SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2013 • THE BULLETIN
Seeing that other plants in the area were streamlining :s ~< Continued from E1 their businesses and ceasing to And while Winthrop did not make theirown yarn,Parkdale run into such problems, monisupplied yarn to nearby manuV toring worker safety in places facturers like Hanesbrands. like Bangladesh, where hunBusiness flourished, and Parkdreds oftextile workers have dale acquired competitors and died in recent years in fires soared until the 1990s. That's when its clients startand other disasters, has become a huge challenge. ed fleeing the United States. "When I framed the busiThe North American Free ness, I wasn't saying, 'From Trade Agreement in 1994 was the cotton in the ground to the the first blow, erasing import finished product, this is going duties on much of the apparel to be all American-made,'" he p roduced i n M e x i co. T h e said. "It wasn't some patriotic Asian financial crisis in the quest." late 1990s, when currencies Instead, he said, the road to collapsed, added a 30 to 40 perGaffney was all about protectcent discount to already cheaping his bottom line. er overseas products, textile That simple, if counterintuiexecutives said. China joined tive, example is changing both the World Trade Organization Gaffney and the U.S. textile in 2001and quickly became an and apparel industries. apparel powerhouse, and, as In 2012, textile and apparel Mike Belleme / New York Times News Service of 2005, the WTO eliminated exports were $22.7 billion, textile quotas. up 37 percent from just three ABOVE: Bryan Ashby, vice In 1991, U.S.-made apparel years earlier. While the size president of sales and adminaccounted for 56.2 percent of of operations remain behind istration for Carolina Cotton all the clothing bought domesthose ofoverseas powers like Works, tries on an American tically, according to the AmeriChina, the fact that these in- Giant sweatshirt during a meetcan Apparel and Footwear Asdustries are t hriving again ing with the company's founder sociation. By 2012, it accounted after almost being left for dead in Gaffney, S.C. for2.5percent.Overall,the U .S. is indicative of a broader reasmanufacturing sector lost 32 sessment by U.S. companies RIGHT: Fabric is processed percent of its jobs, 5.8 million of a bout manufacturing in t h e at the Carolina Cotton Works them, between 1990 and 2012, United States. plant. according to Bureau of Labor But as manufacturers find Statistics data. The textile and that U.S.-made products are apparel subsectors were hit n ot only appealing but a f seas,so he looked there forthe even harder, losing 76.5 percent fordable, they are also find- advanced techniques and afof their jobs, or 1.2 million. "With all the challenges that ing the business landscape fordablepricing he needed. we've had with cheap imports, has changed. Two decades of He wanted to sell his hoodoverseas production has deci- ed sweatshirtfor around $80, labor — the cutting and sew- 'Norma Rae,' and everyone's we knew in order to survive we'd have to take technology mated factories here. Between between the $10 Walmart ver- ing of the sweatshirts, which sick and dirty and coughing 2000 and 2011, on average, 17 sion, made in China, and the he does in five factories in and it's terrible," said Mike as far as we could," said Anmanufacturers closed up shop $125 Polo Ralph Lauren ver- California and North Caro- H ubbard, vice president of the derson Warlick, P arkdale's every day across the country, sion, made in Peru. He was in- lina — is where the costs jump National Council of T extile chief executive. "We've been able to be effecaccording to r esearch from sistent on cutting and sewing up. That costs his company Organizations. the Information Technology the sweatshirts in the United around $17 for a given sweatNot here. The air-cleaning tivehere because we invested and Innovation Foundation. States — a company called shirt; overseas, he says, it room, where air is washed 6.5 in our manufacturing to the Now, companies that want American Giant couldn't do would cost $5.50. times an hour to get contami- point that labor is not as big of to make things here often that part overseas, he feltBut truth be told, labor is not nants out, could be a modern- an issue as far as total cost as have trouble finding quali- but wasn't picky about where a big ingredient in the manu- art installation, with l i quid it once was. It's allowed us to fied workers forspecialized the fabric came from. facturing uptick in the United raining into pools of water. be able to compete more effecjobs and U.S.-made compoWith the help of a consul- States, textiles or otherwise. Along the ceiling, moving tively with foreign countries nents fortheir products. And t ant, he settled on a mill in Indeed, the absence of high- racks like those at a dry clean- that pay, you know, a fraction politicians' promises that U.S. Haryana, India, that c ould paid U.S. workers in the new er snake throughout the facto- of what we pay in wages. We manufacturing m e an s a n make the desired fabric. After factories has made the revival ry, carrying the finished yarn compete with them on techabundance of new jobs is com- several months of back-and- possible. to a machine for packaging nology and productivity." "Most of our costs are pow- and shipping. That machine plicated — yes, it means jobs, forth, Winthrop was ready to but on nowhere near the scale ship his first sweatshirts in er-related," said Dan Nation, a has enough lights and outlets Back from the dead there was before, because ma- February 2012. senior Parkdale executive. on it that it resembles a music All t hat a u tomation h as chines have replaced humans But he was frustrated with studio soundboard. m ade working i n t h e m i l l March of the m achines at almost every point in the the quality and the lengthy For Parkdale, the new tech- — which once meant mostly production process. process. By October of last Step inside Parkdale Mills nology has been its salvation. dead-end jobs for people with Take Parkdale: The millhere year, Winthrop had m oved a nd prepare t o b e o v e r Founded in 1916, Parkdale no other options — desirable produces 2.5 million pounds of production to South Carolina. whelmed by machines. is the largest buyer of raw cot- for many people. yarn a week with about 140 Now it t akes just a m onth The ceilings are high and ton in the United States. In the Howard Taggert, 86, got his workers. In 1980, that produc- or so, start to finish, to get a the machines stretch cityblock 1960s, when its current chair- first mill job in 1948 after high tion level would have required