CHARLESTON, S.C.--North Carolina hosiery makers were congratulated for their business leadership, as they gathered for the Catawba Valley Hosiery Association's strategic retreat here earlier this month. At the same time, with reengineering the parley's hot theme, they were filled in by a battery of speakers as to what businesses will have to do on an ongoing basis to stay competitive. About 100 hosiery manufacturers attended the weekend event. Walter H. Plosila, executive director of the new North Carolina Alliance for Competitive Technologies, in referring to the state's hosiery industry, pointed out: "North Carolina is blessed with one of the strongest clusterings of like manufacturers in the country." He noted that the industry has been a leader in developing and implementing new technologies and concepts in such areas as just-in-time manufacturing and in "creating close-knit vendor-retailer relationships." Because of this, he said, hosiery has been selected as a pilot industry for developing the state's new competitive strategies program. This program will coordinate technology-based economic development investments and link manufacturing and technology industries with universities and government. Additionally, Plosila stressed to the manufacturers the importance of employee retraining. "Seventy five percent of your workers will still be with you in the year 2010," he said, "so it's obvious continuous retraining of these people must be an accepted way of doing business." Other speakers zeroed in on the various facets of corporate reengineering, such as broadening the number of skills held by individual employees, in place of the old one-man, one-job concept, and the speed up of getting new designs to production and to market. Taking the broad view, Ron Houser, vice president of human resources for Guilford Mills in Greensboro, N.C., stated: "Reengineering is starting over. It is the fundamental rethinking and the radical redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in performance cost, quality, capital, service and speed."
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