BTSR/Airbond Splicers (PAF Sales)
BTSR/Airbond Splicers (PAF Sales)
DeSales Trading Co.
DeSales Trading Co.
Frankl & Thomas
Frankl & Thomas
Lang Ligon & Co.
Manufacturing & Textile Innovation Network
Manufacturing & Textile Innovations Network
Manufacturing & Textile Innovation Network
Manufacturing & Textile Innovation Network
Textile industry reps show up en masse / in masks at TTNA21
Posted September 2, 2021
By Devin Steele
RALEIGH, N.C. – Techtextil North America, which took place last week for the first time since February 2019, resembled those pre-pandemic good ol’ days in many ways – but at the same time felt completely different.
Masks and often awkward greetings ranging from fist bumps to elbow taps and, eventually in many cases, to old-fashioned handshakes between old friends and new was the order of the three-day show, which was staged August 23-25. City-mandated face covering regulations often made it difficult to breathe for some during the 90+ degree days that could not be fully tamped down inside, even with the AC pumping full blast in the lower level of the Raleigh Convention Center.
Still, the show represented a return of sorts for the textile industry after 18+ months of lockdowns and virtual meetings.
And that meant everything for many exhibitors and visitors champing at the bit to get back out among customers and friends.
With expectations low to moderate for many as the Delta variant continued to spread, the show turned out to be better than expected for most of those who responded to our questionnaire. Here, in Part 1 of our coverage, are show reports of some of those exhibitors, posted in alphabetical order.
A.B. Carter Product Manager Ernest Sumner said the show “definitely exceeded our expectations. It seemed to be very well attended, and we were able to meet with many current customers and develop relationships with new ones. After a year limited to mostly virtual meetings and emails being back in a live setting was very refreshing.”
The Gastonia, N.C.-based company’s Mesdan Air Splicing and MesdanLab Testing Equipment product lines, along with its newly developed GS Series Steel Traveler, continued to be well received by customers, he added. “We look forward to furthering these conversations in the coming weeks.”
Although foot traffic was “light” throughout the exhibit hall, “it was great to be alongside our peers and able to engage in meaningful conversations with potential buyers and suppliers,” said Apex’s John McMichael, Sales and Business Development. “After participating in a trade show just over a month ago, our expectations regarding attendance/participation were realistic. The increase in COVID cases and the major storm (Hurricane Ida) in the Northeast certainly had an effect. With that said, we did speak with several companies about the projects they’re working on and show them the variety of custom solutions Apex Mills can deliver.”
He continued: ““It’s hard to put into words how great it was to be back in the mix again. Seeing friends and colleagues for the first time in over 18 months was awesome.”
Stephanie Rodgers, senior director of R&D and Innovation Textiles, added that the educational sessions on sustainability provided deep thought on how the textile supply chain can integrate with technology platforms to enable speed to market and accuracy in product development. Future manufacturing concepts, machine learning and robotic or automated processes in textiles were highlighted as necessary advancements for North America to compete in the global industry, she added.
“Digital development is taking shape at many brand companies and are expected to streamline the cycle, accelerate decision-making and reduce waste and cost,” Rodgers said. “Companies must adapt to digitalization with a progressive stepwise approach.”
McMichael noted that there is no substitution for the physical connections made with people in a live setting.
“Our team thrives when we do what we do best – talk about our technical capabilities and show samples of our fabrics,” he said. “Our industry is hands-on; the instant feedback gained when we learn about the challenges our customers face and partner with them to create the right textile for their application is a true value to all involved.”
Apex Mills continues to speak about and generate interest for its wide-format fabrics that are perfect for projection screens, shading and other outdoor purposes, Rodgers pointed out. Although the company didn’t highlight a specific product for this show, it brought samples to reintroduce the full range of fabrics it’s capable of producing such as mesh, solid knit and 3D spacer fabrics.
“We wanted all visitors to our booth to have a solid understanding of our capabilities,” Rodger said.
Baldwin Technology, St. Louis, Mo., highlighted its TexCoat™ solution, which is designed to enable the most eco-friendly and efficient application of water and chemicals such as finishing chemistries to fabrics and other surfaces as part of textile production processes.
