The Made in the USA movement has slowly built momentum in the last few years and seems poised to pick up steam even as inherent problems persist.
The textile industry in particular has re-established itself, notably in the more automated yarn and knitwear sectors, as an efficient, quality source of fast-turn production.
Lenzing Inc. said last month it was investing $293 million to build a Tencel fiber plant in Mobile, Ala., where it already has a factory. The facility will have a production capacity of 90,000 tons a year and will be the largest Tencel fiber plant in the world. The plant is scheduled to start production in the first quarter of 2019.
“This expansion strengthens Lenzing’s commitment to our customers and consumers in the U.S.,” said Stefan Doboczky, chief executive officer of Lenzing.
Also last month, Everest Textile USA, a maker of performance fabrics, said it plans to build its first manufacturing plant outside Asia in Forest City, N.C.
Meridian Specialty Yarns is investing $8 million to build a 265,000-square-foot facility in Valdese, N.C., that will feature a new generation of technology, machines, controls and robotics for package, top and tow dyeing.
The project should be completed in the first quarter and is expected to add 26 jobs to Meridian’s 146 employees in Valdese.
The knit factories American Giant has either acquired or with which it has exclusive contractor relationships in North Carolina have been modernized with new equipment and a switch from batch to modular manufacturing and are operating at full capacity. So the company is looking at other facilities for pants and jackets, for instance.
“One question looming for us is, as we look get into wovens, the infrastructure isn’t as established as knits,” said ceo Bayard Winthrop.
“I’m of a mind that free trade is a positive thing for the U.S. economy and the average U.S. consumer,” Winthrop added. “Protectionist strategies can often be satisfying in the short-term, but in the long-term are dampening on growth and innovation.”
President-elect Donald Trump appears committed to Made in the USA and executives welcome that, but they don’t necessarily hold to the theory that U.S. production and global trade are at odds.
“President-elect Trump has some important points to make concerning a level playing field,” Emanuel Chirico, chairman and chief executive officer of PVH Corp., recently told WWD. “Is there a level playing field when you’re talking about China? No, there’s not. So we should see what we can do to address those issues, but we can’t take them to the nth degree and have a trade war because that would be nonproductive.”