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Textile & Sewn Products Industry News

SEAMS Celebrates Anniversary with Conference Focused on the
Next 50 Years


SEAMS ushered in the next 50 years with a record setting number of attendees of over 150 at its annual Spring Networking Conference. The conference was held May 16 – 17, 2017 in Asheville, NC at the Grove Park Inn and was entitled “Shaping the Next 50 Years”.

The conference began the morning of June 16th when IFB Solutions… graciously opened their doors and provided SEAMS conference attendees the opportunity to tour their facility. The tours were well attended and eye opening for those that had never visited a non-sighted production work environment. Special thanks to Randy Buckner, Director of Operations, and the rest of the IFB Solutions team for hosting and organizing such an exceptional experience. To learn more about IFB Solutions and the SEAMS tour Click Here.

After another successful golf tournament concluded the afternoon of the 16th, the conference kicked-off that evening with a well-attended Welcoming Reception and Dinner. Prior to dinner SEAMS honored their long-standing member companies, 20 or more years of support, that were in attendance by presenting each with an honorary plaque. Aiken Industries took the prize as the longest tenured member with 50 years and awarded owner Cary Freidman with a special plaque.

Following the member appreciation ceremony, the retirement of Sarah Friedman as Executive Director of SEAMS was announced. Sarah’s 29 years of support of SEAMS which included 19 serving as Executive Director, was recognized. However, during our Fall Networking Conference there will be a special tribute and recognition of Sarah’s extreme commitment to the SEAMS Association which you will not want to miss (for Conference details see below). Additionally, it was announced that Will Duncan and Associates (WDA) has been contracted to perform management, administration, and marketing services for SEAMS. And, that Will Duncan will now serve as the Executive Director. For Press Release Click Here.

The next morning started with a Networking Breakfast. Immediately afterwards began a full day of Speakers, facilitated breakout sessions, a fireside chat and panel. Presentations were as follows and are available on the SEAMS website. Click titles below for individual presentations:

Keynote Presentations:

“Sewn in the USA” - Sharon Graubard, Founder and Creative Director, MintModa

  1. Recognize that we are at the start of a major Made-in-American movement, and all of you at Seams are — or can be — a part of it.
  2. Tell Your Story — Show what you do, how you do it, and what your product looks like. Can potential customers find out about you easily?
  3. Engage with the community, both inside and outside the company. Show you care about employees, neighbors, clients, and the world at large.

“Attracting and Retaining Talent” - Dan Garrison, Human Resources Vice President, Milliken & Company

  1. Find The Candidate:  In a difficult labor market, organizations must develop a strategy to find and recruit talent in their labor markets.
  2. Retain the Candidate:  We must develop and use metrics to understand our successes.  We have to engage the workforce and create an open environment of transparency.  We want to build a team and a family.
  3. Time are Changing:  Organizations must adapt to the changing workforce.  This will force us to look at our policies and practices.

“The World of Tradeshows” – Dennis Smith, President Messe Frankfurt - US & Mexico: Moderator: Will Duncan, Executive Director SEAMS, and C.E.O Will Duncan & Associates

  1. Like most industries today, technology is impacting the trade show industry as well. The entire attendee experience is being impacted with greater visual conveyance of information as well as interactive displays.
  2. Though digital or virtual trade shows are emerging, it is doubtful they will replace traditional trade shows within the near future.
  3. Texprocess, will be held May 18 – 22, 2018 in Atlanta, GA. Visitors can expect a strong focus on advancements focusing on new technology, robotics and the IOT. This will be visible through the Educational Symposiums, Tech Talks on the show floor and displayed by exhibitors throughout both Texprocess Americas and Techtextil North America.

“What’s Up in Washington” - Steve Lamar, Executive Vice President, AAFA

  1. Now is a time to get engaged as Administration and Congress explore changes to tax and trade policy. Focus of new Administration is on jobs and manufacturing, but that doesn’t necessary mean that every issue associated with jobs and manufacturing will get time and attention this Congress.  Priorities will get attention.
  2. NAFTA is facing a close examination as negotiations begin to modernize it, but we can expect reviews of all other trade agreements and programs.  It remains unclear exactly what the Administration will do with NAFTA. Beyond NAFTA, the Administration has made multiple requests for information on other trade agreements, and preference programs.  It remains unclear what they will do with this information or when they will act on it.
  3. The Administration has been bogged down with transition issues (filling vacancies), political distractions, and a full legislative calendar.  While there is historically precedent that a new Administration can get things done during the first year, this Administration and Congress may have a difficult time achieving legislative wins.  Much of what has been accomplished so far has involved undoing elements of the Obama legacy.  Progress beyond that will be difficult, and become increasingly difficult as next year’s election season approaches.

“The Supply Chain Revolution” – Bill D’Arienzo, Owner, WDA Brand Marketing

  1. Supply chains are becoming more strategic (think responsible for all component parts & end-to-end planning),and smaller suppliers need to re-think how they do business...it requires a bigger footprint which can take one of two forms or both: Smaller Suppliers should:
    a. Collaborate in a consortium with competitors offering deeper expertise and faster speed to market to the supply chain.
    b. Join in a consortium of complementary functions that are three or four sequential services to offer tighter, seamless integrated execution of services, generating faster and more error-less responses to supply chain needs.
  2. Brand each new consortium; generate a narrative that tells how and why this was done and communicate this to the Supply Chain managers. Have the narrative mirror that of the supply chains values that you serve.
  3. Become consultants to the supply chains you serve...pivot away from sales techniques ( e.g."... always be closing...") and pivot towards customer needs (" always be solving").. to do so, know their business as well as or better than they do...in every strategic detail, not just those aligned with your service functions. Present your solutions through the language of your new brand. Each consortium will then be seen as the go to and as serious partners, rather than as lowest price competitors wherein one can be played against the other.

The following breakout sessions and panel discussion were well attended and extremely insightful.

Breakout Sessions:
Session I: Availability of US Textiles - Moderator: Ron Roach, President, Contempora Fabrics
Session II: Value Added Contract Services - Moderator: Jackson Burnett, President, Vapor Textiles
Session III: Domestic Production & the Trade War - Moderator: Michael Woody, CEO, Trans-Tex

Panel Discussion:
“Opportunities in Non-Apparel Sewn Products” – Panelists: Jeremy Wooten, President and CFO at HomTex, Inc, Pat Hickey, President Minnesota Knitting Mills, Sherri Hungate, Vice President Business Development, Goodwill Industries South Florida, Frank Henderson, C.E.O Henderson Sewing Machine Company

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