sweatshirt to a customer. after city block — t his one man, Duke K i m brell, took school. "We just avoid so many big tossing around bits of cotton to over, it was a single plant with "By being a color, yeah, more than 2,000 people. and small stumbles that inclean them, that one taking 4- a couple of hundred workers. you've got the worst jobs there Curse of long distance variably happen when you try millimeter layers from differWhen B ayard W i n t hrop to do things from far away," ent bales to blend them. founded American Giant, he he said. "We would never be Only infrequently does a perknew precisely what he want- where we are today if we were son interrupt the automation, ed to make: thick sweatshirts overseas. Nowhere close." mainly because certain tasks like the one from the Navy Winthrop and his team visit are still cheaper if performed that his father used to wear. Carolina Cotton Works and by hand — like moving half-finThey required a dry "hand Parkdale whenever they want, ished yarn between machines feel," so the fabric would not check on q u ality an d t o ss on forklifts. Beyond that, there seem greasy to the touch, and ideas around with the manag- is little that resembles the mills a soft, heavily plucked under- ers. And, he says, the cost is of just a few decades ago. Save up to side. Winthrop had already less than in India. T ell people about a t e x produced sportswear overWhere Winthrop relies on tile plant and "their image is
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was in textile," said Taggert, who is African-American. "It was rough, but it was a living. We made a living." He started by openingcotton bales, which involved striking an ax onto a metal tie around the bales — a dangerous job, given that a spark from metal striking metal could ignite a room full of cotton. The dust was so thick that he couldn't see to the next aisle, he said. He was paid 87 cents an hour. "I had to. I didn't have no otherchoice,"he said ofworking in the mills. The work was so bad that Taggert refused to let his children go into mill work. He might be surprised to hear about Donna M cKoy, w ho went back to work in a mill even after earning an associate degree in criminal justice. She earns $47,000 a year and says the perks, like health care, an in-house nurse and monthly management classes for supervisors, are good. She recently bought a three-bedroom house and owns a car. "I have a comfortable life," she said. Still, some Parkdale employees worry about the future. They've seen too much hardship in the textile industry to be overly hopeful. Scott Symmonds, 40, of Galax, Va., works as a technician for two plants in the area. He never planned o n m a n ufacturing work, but after time in the National Guard in Iraq, his home went into foreclosure and he had trouble getting work because ofhis low credit score
and lackof a college degree. As a teenager in rural Iowa, he knew people who worked in manufacturing and watched two plants go out of business. "I saw how they would come home dirty, smelly and often injured," he said. "I didn't want that." But he needed a job. Symmonds started as a spinner, then got a job on the packing line and then snagged a technician's job after a technicalaptitude test. He earns $15 an hour, which he says is better than what competitors pay. He fears, though, that his higher pay could become a liability. "We are making far more money than ourcounterparts in China or other nations," he said. "We can't afford to take a big enough cut in pay to be on an even level with those places."
on OLYMPIC Exterior Stains & Sealants
of th e C a l ifornia B a nkers tant Edward Carpenter, who Association. has helped scores of small Continued from E1 When Friendly Hills opened banks get started. Most of the ones that failed in 2006, complying with reguBy this gauge, just 19 perI I had overdosed on loans to land lations required about half the cent of banks nationally would developers and home builders time of one full-time employ- measure up. during the housing boom. ee, Ball said. He now devotes Carpenter — who heads a Many others remain well- the equivalent of I'/2 full-tim- partnership that has acquired managed w i t h pr o f i table ers to the task, and that's likely a cluster of California commu(On Select Products) niches, analysts say. And they to increase to two f ull-time nity banks with assets totaling Save $5 per gallon have shared some legacy prob- equivalents as new r egula- $3.8 billion — said $1 billion lems from the financial crisis tions continue to be phased in, in assets is the threshold for on Olympic MAXIMUM'"' Stains 8 with larger banks, including Ball said. That's a strain on a financial viability. Sealants. Limit 10 Gallons "And George Bailey thought weak loan demand in a slug- small staff of two dozen. gish economy and low interest Many bank i nvestors behe had issues," Carpenter said, Save $3 per gallon rates that have pinched lend- lieve that they can't get a de- referring to the Depressionon Olympic Deck, Fence 8 Siding ing profits. cent return from banks with era banker played by Jimmy Stains 8 Sealants. Limit10 Gallons. Yet s m a l l com m u nity less than $500 million in asStewart in the 1946 film "It's a banks, on average, remain sets, said Irvine bank consul- Wonderful Life." far less profitable than larger institutions. A Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco analysis of one profitability gauge — return on assets — i l lustrates the pinch. At commercial banks in the Western U.S., those with less than $1 billion in assets reported an average return of 0.7 percentin the second quarter this year, compared with 1.1 percent for banks with $1 bil"I consider myself a guest in my patients' homes, so it lion or more. Gary Findley, an Anaheim, is my responsibility to enter with kindness and respect. Calif.-based consultant to small banks, attributed the difference That's my specialty — I bring organized home health mainlytothe cost ofcompliance with regulations. He said the medical expertise, mixed with a smile and a shoulder gap is especially great between banks with less than $500 milto lean on. I'm your Partners ln Care nurse, but I'm lion in assets — the smaller community banks — and those also a friendly face." with assets of more than $1 billion. Major banks, he said, can better absorb the costs on their bigger balance sheets. An example of how this af541-382-5882 fects smallerbanks can be seen at Friendly Hills Bank partnersbend.org in Whittier, Calif., a smallbusiness lender w it h $ 1 00 ln Care million in assets whose president, Jeffrey Ball, is chairman -
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