Manufacturing fuels innovation

November 1, 2017

And I know this happens because I took economics, and I’d explain it to ya, but I flunked that course. Not my fault. They taught it at 8 o’clock in the morning. And there is absolutely nothing you can learn out of one bloodshot eye.   ~Lewis Black When I was in college, I took a …

IFAI Expo 2017: Report from New Orleans

Despite the hurricanes and wildfires of late summer, IFAI Expo 2017 attracted many new first-time attendees to New Orleans in late September. And exhibitors reported that attendees were more likely than previous years to purchase their products, services and equipment. Aside from exhibitor-attendee interaction, the show floor was a hive of lively “campfire” educational sessions …

Disaster relief and rebuilding

October 1, 2017

It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes. ~Douglas Adams Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Floods. Fire. It’s only September 18 as I write this, and this month is already on the record books. And, according to today’s paper, the atmospheric parade just keeps on coming, Atlantic and Pacific: Maria. José. …

Community service

September 1, 2017

Vision is dandy, but sustainable company excellence comes from a huge stable of able managers. ~Tom Peters September is IFAI Expo month, and this year’s programs, events and exhibits are focused more than ever on making the workmanship surpass the materials—even the amazing materials on the show floor in New Orleans. It’s an education in …

Planning for the circular economy

July 1, 2017

Economics is an older science than ecology, created (if not perfected) during times when there were no scarcities of natural resources (and no wild-eyed college freshmen running around flashing their “Earth Day 1970” buttons at each other). In ecological science, there really is no concept of unlimited resources. Economics is necessarily focused on short time …

The only strategy

June 1, 2017

At the recent MMPA (Minnesota Magazine & Publishing Association) Summit & Expo, focused this year on digital publications, I attended a session on how to enforce trademark and copyright laws when much of the public feels that anything found online is free for the taking. According to our speaker, a patent attorney, if you find …

The radishes strike back

May 1, 2017

Some weeks ago, I listened to my cousin’s husband Fred as he told a tale of shopping and marital compromise. Apparently he’d gone out to run some errands, was attracted by a nearby brewery, and completely forgot that he’d been firmly instructed to pick up some cat food. Wishing to maintain household harmony, Fred sent …

Beware the local radishes

April 1, 2017

Whenever anyone says something about being on Cloud 9, I have to wonder about the populations of Clouds 1–8. Are there predestined atmospheric locations for those having a bad hair day, a flat tire, two flat tires, a screenwriting career? Is Cloud 1 the lowest level, or does it continually sow discord by boasting the …

From custom to customer

March 1, 2017

Manufacturing USA—the new name for the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation—has established nine manufacturing innovation institutes, with six more planned in 2017. These public–private partnerships each have distinct technology focus areas but work towards a common goal: to secure America’s future through manufacturing innovation, education and collaboration. The mission of the Advanced Functional Fabrics of …

Recurring revenue

February 1, 2017

Twenty years ago, while working as an editor at my first publishing company, I was working with a group of other editors that were mostly 9–10 years younger than I was. (Generation X was the term used, the generation born after the baby boomers, often perceived to be disaffected and directionless.) With the usual enviable …

Adjust to fit

January 1, 2017

During the MMPA’s annual gala in November, Specialty Fabrics Review magazine won six awards from the Minnesota Magazine & Publishing Association: Bronze Awards in Feature Design (“Textiles in space,” Feb. 2016), Regular Column (“Perspective”) and Overall Design; a Silver Award for Overall Excellence; and Gold for Best Feature Article (“Making the rounds,” Oct. 2015)—and for …

IFAI Expo 2016: advanced textiles

December 1, 2016

Today’s textile testing is challenged with evaluating varied performance qualities for multiple environments. The Advanced Textiles Testing Track at IFAI Expo examined textile testing in light of a new wave of textile developments. Dr. Emiel Den Hartog, North Carolina State University (NCSU) Center for Research on Textile Protection & Comfort (TPACC), focused on a “multi-level” …

