LOS ANGELES — Cities such as Dallas, Atlanta, New York and Los Angeles once had vibrant textile industries and professional support organizations. However, with the domestic textile landscape scorched by foreign competition, most of the organizations and many major mills were wiped out. But the Textile Association of Los Angeles, founded in 1944, has survived.

New TALA president Brian Thaler, president and founder of Scott-Thaler Associates, and his predecessor, Hal Kaltman, owner of Hal Kaltman Textiles, discuss how the group has kept going in this volatile environment.

WWD: What are your goals for TALA?

Brian Thaler: I am evaluating the current trending that is taking place in the industry and the world. We have been approached by 13 to 14 embassies that want to bring members of their countries into L.A. TALA also sponsors scholarships for the students. All these students graduate at some point and a percentage work for companies or a percentage work for themselves doing design. We have become an information exchange organization.

WWD: How are you different from past presidents?

B.T.: I own an executive search firm. We specialize in textiles, apparel, accessories, home gifts, retail and logistics. We search for candidates and clients, and we are a matchmaker. We represent both the candidate and the client. I know how to find new TALA members. I know how to recruit companies that want to deal with our members. I am helping TALA be logical in putting together the salespeople with potential business.

WWD: How do TALA members cope with competition from China and elsewhere?

B.T.: TALA is…made up of salespeople. Our salespeople can get positions at these foreign companies. A lot of these foreign companies have no clue what to do. There is confusion and there are people scared with what is happening with the changeover. But if we build our organization as a network, there will be a lot of guidance for the industry.

WWD: When a foreign company approaches you, what do you tell them about why they should be doing business in Los Angeles?

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