By  on February 3, 1994

HIALEAH, Fla. -- Apparel contractor Ray Beder has projected a 10 to 15 percent sales volume increase this year for his family-owned business, no mean feat in an industry that is struggling to survive the crush of offshore sourcing.

Beder has some things in his favor. He is aggressive and he has taken advantage of his location -- Miami, the gateway to the Caribbean. But most important, Beder isn't afraid to lay out the money it takes to keep his company a leader in its field.

For example, the company will be spending about $300,000 to move into a 60,000-square-foot facility this year where operations will be centralized.

RB Apparel makes several products, from children's sleepwear, ladies' and men's knit tops (including placket shirts), pullovers, and bottoms of various constructions.

Because of RB Apparel's proximity to Miami ports and the Caribbean Basin, much of its production is cutting for offshore use.

But like others contractors, RB's focus has changed greatly because of the push for 807 production by domestic apparel companies. Eighty percent of RB's cutting today is for offshore use and the rest for domestic; 10 years ago, the opposite was true.

If the North American Free Trade Agreement expands to include parity for Caribbean countries, Beder expects his cutting business for offshore sewing to grow even more.

"By lowering the tariffs and making it easier for American firms to deal with [807 countries], then I assume more people will go there, and they will cut their goods in south Florida," he explains.

Like others, Beder wants some of that business for his company.

Up to now, operations have been spread out in an 18,000-square-foot sewing facility with 150 stations, a 25,000-square-foot cutting plant with 10 40-yard tables and a facility for corporate offices.

By centralizing sewing and cutting under one roof, Beder believes he will increase growth by 10 to 15 percent. He plans to upgrade the new plant more in the future by adding electronic spreaders, flotation tables and Gerber cutting machines.

The move also will bring management together under one roof, including Beder's wife Susan, vice-president of administration, and his two sons, Steve, vice-president of manufacturing, and Gregory, who is in charge of data systems and works in planning and development.

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