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Cecile Corral

Fewer and fewer proud to be All-USA

Finding that "Made in the USA" label on sheets, towels, pillows and other home textiles isn't nearly as easy as it used to be.

As the industry globalizes at a rapid pace, the once significant number of purebred domestic manufacturers has shrunken to a mere handful.

But this last stronghold remains collectively steadfast in their pursuit of remaining true to their American label — not to mention the many benefits it represents, they say.

Foremost among reasons to stay domestic, they all say, is faster turnaround time for orders.

Embellished towel manufacturer Avanti Linens' Jeff Kaufman, president and coo, cited an example.

"We once had a retailer call us on a Monday needing 8,000 embellished towels by Friday, and we did it without skipping a beat," Kaufman said. "We could never have managed it working overseas."

Moonachie, NJ-based Avanti produces all of its goods at headquarters.

Area rug manufacturer Milliken & Co., based in LaGrange, GA, considers itself a top service provider to its retail customers because of its loyalty to its production work force, Tim Donahue, national sales manager, area rugs, said.

"We're totally dedicated to the U.S. workers because what they bring to the domestic market is delivery, innovation and, most importantly, consistency," Donahue said. "That's what we rely on to set us apart from our competitors that source overseas."

While some might argue that sourcing saves suppliers money, domestic manufacturers agree that making product here at home makes more financial sense in the long run.

Donahue said many suppliers going overseas sometimes get slapped with "hidden costs" or added and unforeseen expenses related to importing taxes. Others get hurt indirectly by global issues.

Wade Maples, president, Scottsboro, AL-based Maples Industries, a producer of bath, accent, kitchen and area rugs, said that although his business has felt pressures from retail partners to source, he will maintain his business here for logical reasons.

"We have low overhead, we're automated, we're streamlined and we're focused," he said. "The most important thing to us is cost structure. Every year we have reinvested 90 percent of our profits into the company. And doing that gives us the strength to do what we do and helps us keep our costs for our facilities low."

Being so close to the production staff allows for better product quality control, noted Douglas Kivett, national accounts manager, Laurinburg, NC-based Charles Craft, a manufacturer of kitchen textiles.

"It's somewhat of a myth that kitchen products are more economically made overseas," Kivett said. "We can be just as competitive with weight and quality of the product as any importer. In fact, every importer we see changes in quality and color because they lose control over the continuity of their product."

Just as important is the ability to be more flexible.

"We have all of our design staff in-house," said Jennifer Buffalo, vp, merchandising, Anderson, SC-based Santens of America, a producer of beach, seasonal, jacquard and embellished bath towels. "Basically, we think our design and our quality is as good or better than imports because we can react faster to trends, orders and customers' needs than our competitors."

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