“As long as I have been in the industry, buzzwords tend to come and go, but sustainability is real and here to stay,” said Rick Stanford. “Brands, retailers and manufacturers are looking for more sustainable approaches in manufacturing. At ITMA, visitors would stop by our booth because they wanted to know what we were exhibiting. Now, they know that TexCoat™ is a replacement for padding on textile finishes that saves chemistry, water and energy. Now they seek us out at trade shows as a solution, not just a curiosity.”
Given the pandemic spike, the bar was set low heading in the show, he added. However, TTNA21 turned out to be better than expectations even for a normal year, he said.
“The quality of visitors was excellent, and some visitors came in large groups,” Stanford said. “We attribute it to pent-up demand and just the desire to try and get back to some sense of normalcy.”
He continued: “As the case for most, I suspect, this is our first live trade show since ITMA 2019. It was awesome from a business perspective but also on a personal level to interact with people in person. Zoom meetings are great and a useful tool, but there is no substitute for face-to-face conversations.”
BTSR / Airbond Splicers
Italy-based BTSR and U.S.-based Airbond Splicers, represented in North America by PAF Sales, Kernersville, N.C., reported that the tradeshow far exceeded its expectation.
“Going in, with the conditions of the never-ending pandemic, I knew it would be a 50/50 at best shot at getting people to come,” said Scott Yates, PAF general manager. “They did come – more than i expected. Their comments across the board were, ‘we are tired of just surviving. We have to get back to who we are and innovate.’ How rewarding.”
Getting “back in action” in a live setting felt “like a breath of fresh air or that first morning cup of coffee,” Yates added. “People still sell to people no matter what technology exists. And last week we got to do just that.”
Within the BTSR product lines, its latest constant tension feeders were the hit, he said. “As a matter of fact, we sold one feeder there at the show,” he said.
For Airbond produces splicers, the top hit was splicing technology for high-tenacity yarns.
“We had 50 plus leads and it was split 50/50 between the two companies,” Yates, said.
Contempora Fabrics’ Sales and Marketing rep Jennifer K. Jones said her staff was “pleasantly surprised” to see such a great turnout at TTNA21.
“We were all pleasantly surprised to see such a great turn out,” she said. “That being said, we really didn't know what to expect after a year and a half of limited travel. Our booth was very busy.”
Jones added that there was “great energy” at the show and “It felt good to see everyone again and make some meaningful connections. It was kind of surreal at times to see that many people all in one place again.”
Contempora Fabrics, which at full capacity is capable of producing more than 2 million pounds of fabric per month on more than 200 circular machines, featured most of its fabrics plus its new electronic eyelet Jacquard fabrics knitted on a machine that Monarch Knitting specialty built for the company.
“It's meant to accent our team sport business with some fancier items that can be used as inserts,” said President Ron Roach said. “It's been very well received. This is the only machine like this in this hemisphere.”
The machine can knit unlimited patterns, and produces a true open hole mesh, unlike most circular knitting machines.
“The N.C. State Alums loved our giveaway of the Tuffy (mascot) pattern designed by our 2021 summer intern, Shannon Gill,” said Jones, referring to the junior at the N.C. State Wilson College of Textiles.
Daikin America, Inc.
Chemical supplier Daikin America reported a better-than-expected TTNA21.
“We saw many existing customers we have not seen in 17 months,” said Thomas Poston, the company’s senior key account executive, Surface Modification Technologies. “We met many potential customers with exciting ideas that need repellent chemistry.”
Located just to the right of the escalator down to the show floor, Daikin’s booth saw a large, stream stream of customers and friends move in when the show opened at 10 a.m. on August 23, he said.
“It was as if I’d awaken from hibernating for 17 months and started to live again!,” Poston said.
Daikin America featured C6 water/oil repellents, made in Decatur, Ala., and with U.S. manufacturing, has experienced minimal supply disruption, which is important, he added.
The company also highlighted its oleophobic/hydrophilic chemistry that is unique to the industry. Daikin recently received TSCA registration on another FL-free durable water repellent that offers dynamic repellency, and it saw interest in all of its products.
Milan-based Datatex, with U.S. operations in Alpharetta, Ga., highlighted its Now Sales App this week at Techtextil North America – its first show since COVID began its global spread.
“It’s a tablet-based app for your sales team to go out and meet with their customers,” said Shannon McCarthy, vice president of Operations and Business Development, who is based in Alpharetta, Ga. “They can show a dashboard of order history, or pull up invoices or shipping bills and those kind of things, but they can also take orders.”