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IFAI Expo 2016: shade and weather protection

The special shade section on the show flow featured end products ranging from retractable awning systems, shade structures and canopies to motorized shade and weather solutions of all types. Programming and events included “Super Tuesday” seminars, tours of local shops and a keynote lunch, plus Wednesday evening’s opening reception at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. …

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IFAI Expo 2016: specialty fabrics programming

A variety of educational choices drove the Specialty Fabrics Program schedule Oct. 18-21 at the IFAI 2016 Expo. Attendees enjoyed dozens of presentations and “campfire” sessions featuring experts on topics as diverse as training the next generation of skilled workers, understanding functional fabric design and beating offshore manufacturers. The exhibit hall showcased the latest in fabrics, …

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IFAI Expo 2016: high points and highlights

Thousands of industry professionals joined the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) in the heart of the U.S. textile industry Oct. 18–21 to acquire a working education in the areas of specialty fabrics, shade and weather protection products and advanced textiles: seminars, exhibits, workshops, market roundtables and four days of concentrated networking. From business basics to …

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IFAI Expo 2016: industry leadership, IFAI style

At IFAI’s annual meeting, Kevin Yonce, MFC, IFM, CPP, past chairman of the IFAI Board of Directors and chairman of the 2016 Leadership Development Committee, announced this year’s election results.    • Dennis Bueker, Keyston Bros., has been elected to his second three-year term as director.  • Brian Rowinski, Rainier Industries LLC, has been elected …

Shared value

Last month, I was writing an editorial before IFAI Expo to be read after the show—a form of journalistic time travel. Today I am writing after doing my civic duty, but before the United States chooses a new president. I made some predictions about Expo, but I won’t venture into political prognostication. (Much.) After more …

Develop and diversify

November 1, 2016

By the time you read this magazine, IFAI Expo 2016 will have passed; but as I write this, it’s still 10 days out. The magazine will go to the printer before I have a chance to say anything about what I learned, or learned to question, in Charlotte. At this time of year, I’m always …

State of the Makers, Friday, Oct. 21, 2016

October 21, 2016

Mary Hennessy, president of the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), and Tatjana Hutnyak, board chair of The Makers Coalition (TMC), led a session on the show floor at IFAI Expo 2016 to talk with show participants about IFAI’s Makers Division, which is working in partnership with TMC to address an acute industry problem—the shortage of …

IFAI Expo 2016: Show Stopper winners

Thursday morning at IFAI Expo led off with lists of winners for the year—including the 2016 winners of the Show Stopper program, recognizing the most innovative new products in the exhibit hall. Thomson Research Associates was recognized for Ultra-Fresh DM-25 in the category of chemicals, coatings and compounds. Fenetex won for its Adjustable Tracks for …

The Future of Interior Textile Architecture: Optimistic Sustainability

At a Campfire Session on Thursday, Oct. 20, on the show floor at IFAI Expo 2016, Cynthia Thompson, MFA, shared her thoughts on where the “built environment” is headed. Thompson is the founder of Transformit, a company based in Gorham, Maine, that designs and creates artistic and functional tensioned fabric structures and components. “In the …

Delivering world-class customer service

October 20, 2016

“Lessons from the Mouse” Dennis Snow, the author of the business book “Lessons from the Mouse,” spent roughly 20 years at Disney, working his way up from playing Captain Nemo (driving the submarine) and staffing the “It’s a Small World” ride to management. Now, as the head of Snow & Associates Inc. and a well-known …

IFAI Honored Life Members announced at IFAI Expo 2016

First Vice Chairman Steve Ellington announced this year’s newly appointed Honored Life Members at the annual meetingWednesday morning. Honored Life Membership is bestowed by special request only at the discretion of the IFAI Board of Directors to candidates who meet one or both of the following criteria: For meritorious or outstanding work accomplished for the …

