Our goal is to engage Spanish companies with American companies in order to build fruitful partnerships.
Spanish textile machinery group head building bridges
Posted October 22, 2020
(Editor’s note: Following is a Q&A with Alejandro Gallego Alcaide, business unit manager of amec amtex, the Barcelona-based Spanish textile machinery association, which is organizing virtual meetings with North American textile manufacturers between November 9 and 13. The event, in collaboration with the Economic and Commercial Office of Spain in Chicago, offers an opportunity to discover new technologies and innovations and to find new potential partners. His answers come in response to questions posed by eTC publisher Devin Steele.)
eTC: First of all, thank you for your promotion to business unit manager at amec amtex late last year. Please speak to the honor of holding this position.
Alcaide: Thanks, Devin. It is a great honor to lead the Spanish textile machinery sector and a huge responsibility. Textiles has been a traditional sector during all Spanish history. (Catalan architect) Gaudi used to build modernist textile mills in Spain, and we must ensure that the Spanish textile sector stays as relevant as it has always been for the country and for the whole world.
eTC: Of course, taking on a new role is always exciting and offers a new set of challenges, but I’m sure nothing could have prepared you for the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the impact it would have on the global textile sector and, in effect, your membership, industry and country. Can you summarize the impact this has had on the Spanish textile sector and its machinery suppliers (your members)?
Alcaide: Back in 2019 the textile sector was already experiencing a slowdown, through all its value chain, raw material, machinery and final product sales. But nobody could expect that the world would be hit like this. Due to the lockdown measures, sales have been a 30 percent down during the pandemic period, which we are sure is just temporary and sales will increase as soon as stocks begin to clear in retail stores.
amec amtex members have had to deal also with security restrictions and have adapted their teams to teleworking and new procedures. The impact has not been very significant, because companies are traditionally intense in technology and already had digital tools to keep their costumer relationship.
eTC: As in the U.S., did many of your members and Spanish manufacturers pivot into providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to address shortages of frontline heroes? If so, tell us about this mobilization? If so, please speak to this.
Alcaide: Yes, they did! Some of our members were involved in healthcare sector, nonwovens for masks and hospital gowns … and some adapted instantly their portfolio to start offering technology to cover the high demand of the sector. You can see on the news people confronting the virus every day, and amec amtex members want to help in anything they can, so reinforcing the value chain of PPE manufacturing is one of their main tasks now.
eTC: Are your members beginning to see an emergence of activity as the peak of the crisis appears to be behind us?
Alcaide: They do – amec amtex members were not just focused on the textile sector. Textile machinery is demanded in sectors like food processing, packaging, automobile, healthcare, industrial, defense … and this sectorial transversality helped them to keep working and producing.
Regarding the textile sector, it seems that the activity is peaking up since the end of June, mainly in subsectors such as home textile and some others. Wholesalers and big brands are slowly starting to clear their stocks, therefore we are optimistic and acknowledge that this crisis is temporary, and we can see that 2021 will be a great year!
eTC: I certainly appreciate your optimism, Alejandro! Tell us a little more about your association in terms of membership, sectors covered, etc., and a brief history.
Alcaide: amec amtex is the textile sector of amec. We gather up to 300 Spanish technology manufacturers of nine different sectors: packaging, food processing, smart cities, plastic … It was created 50 years ago with the aim of helping Spanish companies to expand their boundaries and become relevant in the international business sector. We have been working along with them through all these years on their internationalization projects, connecting them and finding scaling up business collaborations; always listening to their needs and representing them with a lobby task. During amec’s 50 years of existence, every day has been a challenge and a joy to experience.
eTC: How does amec amtex enable your members to thrive, collaborate and grow?
Alcaide: We do that because we know them, Devin. The relationship between the association and its members is very close. Every year we visit them, we travel together, we participate together in all sorts of activities … and this is only possible because of the vision that Spanish textile machinery manufacturers have and because they want us to work with them. We acknowledge their projects and look for ways to improve them with the association’s services. amec amtex is flexible and close to its members, which creates a confidence linkage, and this is a winning combination.
We put 50 years of knowledge at the service of our members. They see the benefits of it and how can we complement their processes in industry 4.0, internationalization, digitalization, talent recruiting, financing, etc.
eTC: How big is your staff and speak to the skillsets they bring to the table – and, on a related note, please tell us how you lead this group.
