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New Business Mix Fuels Missbrenner

NEW YORK -- Missbrenner Inc. has taken aim at the sportswear and dress markets. The firm is a 25-year-old printer of swimwear fabrics and became a converter of these fabrics seven years ago.<BR><BR>Kenneth Greenblatt, Missbrenner's president, said by...

NEW YORK — Missbrenner Inc. has taken aim at the sportswear and dress markets. The firm is a 25-year-old printer of swimwear fabrics and became a converter of these fabrics seven years ago.

Kenneth Greenblatt, Missbrenner’s president, said by supplying fabrics to the sportswear and dress markets, the company can double its business within five years.

The keys to this move, said Greenblatt and Stefan Missbrenner, the firm’s founder and chairman, were securing Gary Parker, a veteran print executive, last January to establish and run the new business, and merging Missbrenner’s three separately run entities into one company.

For good measure the company, which had sales of $75 million in 1993, has also moved its sales and marketing offices here to larger quarters. 1992’s sales were about $62 million.

“We knew we had to make those changes,” said Greenblatt, who was interviewed at one of the company’s two 60,000-square-foot print plants in Clifton, N.J. Neither plant was affected by the New Jersey dyers and finishers strike.

“We had thought of getting into the women’s business earlier, but with the three separate companies, and the fact we had really no one in mind to run the women’s business, we had to wait,” said Greenblatt. “We made the investment in the plants, and now it’s exploding.”

Before joining Missbrenner, Parker had been vice president of Print Stream, a division of Toman, a Japanese trading company. Missbrenner’s sportswear and dress customers say the company seems to have made the right decision to expand its fabric offerings.

“Gary has a terrific taste level and really knows the business,” said Shelly Bleier, a partner of A. Koral, here, a private label dress and sportswear maker. A. Koral is using Missbrenner fabric to supply dresses and sportswear to Spiegel, and dresses to Lane Bryant. “Gary helped us turn an order around last summer for 22,000 dresses for Lane Bryant in a matter of two weeks,” Bleier said.

Under Parker’s direction, women’s apparel fabrics last year comprised almost 40 percent of Missbrenner’s volume and should surpass 55 percent in 1994. Annie Vetrone is the division’s stylist. Prior to 1993, swimwear constituted more than 90 percent of the company’s volume.

Key fabrics for dresses and sportswear include rayon challis and failles and crepons, cotton interlock and cotton jersey and polyester jersey interlocks. Eighty percent of its business is in wet printing, 20 percent in pigment.

“We started buying from Missbrenner last January, as their type of printing is virtually the same as the better prints available from overseas,” said Howard Elias, national sales manager for the dress division of Sharon Anthony, a women’s apparel firm here.

Toni Garment, a partner in CC Magic, a sportswear maker here, added, “They’re a domestic resource and lead times are three to four weeks, instead of the 12 you deal with when going overseas. They’re also about 40 percent lower in price than comparable European fabrics.”

Garment said CC Magic has put two spring collections using Missbrenner fabrics in the firm’s showroom “and has gotten great response.”

Missbrenner reorganized its corporate structure in May, merging three units that had been separately run — Missbrenner Manufacturing, Missbrenner Converting and Excel IV. This followed the acquisition by Stefan Missbrenner of the stake in those companies held by former partner David Prol.

Missbrenner Manufacturing — known to the trade as Missbrenner Prints — was formed in 1969 by Missbrenner and Prol as a wet and pigment printer of knitted and woven swimwear fabrics. Excel IV, a screen-making operation, was acquired by Missbrenner and Prol in 1982. Missbrenner Converting was formed in 1987 by Missbrenner and Greenblatt. “There’s still a lot of room for improvement. We still have a lot of unexplored avenues, such as exporting, retail and new fabric applications,” said Greenblatt.

Greenblatt began his career in the textile business in 1963, working part-time for his father, the late Gilbert Greenblatt, founder of Gilbert Frank. Kenneth Greenblatt assumed the presidency of Gilbert Frank in 1972.

Parker worked at Gilbert Frank as well, and it was there he first teamed with Kenneth Greeblatt.

In 1981, Greenblatt sold the firm to Guilford, which now operates it as its swimwear fabric operation. Greenblatt headed the division until 1987.

Greenblatt is a cousin of Alfred Greenblatt, president of Guilford Mills’ apparel, home and industrial fabrics units.