IFAI Expo 2016 Sewing Machine Tour

October 19, 2016

Harry Berzack’s unique collection of antique sewing machines wowed visitors on three tours at The Fox Company in Charlotte, Tuesday, Oct. 18. The tours were sponsored by the Industrial Fabrics Foundation (IFF) as a fundraising opportunity for the organization’s educational programs for students. Berzack, president of The Fox Co., treated guests to a personally guided …

Grit: Guts, Resilience, Initiative and Tenacity

Wednesday morning’s keynote speaker at IFAI Expo 2016, Linda Kaplan Thaler, spoke with verve and vivacity about the importance of “keeping at it.” Thaler is president of Kaplan Thaler Productions, a member of the Advertising Hall of Fame, and the award—winning author of the best-selling business book “Grit to Great.” When she started her agency, …

Work Groups vs Teams

How both approaches impact business profitability In the U.S., approximately 30 percent of employees are engaged in their jobs—which means that more than 2/3 of employees are not. According to Lynn Dessert, MBA, DCC, an executive career advisor who spoke Tuesday morning at IFAI EXPO 2016 in Charlotte, forming committed and valued teams and work …

Vibrant Coaching

October 18, 2016

A session by Nicole Greer, a leadership and business coach, focused on the “four elements of success” in learning how to effectively approach and communicate with clients: Earth, Water, Wind and Fire. Your products and manufacturing processes are already excellent, she says, but you need to focus on the last ‘P’; people. Earth: solid, steady, …

Road work ahead

October 1, 2016

In the November 1933 issue of The National Canvas Goods Manufacturers Review, Manager-Editor McGregor said, “Unregulated competition was wasting natural resources, ruining worthwhile business enterprise, and exploiting human labor. … We live in a highly integrated business civilization requiring a new set of industrial principles.” In the November 2015 issue of Specialty Fabrics Review, our …

Benefit sharing

June 29, 2016

Every year at this time, we start pulling together our editorial calendars, compiling a list of important products, key markets and vital industry issues. This year’s “issues” roster for the Review includes (but is not limited to): multifunctionality in high-performance fabrics; sustainability, inside and out; smart marketing and managing social media; adding value; the next …

Special delivery

June 1, 2016

Mass customization is defined online as a marketing and manufacturing technique that combines the flexibility and personalization of “custom-made” with the low unit costs associated with mass production—sometimes with the qualification added that the customization is intended to take place at the last possible production stage before the product meets the customer. The concept started …

An intelligent ecosystem

May 1, 2016

Last Friday (April 22), I’d meant to wear my original “Earth Day” button, purchased in 1970 as a callow youth in Morris, Minn.; but as a jaded professional in Minneapolis, Minn., I remembered to grab earrings but left the button sitting next to one that says “CTHULHU FOR PRESIDENT: If you’re tired of voting for …

Warp speed

April 1, 2016

One of my friends emailed me this morning to ask about some research she was doing into the history of women’s participation in “technological” careers, wondering what was considered “high tech” 30, 40 and 50 years ago, and reminiscing about professional life before cell phones and computers and a global communications network. When I started …

Forethought: The next job

March 1, 2016

Back in September 1999, I wrote my first editorial for the Industrial Fabric Products Review. At the time, I described myself this way: “I’m a rabid science fiction fan and a relentless afficionado of robust red wines, and I have no children, no pets, six slowly petrifying house plants, and only a fading hope that …

Forethought: Waging wars

February 1, 2016

Last week’s blizzard was officially the fourth most powerful snowstorm to hit the Northeast in more than 60 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). On Jan. 20, NASA and NOAA reported their analyses that Earth’s 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since recordkeeping began in 1880, with 15 of the 16 …

Reaching for the stars

January 1, 2016

Durham’s Infinite Air extreme trampoline park gets a jump on the competition. Rubb Buildings Ltd., Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, U.K., helped bring Infinite Air extreme trampoline park and freerunning facility to life at Durham’s Soccarena, New Ferens Park. The £600,000, 35,000 sq. ft. centre officially opened its doors in July 2015 and welcomed visitors to …