Datatex is one of the world’s leading suppliers of IT software solutions for the global textile and apparel Industry with the largest install base of textile software, and customers in 45 countries and on five continents.
“I have pleased with the show,” McCarthy said. “We had a good number of visitors and quite a few that have an urgent need for an improved information system, whether for traceability/sustainability requirements or a better scheduling tool to help get more production out of limited resources.”
He added that it felt good to be at a show rubbing elbows again. “In addition to the new faces and opportunities quite a few of our existing customers stopped by to say hello and discuss business,” he said. “Plus it was nice to see friends from the industry in person again.”
DeSales Trading Company
DeSales Trading Company, Burlington, N.C., said the show was able to allow visitors to know that the company “is still alive after the year and six months of COVID restrictions,” said Michael Murray, vice president at the family-owned business that buys and sells commodity textile yarns.
“Raleigh is a great venue due to the ease of the RDU Airport and the ease of the city center area,” he said.
The biggest attraction to its stand the slit neoprene rubber & poly isoprene tape, along with its slit latex rubber thread, Murray said.
“Over the past two years and the absence of shows it has become painfully obvious of how dependent the majority of the textile industry is on face-to-face communications and how Techtextil North America plays a central role in creating these opportunities throughout the year,” said Nick Lane, account manager for the Belgium-based company who is based in Greenville, S.C.
He added that the show exceeded expectations simply by taking place and by offering a safe means to meet with friends/customers and to discuss business.
“It was great to be out – safely – and refreshing to see how effective a live setting can be after two years of Zoom calls,” Lane said. “Zoom-type calls are still great, but organic, face-to-face conversations can’t be beat.”
Devan focuses on sustainable technologies to help the textile industry produce durable, eco-friendly solutions. Such technologies are of great interest in the current climate as brands and retailers seek to lower their carbon footprint and enhance circularity of their products, Lane said.
The highlight products this season were plant-based softeners and plant-based, quick-dry products, each with certified bio content and lower cure temperatures to help mills and brands reach their sustainability goals.
Frankl & Thomas
Frankl & Thomas (F&T), a systems, machines, parts and equipment supplier for textile manufacturing, highlighted its principles’ products from around the world, and showcased for the first time nonwovens machinery producer Ramina S.r.L.
Earlier this year, the company announced that it now represents the Italy-based company in the U.S.
Ramina manufactures machines and turnkey plants for the nonwoven industry starting from fiber processing up to the realization of finished products in rolls or panels for the building industry, the furniture industry, the automotive industry and other industrial sectors. Ramina also produces machines and turnkey plants for the PET bottle recycling industry, from the selection of post-consumption bottles to the realization of flakes to be used in the spinning spunbond process, and in the short spinning lines for the production of fiber.
Ramina products, and those from Nippon Nozzle, attracted great interest at the show, according to F&T Vice President & General Manager Michael Alexander.
The show exceeded expectations “by far,” he said, adding that it felt “fantastic” to get back in front of people.”
Hohenstein, a global leader in in textile testing and textile research for more than 70 years, reported that a good variety of its visitors were interested in several of its testing and certification services.
The interest in sustainability topics, especially OEKO-TEX®, GMO quantification and lifecycle analysis, was noticeably higher than in the past, said Casey Strauch, U.S. marketing manager.
“We also found active audiences for our presentations on 3D prototyping and digitized materials,” she said. “This mirrors the trends we’ve been seeing in general, as our industry and consumers have become more conscious of textile sustainability and digital design.”
Hohenstein’s Manager Director, Ben Mead, presented during a symposium session and said, “as I talked about 3D materials and digital fitting, I really got a lot of energy returned from the audience and a lot of people intentionally coming to the booth wanting to talk about it,” he said. “Three or four basically came to the booth and started talking about it before we even got through the formality of introductions.”
Strauch added that this was Hohenstein’s first show in the “new era,” and her team wasn’t sure what to expect, especially coming in as a number of attendees cancelled plans to attend.
“But this show turned out so well that we booked our May 2022 Techtextil North America booth on the second day of this show,” she said.
Mead said that he agreed with Strauch’s assessment, “even if it’s hard to quantify people we knew and even people we didn’t know seemed so genuinely happy to have conversations in person that our meetings were high quality. It definitely exceeded expectations.”
