Mal Maher is the CEO of NC Carpet Binding & Equipment Corp., a Newark, N.J.-based company that manufactures machinery and offers supplies for the flooring trade.
Founded in 1947 by his uncle and grandfather, Maher got his start in the family owned and operated business in 2000. Here, Maher shares his thoughts about production challenges, the growing demand for skilled sewing operators and the perks of carrying on family business traditions.
How did you get involved in the company/industry?
It’s a family business. My uncle and grandfather came out of WWII
and decided to become sewing machine inventors and resellers.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
From a production standpoint, keeping the majority of our machines,
tools and supplies made in the USA. The most troubling are domestic
and international knockoffs of our carpet, turf and netting machines.
What are the biggest rewards?
Anyone can sell a sewing machine; it’s what gets done before and after that counts most for sewing operations. I truly enjoy building friendships and being part of a client’s manufacturing process. For more than 60 years, we’ve flown out to plants to help launch new workrooms and/or streamline existing ones. Helping them assess the exact needs of their workroom and being a vital cog in streamlining their operation is truly rewarding. It was a specialty of my grandfather’s and I’m doing all I can to carry on that tradition.
What do you anticipate for your industry in the next five years? Ten?
Right now skilled sewing operators are in great demand. Over the past 16 months, the sewing trade has made a substantial comeback in the U.S. Textile and interiors workrooms are in desperate need of skilled sewing machine operators. In the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, thousands of U.S. sewing operations left this country for cheap overseas labor. And with them left an entire workforce of skilled sewing operators. Fast forward to 2016 and this has now become a demand profession. Interest in sewing, trade schools and a growing youth involvement are now getting their feet wet. Five to ten years from now, there will be a fairly well developed source of skilled sewers.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
Of late, hobbies have taken a backseat to our three-year-old and six-year-old. I love playing and coaching sports, mountain bike riding and cooking.
Why did you join IFAI? Which services/benefits do you use the most?
We have been looking for a tradeshow to further expand the reach of our industrial netting machines as well as our dedicated upholstery sewing machines line.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
You like things right away, so do the same for your clients.
Who has been your biggest influence, personally or professionally?
My father. Beyond the six to seven day work weeks he’s generous to a fault and dedicated to his family, staff and business.
What is number one on your bucket list?
Tour Italy’s best restaurants for a month…in a Lamborghini.
What was the first job you ever had?
Summer landscaping job at age 13. By 14, I was working at NC Carpet Binding & Equipment full time cleaning the shop, buggy lugging sewing machines and stocking shelves.