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Executives tackle importing issues

A panel discussion on global manufacturing and importing issues brought together some of the industry's top executives to discuss the benefits and detriments of a global shift.

Bill Heitman, executive vp, sales and marketing, Davidson Cotton Co.; Eric Vergucht, executive vp, Terrisol; and Dale Talbert, vp, Veratex were all part of the panel.

Heitman's main point was that in competing with retailers that source direct, large costs are associated and can be hindrances.

"But are those resources best devoted at sourcing or increasing advertising budgets, etc.? That's what needs to be considered," Heitman said.

He stressed the textile business "has many problems. It's hard to manage problems from overseas and coming into the U.S. you need to have people who can manage the business and understand the different ways in which different countries conduct their business."

Talbert, who spoke candidly about several global issues, remarked on the imbalance in the way retailers treat manufacturers in the U.S. and overseas.

"When retailers go direct, they pay the overseas companies faster than they'd be paying us if we manufacturer/import for them," he said. "Maybe one day [the overseas manufacturers] will see the same problems in collecting, deducting, etc. … that we face."

But the consensus was that U.S.-based mills will persist, regardless of the increasing move toward importing. In Heitman's opinion, "Mills won't go away, but alliances will change." Vergucht pointed out that while he, too, believes mills are here to stay, manufacturers "must find out what types of products can be produced and imported overseas and which ones can be made here in order to find a happy medium." In Talbert's mind, "it's a pendulum swing. It will eventually swing back to U.S. manufacturers because we understand our mentality better than anyone else does. We understand how we do business."

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