comfortable life. And I
was like, I want to follow that path. I learned a lot from my dad. Now, we can
talk the same—denier, filament, barre. Now we’re talking about PPE.”
pandemic is an eye opener on many levels. We just don’t need to be working
competitively. Let’s work together and provide something that’s a win-win
situation for the industry—made in the USA and protect lives.”
To that end, Khurm sees the U.S. textile industry’s shift to PPE production as a prime opportunity for achieving these goals, “I think with coming together on the PPE, they are recognizing some of what we can do… I would love for them to enforce that all PPE should be made in the region, so in the case that we have anymore outbreaks, we are equipped … We need [more support] to have more stabilization in the region. The brands would love to come back to this region. If Capitol Hill would look into it, then there’ll be more capital invested in the region.”
Khurm’s passion for his work is also a source of personal fulfilment that has allowed him to develop deep interpersonal connections and take part in something larger than himself: “I’m a second-generation textile guy. My dad has been in the textile industry for the last 40 years. I saw he has a comfortable life. And I was like, I want to follow that path. I learned a lot from my dad. Now, we can talk the same—denier, filament, barre. Now we’re talking about PPE.”
“This pandemic is an eye opener on many levels. We just don’t need to be working competitively. Let’s work together and provide something that’s a win-win situation for the industry—made in the USA and protecting lives.”
Mobilizing Support for the U.S. Textile Industry in the 21st Century: The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) is a unique association representing the entire spectrum of the textile industry.