Forethought: The once and future industry

November 1, 2015

As a life-long science fiction fan, I tend to think of the past in terms of the future (and vice-versa). So as I have spent the last ten months researching the history of an industry in the archives of this magazine, I kept compiling important events and themes in my head and letting them bubble …

Funding and financing

October 9, 2015

How to acquire capital for your business. Where do funds come from? There are four main sources, according to Lynda Andrian of Southern California Leasing: FDIC-insured banks, Wall Street, private equity firms and marketplace lending (also known as “crowdfunding” for businesses). Types of financing include debt financing, equity financing, equipment financing, SBA loans, accounts receivable …

Should you be exporting?

There is a great deal of free help available if the answer is yes. “The manufacturing landscape in America is changing,” said Mary Lynn Landgraf, Senior International Trade Specialist with the Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA). “Otexa offers programs and strategies to help businesses in this industry stay competitive. We compile data, design strategies, …

Personal branding using social media

October 8, 2015

How to achieve positive visibility and establish yourself as a leader. The use of social media to publicize your business (and yourself) is an invaluable tool in achieving visibility to your audience, but it’s vital to be a “thoughtful” leader and establish yourself as a professional who provides content that is both good and consistent, …

No barriers

Keynote speaker Erik Weihenmayer, the only blind climber ever to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, inspired a full house of attendees Thursday morning at IFAI Expo 2015. After losing his sight at the age of 13, Erik Weihenmayer has become one of the world’s most famous and inspiring athletes. He has not only climbed …

“Cool shade, real people”

Keyston Bros. introduces a new campaign at IFAI Expo In booth 1784, the backdrop is a beach, the carpet is printed like sand, and the fabric festooned overhead promotes Keyston Bros. new campaign: “Cool shade, real people.” According to president and CEO Dee Duncan, the company is promoting a new concept using ‘environmental’ designs that …

Robert L. Cole receives IFAI Chairman’s Award

October 7, 2015

The award caps the annual association meeting at IFAI Expo. In addition to gracing the cover of the October issue of Specialty Fabrics Review magazine, Robert L. Cole of Goodwin-Cole Co. Inc., Sacramento, Calif., received the IFAI Chairman’s Award at the culmination of this year’s annual meeting at IFAI Expo. The Chairman’s Award is a …

Katie B. Bradford, MFC, IFM, becomes the new Chairman of the IFAI Board of Directors

She will be the 51st Chairman—and the first woman to hold the position. Katie B. Bradford, MFC, IFM, owner of Custom Marine Canvas in Noank, Conn., served one elected 3-year term and two appointed 1-year terms on the IFAI board during the period of 1997-2003, and was elected to the position of 1st vice chairman/chairman …

Forethought: Patience and time

July 1, 2015

We’ve now gone back 70 years in our voyage to the very first Review published in 1915. The issues published during 1945 were something of a surprise to me, in that so much “normal” business activity was subsumed by World War II. My father served on the U.S.S. Maddox in the Pacific; a good friend’s …

The secret sharer

October 1, 2014

There are some not-so-obvious benefits to attending industry events. You already know why your upcoming convention and trade show is important: it’s a chance to discover new products and new suppliers, discuss emerging industry trends and best practices, and learn from the people who make up your industry, as they learn from you. New products, …

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Beijing Olympics feature underwater geosynthetics

September 1, 2008

Some of the most impressive aspects of the Shunyi Rowing-Canoeing Park are underwater. An artificial lake and wild-water complex in the Chinese city of Shunyi is set in a giant rectangular stretch of land specifically built for the Olympics. Most of the park is made up of a giant man made body of water, also …

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Tent companies reach out to China after earthquake

August 1, 2008

May 12 changed everything in the Sichuan province of China. Local radio in Sichuan quoted disaster relief officials as saying a third of the buildings in Wenchuan collapsed from the quake and another third were seriously damaged. In addition to taking thousands of lives, the earthquake leveled schools, hospitals and houses. As Chinese citizens and …