Alcaide: We are 30 people working for our members, all of us with different responsibilities. We bring to the table the flexibility and ability to work on any project our members have: international networking, project and international consulting, activities management … all of our team is highly qualified in international business and has a wide experience in B2B.
I lead my team by being part of it – anything that must be done, I will do along with them. We are aware that one of our strengths is the personal touch to our members and we train ourselves to be resilient. Another of our tasks is to bring trends to amec amtex’ s members, to update them and also to work with them on how they can embrace and apply all upcoming trends, making them relevant players in the textile manufacturing sector.
eTC: What are some of the differentiating benefits of the association and how do you communicate these benefits to members, potential members and the industry?
Alcaide: We have implemented an impact KPI; this means that we measure the impact that the association has on its members. As I mentioned before, we visit them at least once a year and evaluate not only the benefits that the company brings to them but also the things that can be improved. This procedure puts us in a very significant position, where we need to give our best to the members to receive a positive evaluation. We believe this is a competitive advantage: being an association that sets its goals depending on what the members expect and need and having procedures to measure the accomplishments.
eTC: Global outreach appears to be a priority on your agenda. I say this because, before COVID-19, you were planning to organize B2B meetings and a trade/goodwill mission in the U.S. this year you organized virtual B2B meetings with textile manufacturers. In the meantime, in lieu of an in-person event this year, can you briefly highlight some of the industrial solutions some of your members provide in such areas as spinning and knitting?
Alcaide: In November we want to engage with textile manufacturers and discuss the latest trends in their respective subsectors and, in that sense, we are inviting American textile manufacturers to meet our members. They can schedule a virtual meeting through this webpage. Thanks to ITMA, Spanish manufacturers have made a step forward in terms of digitalization and sustainability. We want to see how textile manufacturers are also updating themselves and exchange insights into how to be better connected with stakeholders, how factories can be aligned to the sustainability that the final customer is demanded and stated during ITMA 2019.
amec amtex’ s members are based on tailored manufacturing, with the aim of enhancing the efficiency of their customers. Factories are expensive to maintain, they know how textile manufacturers can increase margin, be flexible in manufacturing and save costs. Most of our members already complement their machinery with performance and maintenance software, in spinning found the way of speeding the spindle velocity, machinery for technical textiles performance improving …
eTC: If you can schedule a visit by members of the U.S. next year, what would be their goals and yours as an association?
Alcaide: We want American manufacturers to know us better, and the main goal would be to build a relationship between both textile worlds. The U.S. is a very advanced textile sector, with the latest technology advances and is very well known for its technical textile manufacturing and the use of new materials. Our goal is to engage Spanish companies with American companies in order to build fruitful partnerships. What we know is already happening with some Spanish members in the U.S., so is our task to bring Spain closer to the U.S.
eTC: ITMA in Barcelona last year certainly was a rousing success for many. As the host textile machinery association during ITMA last year in Barcelona, can you highlight some of the successes your members have shared with you?
Alcaide: A member said to me “it’s seems like it’s the day before Christmas day!” The latest ITMA was one of the editions with more machinery sold onsite, and Spanish members were a part of these sales. There was also new partnership created during the show, between Spanish members but also between CEMATEX members.
We also as an association welcomed an American delegation to the show and did a tour through all the show, which also build new bridges between both countries.
eTC: You’re a “youngish” gentleman in a big role, of course. From a personal standpoint, please tell us about the commitment, mentorship, experience, etc. it took to reach this esteemed position.
Alcaide: Is a very nice challenge for me, I feel very grateful for the opportunity the association and its members gave me. Members were confidence that I was the right person because of my international experience. I do speak five languages and have been working abroad in two different countries during my life. My predecessor, Mrs. Angela Lalatta, played a huge role in my professional career and set a very high standard, which I will do my best to reach.
eTC: What drives you?
Alcaide: Excellence. I just expect our actions to go beyond our members expectations, and me and my team will work tirelessly to bring the Spanish textile machinery sector to the next level.
eTC: What are your overarching goals for amec amtex in the coming years?
Alcaide: I have two main goals: to expand the knowledge of the Spanish textile technology to the world and to make amec amtex known as a reliable association in the sector.
eTC: Is there something I failed to ask that you would like to add?
Alcaide: If I may, I would like to thank you for your time and your kind questions, from amec amtex. We are followers of eTextileCommunications.com and see the huge task you are doing for the textile sector, and I want to thank you for the great work you are showcasing.
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