Industrial Lab Equipment
Charlotte, N.C.-based Industrial Lab Equipment (ILE) owner Harry Simmons said the show was “great,” with attendance better than he expected.
ILE manufactures a wide range of testing instruments for the textile, chemical, paper and related industries. It also supplies and offers instruments from most other instrument manufacturers. Service and spare parts are available for all ILE testing instruments and for most other brands.
The company’s Color Card winder CB-2 had the most interest along with general QC instruments, Simmons said.
Lang Ligon & Co.
Harrell Ligon of Greenville, S.C.-based Lang Ligon & Co., an agent for a number of international textile suppliers, said the show was about what he expected, given the resurging interest in COVID-19 fears.
“But we actually had one half day that was quite good, although the rest of the time was too quiet,” he said. “While it was good to have the trappings of the good old days, the empty aisles in every direction sagged my ebullience.”
MMI Textiles, based in Westlake, Ohio, with a new narrow weaving plant in Lenoir, N.C., saw great interest in its SAM1 and SAM2 stretch woven products, and the company ran low on marketing materials for that line, according to Nick Rivera, chief operating officer.
“Because we have a diverse offering, it was easy in discussing various solutions with customers,” he said.
Rivera added that the show was successful, given the pandemic fears, and the Raleigh location brings in a lot of customers and suppliers from the region. “I think the show was pretty well attended and had a good mix of different markets,” he said.
He continued: “I thought this was great to be back in the live setting. You can get a lot more accomplished in my opinion in a face-to-face environment. I thought that most people attending the show felt the same way, as well.”
Manufacturing & Textile Innovation Network
Under the umbrella of the new Manufacturing & Textile Innovation Network (MTIN), the Manufacturing Solutions Center (MSC) at Catawba Valley Community College and the Textile Technology Center (TTC) at Gaston College exhibited in a combined booth as allied entities in Raleigh.
During the pandemic, the MSC and the TTC formed a unique partnership that aligns the two centers to streamline its services. The partnership promotes the two centers’ services such as product development, prototyping, testing, entrepreneurship, training and beyond.
“It was exciting to introduce and highlight this dynamic partnership to the industry at this show,” said Jody Geis, director of the MSC. “Techtextil North America met as well as exceeded my expectations. Being from North Carolina, and feeling the ‘temperature’ of the state at the time, I wasn’t sure there would be much participation or that the show would even be held. So upon arriving Monday morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see all the camaraderie. The volume only seemed to increase on Tuesday as I looked around the different halls. So I was blown away when the traffic didn’t really seem to slow until Wednesday around lunch time in our booth.”
Geis added that seeing industry friends and business acquaintances – live and in person – was heartwarming and melted – most of – her fears of traveling away.
Frank Little, sales manager at Piedmont Chemicals, High Point, N.C., had set the bar low in terms of expectations for TTNA21, largely due to negative publicity related to the COVID-19 Delta variant, he said.
“I know of several folks who decided not to attend at the last minute due to these concerns,” he said. “Overall, my expectations were just barely met. Attendance was a bit soft, but could have been worse. The bright side is the quality of customer interactions that we did have was quite high. We left the show with a long list of contacts to follow up with.”
Functional finishes for performance textiles drove a lot of people to the Piedmont booth, he pointed out.
Little added that it felt good to be at an in-person event again, in spite of the mandate that all attendees had to wear masks inside the Raleigh Convention Center.
Expectations were surpassed for SDL Atlas, Rock Hill, S.C., according to Business Development Manager John Crocker.
“SDL Atlas has traditionally exhibited at the show in order meet with our customers, both exhibiting and attending,” he said. “With the current increasing status of COVID, we had concerns that a number of our clients would back out, but were pleasantly surprised with the number and the quality of the leads we received. In addition to the networking, we closed a number of projects that had been outstanding.”
Brian Francois, general manager for the Americas and Europe, agreed. “We were optimistic when we registered for the show, but the Delta variant made me a bit pessimistic going in. With that said, we were pleasantly surprised with the volume and quality of the contacts we made during the show. It was nice start as we hopefully exit this crazy virus.”
Getting back to in-person interactions and out of Zoom meetings felt like “a welcome shower after working outside in the August heat,” Crocker said. “After a 20+ month hiatus, being able to speak face to face, even from behind masks, with customers made me realize how much I truly love my job.”
At the show, SDL Atlas was running its Martindale abrasion device, which always draws interest, Crocker said, as well as a Dry Rate Tester and Moisture Management tester to discuss measure-wicking properties of textiles. It also had a poster of one of its premier devices, the Vortex M6, which is designed to meet and exceed AATCC requirements for washing.
Toray had more traffic through its booth than personnel expected and more of the conversations were about innovation and “what can we do to differentiate ourselves,” said Jim Ranson, president and CEO at Toray Fluorofibers (America), Inc.
“It feels like people are looking forward with a clear perception of what it will take to succeed,” he said.
Ranson added that wearing a mask all day was uncomfortable, but everyone was respectful of the condition. “The ability to talk one on one or in a small group face to face was great. I would say it only took a few minutes to feel reconnected and in the space.”
Toray did not highlight a specific new product, but instead was focused on having its customers and other visitors see new possibilities for its products. The company featured a few new applications, not to specifically sell interest in those applications but to kindle the thought of what else could be done with PTFE fiber, Ranson said.
“We talked about a using our fiber to create a gas diffusion layer in an aerospace/rocket application,” he said. “And we talked about how advancements in our materials used in industrial ion exchange systems could help developments in specialty energy storage designs. Not everyone wanted to go there but they were great ways to start a conversation on what might be. Overall, the response was very good. I believe we got more than a handful of really interested partners.”
Wolff Industries Inc.
Kalen Caple, ICS product manager for Spartanburg, S.C.-based Wolff Industries Inc., the world's largest manufacturer of industrial and professional scissors sharpeners, said he was pleased with traffic at Techtextil North America.
“The show actually exceeded my expectations,” he said. “The reason was due to COVID and mask wearing at the show. I am completely OK with wearing a mask if it means I can get in front of people again to start getting back to normal. The traffic was considerably higher than I anticipated because of the rules put into place by the city, but I was happy to know that a lot of people are just ready to see people again and get back into action. I met more new potential customers at this particular trade show then I ever had before. Most of the time it’s keeping in touch with normal clients, but this was basically
reversed where I had 95% new business and 5% normal follow-up and retention.”
Returning to live setting felt a little “awkward, like the first time you ride a bicycle without training wheels,” Caple said, “but the feeling that people are ready to get back to business felt amazing. It has been pretty hard on everyone to go from hustle and bustle and business to just scraping by. It was a hard mental flip to go from nothing to everything and It’s still very hard mentally because now I’m trying to remember everything for trade shows and not forget anything – on top of what to do after the trade show, which is just constant follow-up and creating conversations.”
Wolff’s highlight product was its new 6394,6387, 6294 and 6287 scissors made in America. The company is the last American-made stamped scissors producer, Caple said. The firm already has seen several orders come from the show for those items.
“Most people at the show were looking for scissors that were readily available with no constraints,” Caple said. “With a lot of shipping and logistics slowing down and supply issues, people need scissors and other items in order to keep producing. We have not had any supply constraints because half of our scissors are American made from American raw materials.”
Techtextil North America met the expectations of cutting systems supplier Zund America, Oak Creek, Wis., under “certain circumstances,” according to Andy Arkin, regional sales manager, Southeastern States Fabrics & Industrial.
“We are finding that in all of the live shows we have done year to date, attendees are quality leads and ‘looking’ for solutions,” he said. “It’s not about quantity, but quality of attendees. Techtextil was no different.”
Arkin added that it felt great to see so many attendees at the show.
“Nothing is better, although masks make it difficult to talk, listen and express feelings,” he said. “Thank goodness virtual trade shows are over. We had little success with that method.”
Zund featured three new solutions at the show: the latest version of its Zund Cut Center Software with numerous features; a “Visualizer” option for projecting directly onto the cut parts any data the customer wants presented along with labelling and marking capabilities; and a Cradle Feeder 100 with Cut-Off for textiles and roll goods feeding directly onto the cutter, synchronized with the cutter conveyor belt to eliminate any stretch/distortion and keep the material perfectly aligned to the cutter. The latter also is equipped with a built-in cutter for auto cutting at the end of the cut job for easy removal of rolls. This new model has a built in a smart touch screen interface for easy setup and configuration of material settings, along with a storage library for all material types for fast setup.”